UGC ads featuring creators boost performance and give your marketing a human touch. Below we share best practices and examples of how to use UGC in...
UGC Creators vs. Influencers (and How to Find Them)
UGC creators are all the rage right now! We explain who these creators are, whether they're right for your brand and the difference between UGC and influencer content.
Chances are you’ve heard a lot about UGC creators lately.
Fact: two-thirds of shoppers want to see products in the hands of real people before they buy.
That’s why brands are hiring content creators to publish UGC-style social posts.
While these creators might seem identical to influencers, they aren’t the same.
Don’t get too caught up with labels, though.
Both influencers and UGC creators can produce authentic content for brands. In fact, some brands are partnering with UGC creators to supplement their influencer marketing strategies.
In this post, we’ll break down:
- Who user-generated content creators are (and why brands are hiring them)
- The key differences between UGC creators and influencers
- Considerations for brands trying to find UGC creators on Instagram and TikTok
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UGC Creators vs. Influencers
What is a UGC Creator, Anyway?
“Oh great, another marketing term to learn.”
We know, we know! Let’s kick things off with a simple UGC creator definition to work with:
UGC creators are social media creators that offer content production as a service. These creators’ posts resemble authentic, user-generated content from everyday customers.
Unlike influencers, UGC creators typically do not share their branded posts with their own audience. Brands likewise do not tag UGC creators in promotional posts.
Think of UGC creators as a social media spin on paid actors or models in commercials.
If you’ve ever seen a promotional post from a brand that looks like UGC but nobody’s tagged, chances are it came from a UGC creator. These creators usually work on a freelance basis. Many of them also work as influencers.
UGC creators blur the line between creator content and self-promotional posts. Some brands also have dedicated employees that act as in-house creators. Below is an example of a post you might see from a UGC creator on TikTok.
If you look through the Peach Slices’ TikTok feed, you’ll notice UGC-style posts from a rotation of different creators.
Are these in-house employees? Freelance creators? The fact that we don’t know for sure is the point!
Through UGC creators, brands benefit from authentic content without having to wait for it to roll in organically. Like influencer whitelisting on Instagram or TikTok, brands retain ownership over UGC creators’ posts.
Why are these content creators in such high demand, though? The concept of hiring someone to create an “authentic” ad is a proven promotional tactic. The high performance of user-generated content speaks for itself.
And so building a marketing strategy based on authenticity makes perfect sense.
UGC creators are simply an extension of influencer marketing. Consider that the definition of “influencer” is evolving. For some brands and consumers, the term has fallen out of fashion.
Beyond that, brands are gravitating towards smaller creators and micro-influencers versus celebrities. The popularity of UGC creators also reflects how brands are prioritizing unpolished promotional content.
UGC Creators vs. Influencers: How They’re Different
Both influencers and UGC creators create content on behalf of brands with creative direction from the brands that hire them. Either type of creator can adapt your brand’s voice and post the types of content your audience wants to see.
That said, these creators can achieve different goals and results.
Below is a side-by-side comparison of a UGC creator post versus an influencer post from Cocokind. At a glance, they both look like user-generated content “in the wild.”
Both are short-form videos featuring creators showing off products in action. Both are original content. Note how each video earned good engagement from the brand’s audience.
The key difference between them? The influencer Reel on the right tags the creator’s account. The post on the left does not.
Below we dig deeper into the definition of "UGC creator" and how the term differs from "influencer."
Are UGC Creators “Better” Than Influencers for Brands?
The short answer? It depends on your goals! Both types of creators offer similar benefits:
- Authentic content
- Social proof
- Opportunities to transform customer content into ads
The primary purpose of hiring UGC creators is to produce authentic content to promote to your existing audience.
The primary purpose of hiring influencers is to earn authentic content to promote to your audience while also introducing your brand to new potential customers.
Let's dig a bit deeper into some key distinctions between UGC creators and influencers for brands.
One of the biggest benefits of hiring influencers is exposure to their audience. Consider that many creators earn considerably more engagement than the brands that they work with. This applies to smaller creators and micro-influencers, too.
Given how often influencer posts go viral, exposure to this additional audience is huge for brand awareness. Consider also that modern consumers flock to influencers’ feeds for product recommendations.
Beyond exposure, consider the value of influencers going back and forth with potential customers. Influencers can answer questions, clarify benefits and likewise really drive home the value of the products they promote. This is especially important for product reviews.
On the flip side, the reach of UGC creator content is limited to your brand's reach. This also means that a UGC creator’s follower count or engagement rate is moot. What matters is that they create content that reflects your brand’s style and aesthetic.
Scalability is also a key consideration for brands choosing between UGC creators versus influencers.
Most UGC creators work independently. That means they have to be negotiated with on a campaign-by-campaign basis. This is a big bottleneck if you're trying to earn a high volume of authentic content for your brand.
Contrast this with partnering with hundreds of creators through a platform like Statusphere that matches brands with creators and manages every moving piece of your campaigns. On that note, UGC platforms vary wildly in terms of features. In the case of Statusphere, content is guaranteed when you partner with creators from our vetted network.
Make no mistake: UGC creators do provide an opportunity for brands to produce authentic content. A skilled UGC creator can make their posts look “real” and unpolished.
The irony, though? Done right, an influencer’s post can actually feel more like true user-generated content than what a UGC creator posts. After all, influencers are hired to be themselves.
Compared to UGC creators, brands have slightly less control over influencers but still retain a sense of creative direction. It’s a sort of give-and-take in terms of authenticity and control.
For both influencers and UGC creators, it's all about matching your brand with the right talent.
Where Brands Can Find UGC Creators on Instagram and TikTok
Finding UGC creators for your brand can require a bit of digging.
That said, many UGC creators put their status front and center in their bios. This rings true on both TikTok and Instagram. Contrast this is everyday creators that don’t promote themselves as “creators” or “influencers.”
For example, let’s say you’re trying to hire a UGC creator on Instagram. Using the Explore page, simply search “UGC creators” and “[your industry].” You’ll see a variety of potential hires based on both their taglines and bios.
Here’s a snapshot of UGC creators in the skincare space on Instagram.
You can run a similar search on TikTok. Again, many UGC creators are loud and clear about their status. That’s because they’re trying to grab the attention of brands to hire them.
Once you’ve found a potential creator, browse their content. Some UGC creators will actually have dedicated portfolios or snapshots of their branded content in their pinned posts.
Remember that many UGC creators also work as influencers. That means they can potentially be found on influencer platforms and databases. Hiring them for the purpose of creating UGC-style content will likely need to be negotiated on a one-on-one basis.
On that note, hiring UGC creators requires many of the same steps and considerations as influencers. This includes…
- Drafting a creative brief and instructions to help creators nail your brand’s content
- Conducting outreach and pitching creators to collaborate
- Determining how many creators you need to support your brand’s goals
This all speaks to the value of a user-generated content platform to generate and aggregate UGC-style posts for brands while eliminating the tasks above.
Whether through UGC creators or influencers, brands are hungry for authentic content.
That’s because UGC-style posts offer creative ways for brands to show off their products with a much-needed human touch.
And sure, the idea of on-demand content creation is appealing to busy brands.
This is especially true if you don’t have the bandwidth for pitching and negotiating yourself.
If you want to get user-generated content at scale without waiting, Statusphere's software can help.
Our micro-influencer marketing platform has already generated over 75,000+ pieces of content for 400+ brands. We match brands with influencers from our vetted creator community to ensure authentic, high-quality posts from people that actively want to promote your brand.
And if you're interested in running UGC ads, note that content from Statusphere creators has content rights built in — no negotiation or back-and-forth required.
Want to learn more about how our platform works? Get in touch with one of our experts to see how our software can maximize your UGC and influencer content faster.
This article was first published in January 2023. It was last updated June 21, 2023.