One of the biggest trends in content marketing these days that also intersects influencer marketing is user-generated content (UGC). This stands in contrast to the marketing scene even a decade ago, when brands generally preferred to completely control the narrative. Even older user-generated modalities, such as reviews and referrals, were much less important.
Nowadays, times have changed. The rise of social media, including content in all formats, has revolutionized the marketing scene. Plus, people love to hear from others who are just like them when they look for products and services. People who provide that feedback are called UGC creators, content creators or influencers, although there are slight differences between the terminology.
You landed on this post because you want to know more about, or potentially learn how to become, a UCG creator. So let’s get started!
- Identify your niche and target audience
- Choose your format and medium
- Follow best practices for creating high-quality UGC
- Optimize your content for SEO (search engine optimization)
- Promote your content on social media platforms
- Use hashtags, mentions, tags, etc. to increase visibility
What is UGC?
UGC, or user-generated content, is material that features a brand and which was not produced by the company itself. In other words, it is produced by people who use the product or service. Then, as with traditional online text reviews or testimonials, the user talks about their experience, often publishing the content in social media.
These days, UGC is very important to brands because consumers want more authenticity. The phrase, “of course you would say that you work for them,” is more important than ever. While people realize that all brands will talk about their products and services, they also consider the role of bias in this advertising.
Despite the fact that many UGC creators will eventually accept sponsorships, people think of their opinion as more authentic. After all, a content creator is not obligated to accept sponsorship from any brand, and will typically partner with brands on behalf of products that they use and enjoy. If a company gains the approval of a content creator, therefore, it helps them stand out above the crowd.
There are many UGC creators who have become highly successful influencers. Successful individuals span all walks of life and work on behalf of every product type or brand imaginable. Many creators prefer Instagram because there’s a lot of room for creativity and format flexibility. TikTok, YouTube, and even Facebook are also popular.
How to Create Engaging and Valuable UGC
Unsurprisingly, not every content creator is successful. While it’s true that many of us posts on Facebook or Instagram mostly to keep track of friends and family, there are many people who try to become influential as UGC creators and fail. For that reason, it’s important to understand best practices that will boost your chances of success.
Identify your niche and target audience
Your first step to becoming a great UGC creator is researching what kind of content your audience wants and needs. That’s because people generally to not waste their time on content which is irrelevant to them. And just because your intended audience has common interests does not mean that everything you could cover will be relevant.
To make sure that your content will be useful to your potential audience, use tools like Google Trends, Keyword Planner, BuzzSumo, and others to find popular topics and keywords. Generally speaking, the more popular topics and keywords will give you greater opportunities.
With that said, choose a niche that matches your passion, expertise and personality. Becoming an effective UGC creator requires a lot of work on a daily or weekly basis. For this reason, you always want to choose a niche that will continue to keep you interested, engaged, and compelling. Otherwise, people will be less likely to pay attention to your content. Worse, you may decide that regular postings are boring, and quit before you become successful.
Choose your format and medium
Once you settle on a topic or niche, decide what type of content you want to create. There are many options, including blog posts, photographs, video, and podcasts. You can also choose between long and short form content, or a mixture. Furthermore, depending on some of your other choices, you might be able to produce more than one content. This is especially true if you repurpose content, since doing so does not require a a lot of extra work.
Similarly, pick a platform that suits your format and audience. For instance, a lot of young users who enjoy popular topics spend a lot of time on TikTok, or use Instagram Reels. UGC creators who do a lot of video which appeals to multiple audience segments might do well on YouTube. And of course, you can pick any other social media network or content platform. It all depends on what you want to produce, and who you want to pitch it to.
As you way your content production and distribution options, be sure to consider the pros and cons of each format and platform. These factors can include reach, audience engagement, monetization options, user segments, and even philosophical concerns. In an age where social media platforms in particular face criticism from both sides of the political aisle, your choice of platform can also limit your options. Therefore, make sure that you can achieve your goals on any platform you’re considering.
Follow best practices for creating high-quality UGC
Once you have chosen your niche and to your platform, it’s time to get to work. While every UGC creator starts with beginner-level content due to inexperience, you still want to follow best practices and produce the best content that you can. Here are some tips which will help.
First, plan your content ahead of time with an outline or script. It’s very easy to get lost in the weeds, or to run out of things to say, if you don’t have a plan before you start recording. Rambling or incomplete content are great ways to send your potential audience running the opposite direction. On the other hand, well-organized content will encourage people to finish through to the end.
Next, use catchy titles, thumbnails, headlines, and other elements to attract attention. As the saying goes, you need to make a good first impression. That’s because it’s hard to suck people in, so you don’t want to put yourself at a disadvantage from the start.
Through your content, provide value to your audience by solving their problems or entertaining them. Sometimes you can even do both, such as when people need a diversion after a low long day at work, or in a niche that is automatically a recreational topic like sports or hobbies.
Finally, be authentic and original by adding your own voice and perspective. Ultimately, this is why people follow UGC content creators anyway. So, by being unique and authentic you will automatically present a compelling case for your content which wouldn’t be possible otherwise.
Further Reading: How to Develop a Killer Content Strategy in 18 Easy Steps
How to Distribute Your UGC Effectively Across Multiple Channels
While you should always make your content perform well on the original platform or format, you can use other forums to help promote and distribute your content. You can also make alterations to existing content and post it in other places, such as by making a Short out of your full-length YouTube video.
For now, though, let’s focus on promoting your content, both on the original platform and in other places.
Optimize your content for SEO (search engine optimization)
SEO sounds complicated, and in some ways it can be. But with proper planning, SEO for the average UGC creator is relatively simple. At the same time, you can boost your traffic.
The first step for SEO is using relevant keywords in your title, description, tags, and other places. Keywords allow search engines to accurately short or classify your content, so that it can be shown to people who will find it relevant. Typically, choosing the right keywords is part of your overall content preparation plan.
If your format or platform allows it, include links to other relevant content or sources within your content. This is especially useful with YouTube, Medium, and regular blogs. However, you might have the opportunity for backlinks with other content.
Finally, use tools like Yoast SEO or SEMrush to check and improve your SEO score. Most of the traffic from Google and other search engines goes to content that appears on the first page of results for each keyword. Therefore, having the best possible position on a results page is paramount if you want to maximize your reach and revenue.
Further Reading: What is SEO Content? 8 Tips for Creating Content That Ranks for 2023
Promote your content on social media platforms
Share your content on platforms where your audience is active. Some techniques will promote the content within its original platform, such as the Notifications that YouTube sends to channel subscribers. But you can also advertise on other platforms. Many bloggers, for instance, will post on Facebook and Twitter any time they put up a new page. This way, you can increase traffic without doing much extra work. To make this technique even easier, use a social media post scheduler or dashboard.
Further Reading: 12 Content Promotion Ideas to Supercharge Your Digital Marketing in 2023
Use hashtags, mentions, tags, etc. to increase visibility
Engage with other users by liking, commenting, sharing, or otherwise engaging with their content. Social media really is a community, and so anything that promotes community engagement is helpful. In addition, people will see your engagement on other channels or profiles, and want to check yours out. It’s a low-effort way to expand your reach and increase your influence.
You can also leverage other channels such as email newsletters, podcasts, and guest post. Doing this lets you expand your audience because your host’s audience becomes yours, at least temporarily. Many people will then check out your page or website and, hopefully, become regulars.
How to Monetize Your UGC Through Various Methods
Once you’ve produced a quantity of content, and accumulated a significant following on social media, it’s time to make money from all your hard work. Not only does this help pay for your time and any tools you use, but it’s always nice to be compensated for a job well done. Some of these monetization methods will even help strengthen your community in addition to your bank account.
If you have your own website, try selling display ads on your website or videos using platforms like Google Adsense. Generally, you can use these tools with a fairly small website, as there are often advertisers willing to place ads anywhere they can. Then, as your website grows you can command higher prices for your advertising.
Another option for YouTubers is the YouTube Partner Program. Here, you can place advertising in your ads, and then Google will give you a share of the advertising revenue. Over time, you can expand participation in Partner program to include some of their other offerings.
Affiliate marketing lets you promote products or services from other brands or companies using links or codes that earn you commissions. As people purchase items on the target website, you will be compensated. Sometimes, you’ll get a flat fee per sale, or you might get a percentage-based commission. Either way, the more that people purchase things connected with your affiliate agreement, the more money you will make.
Further Reading: The Definitive Guide to Instagram Affiliate Marketing
Another way to make money as a UGC creator is by partnering with brands or companies that pay you for featuring their products or services in your content. There are a lot of ways in which you can do this, such as tutorials or product placements. Sometimes you’ll also mention that a piece of content is sponsored by the brand. Creators may be compensated for this in different ways, such as through a flat fee or, similarly to affiliate marketing, on a sort of commission basis.
An old-school yet still popular way to make money is sell physical or digital products related to your niche or brand using platforms like Shopify or Teespring. You can choose from a wide variety of products, but popular options include T-shirts, mugs, and baseball caps. Not only do these help you make more money, but they let your friends showcase their support and spread the word about your awesome content.
Finally, you can accept voluntary contributions from fans or supporters using platforms like Patreon or PayPal. Content creators who do this will generally post a link to the pertinent account so that followers won’t need to hunt it down. Similarly, one feature of the YouTube Partners program is that you can monetize your streams or videos directly. Your followers can then send you tips using the Superchat, Supersticker, or Superthanks features. You can even sell monthly channel memberships for extra perks.
How to Grow Your Audience and Brand as a UGC Creator
Even the best UGC creators need to expand their audiences and grow their brands, especially if they want to exert more influence or make money. However, with all the competition on social media, it isn’t always easy to achieve this goal.
Fortunately, with a little diligence you have a great chance of being successful.
Set SMART goals
By far, the best way to boost your audience and your brand is by setting SMART goals for yourself as a creator. That is, set benchmarks that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. For instance, you might set a goal of increasing your followers by 10% over the next three months. To support that goal, you might strive to advertise your content on three separate platforms every time you post.
The beauty of SMART goals is that you can articulate both your achievements and your areas for future improvement. And for goals that involve longer time frames, you can track your progress toward it over time to keep yourself on track. Furthermore, your analytics capabilities will help with the measurement.
Further Reading: 5 SMART Blogging Goals To Set
Track and measure
Keep track of your performance using analytics tools like Google Analytics or YouTube Studio. If you have more than one social media account, or you do a lot of cross-promotion, you might also benefit from a social media dashboard. Some of them, like HubSpot, have free versions which you can easily employ without increasing your costs.
Using the information you’ve gained from various tools, determine what works and what doesn’t work for you. The most important measuring stick for analysis includes data such as views, likes, comments, and shares. Website owners can also include factors such as click through rates. That option is most useful for bloggers and major UGC creators whose brands are almost outgrowing their primary content platform.
Nobody starts out with the perfect recipe for success. Getting where you wish to go requires a lot of trial and error, even with the best analytics and other social media tools. Therefore, you should adjust your content quality and quantity based on feedback and insights.
Over time, you will find that you can trust certain people to give you an honest opinion, or to offer actionable hints. Sometimes, the improvements are easy to implement, such as adjusting the lighting for your videos. Other times, you may need to make significant changes. Either way, as your content improves your following should grow.
Nobody is an island, especially on social media. Part of the purpose of social media is to build community, and creators are an important part of that. Additionally, your fellow creators can be an important resource when you need help, for example, with a technical issue. Likewise, you can share your expertise with them as needed. This creates a healthy community environment where everyone drives.
Although there’s a lot of competition for viewers and sponsorships among UGC creators, most of them find time to work with each other for special projects. To do this, you need to network with other creators, influencers, experts, or brands in your niche. You’ll bring more value to your viewers by sharing other people’s perspectives. At the same time, collaborations and shoutouts help creators expand their following by introducing each other’s audiences.
Speaking community among creators, you need to build one with your followers too. An important part of your role as a creator and influencer is that you have people who enjoy listening to your ideas. But at the same time, your audience should interact with each other. An effective creator will foster discussion among viewers, which in turn boosts your engagement rate and other metrics. Not only that, but a good community will bring people back to your channel or page over and over again.
User generated content creators are more important now than they have ever been. This is true, even though this role is primarily a new iteration of an old theme. However, to become an effective creator who makes money on your work, it’s important to create high-quality content and build a community. The tips in this article will help you get started on your way to success. Best of all, you’ll have fun doing it.
Hero Photo by Suganth on Unsplash