The growing dominance of TikTok's short video format (highlighted by Instagram deprioritizing photos in favor of video) is pushing more businesses towards user-generated content (UGC). UGC – made by creators who make content that looks organic despite usually being gifted or paid for – can open doors that more traditional paid ads cannot.
Seemingly organic content performs better on social media platforms and is subsequently promoted by the platforms – plus viewers like it. Some 82% of people have either bought or considered buying something after seeing friends, family or influencers post about it. If you're looking to give it a try, here are some tips from brands who've nailed the strategy.
1. Don't be too prescriptive. Lucas Nicholson, founder of clothing brand Novel Mart, says he uses UGC creators across its socials in exchange for free clothing. He says that if you're not paying creators for their time, you shouldn't be dictating what they do – and you'll be less likely to have generic content coming back. ‘We understand that it can be difficult for professionals to generate content for the cost of a T-shirt. But we've been lucky – because they like the product, they're often happy to share it with their followers,’ says Lucas.
2. Get creative when finding talent. Community-driven underwear brand Underdays has a big focus on UGC creators for its social marketing. According to its founders, former Farfetch employees Amelie Salas and Oria Mackenzie, the team heads out to university campuses for the first week of a new semester to invite students to get to know the brand and become part of its UGC community. Creators are then gifted products and a limited-edition gift box with exclusive merch.
3. Find creators who are already fans. Outdoor brand OLPRO has a roster of 18 content creators (including a rugby player and a rock climber), who are regularly gifted products in return for UGC. The most valuable product they've given away so far is a campervan awning worth £1,259. Jack Barnett, head of digital marketing, says it makes a big difference if creators are already engaged in what you do. ‘When we proactively tried to secure [UGC creators] who hadn't shopped with us before, we found that the process was a lot more drawn out and felt less organic,’ says Jack. ‘I would always recommend working with those that have reached out to you first.’
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