Just completed a 3-week road trip to roam some national parks in Ursela The Campervan...
When I got home, the chatter on Twitter about UGC and UGC Creators had ramp'd up to 11.
So, I did what any self respecting marketer would do...
I pulled up Google Trends and confirmed that something fishy was going on and found this graph of the searches for "UGC Creator"
Ya... Something big is happening.
First off, let's define UGC.
"UGC" is an acronym used by advertisers and media buyers as shorthand for "User Generated Content."
In our world of sales funnels and paid advertising, it's a specific type of content. Generally they're referring to a vertical video often on TikTok where the creator unboxes, reviews or showcases a vendor's product.
This is big in the "DTC" world which stands for "Direct To Consumer"
Those products you once bought at Target or your local grocery store, but now you order it directly from the merchant... Often on an auto-monthly order. Sodastream refills, protein powders, regenerative ag bison.
Every business in the world has been pushing hard in the last decade to own more customer transactions so they can build their own customer list they can market to... Instead of being reliant on the big-box stores for distribution.
And, right now in Q4, 2022 DTC brands are scaling their ad spend with UGC... Because they're seeing the datapoints:
- "85 percent of consumers say they find UGC more influential than brand-created content" (source)
- "Visitors who interact with ratings and reviews convert at a rate that’s 108.3% higher than average." (source)
- "There's a 100.6% increase in conversion among visitors who interact with the UGC in some manner." (source)
There are 2 sides to the UGC narrative.
The creator and the advertiser.
In this post, you'll understand both sides of the story from my perspective since I'm both a creator and an advertiser.
But first, some perspective.
Right now every VC-backed DTC brand is under pressure to have a big 4th quarter... We've got the holiday season and possibly a recession upon us, too.
The plan has always been to spend most of their ad budget in Q4 to tap into the Cyber Monday and subsequent holiday buying frenzy.
But they've got a big problem.
Facebook ads aren't working as well as they were... Whether from the loss of attribution from the Apple v. Facebook feud.
These brands want to diversify their ad budget away from Facebook to something that WORKS... Something like DTC content from a DTC creator, perhaps?
Because let's face it...
The world of social media has changed! We're now in a vertical video world and brands don't want to pay high prices for
wannabe actors 'influencers' anymore...
Which means the ad game has changed for those who
must want to diversify away from Facebook ads.
They've gotta come up with vertical video content...
And, every media buyer in the game right now will tell you that you need to test a LOT of different ad creatives to let the AI and Machine Learning work it's magic.
And this is why the buzz around UGC is so hot right now... It's the perfect storm.
Feels like DTC's 2022
hope strategy is to go all in on UGC and the creators are responding!
Enter The UGC Creator
These are the folks on camera...
And you're about to learn that this is a new breed and a new generation of creator. Yes, they have similarities to influencers and micro-influencers but at it's core, but one doesn't have to be an influencer to be a UGC Creator.
Let's use an example real quick to make this simple... Because it is.
You have a hair care product that you're selling from a sales letter with great copywriting that converts #% of visitors into customers.
Your product works for all types of hair...
Straight hair, curly hair, died hair, natural hair, black hair, blonde hair, red hair, oily hair, dry hair, thin hair...
All of em!
But... How do you know which audience segment converts the best?
And... How will you 'connect' with every one of those hair-type folks in a way that makes them instantly feel like it's just a friend popping up on their feed... To help them get that "Ya, this is for folks like me!" vibe?
You see... You don't want some fancy-hair Hollywood celebrity to endorse your product...
Ok, you do want that to happen, but you can't afford it.
What's 2nd best is a recommendation from "someone who looks like me"
Which means you need a LOT of creative.
Not only do you need 1 video for every hair type... But you probably want as many different skin tones, too.
And potentially body sizes, also.
Because subconsciously, all us consumers want to 'fit in' so when the ad comes from someone who looks like me... The conversions go up.
If you were able to get 3 videos from each UGC creator (one unboxing vid, one testimonial style vid, one creator's choice/lifestyle vid) and you were able to get every combo of hair type/color body type/color... You'd end up with thousands of videos.
That's an advertising nerd's dream, right there.
Because you can simply let the AI that runs the ad engine figure out what ad works best with which person, and when.
So... Who is going to step up and make all those videos?
The UGC Creators, of course!
And what will they create?
My 'ah ha' moment happened when I found The Real Van Wife
She's a travel blogger who has been growing on FB, IG, TikTok and YouTube in addition to blogging. Her whole family is on an adventure together and they're documenting the journey, growing a platform and living the dream.
It's a great lifestyle business.
And she's added on an additional stream of income beyond affiliate marketing and display advertising by directly offering UGC content.
I love it.
And, you can see examples of her UGC content here along with her prices.
Such a smart way to leverage her skills she's learned through the countless hours spent taking pictures and making videos for social.
Sure, she does have a following and I'd happily add her to the influencer side of things...
But that doesn't mean that new creators today can't start out 100% focused on UGC like it's their job. You'd need a demo reel... But you can literally grab your phone and start.
How To Become A UGC Content Creator
Ok, this is a slippery slope here that could add 3400 words to this post... But I'm going to keep it super simple and reference my 'start here for making money online' post and urge you to build a real business that has UGC content as 1 of your multiple streams of income.
There are no courses or pitches there...
Just info on how my wife and I have built sustainable businesses that are fun to run, take little amounts of time to build... A creator based business, you could say.
But here's the short-answer.
At least, that's where I'd start... And here's why:
TikTok offers advertisers and creators a unique tool called "whitelisting" that allows an advertiser like me to run an ad for the 1 UGC video ad they create from THEIR account.
Said another way...
TikTok offers the best tools to 'manage' your content as a UGC creator so you can pick and choose what videos are available to your clients for them to promote as ads.
Then, I'd just start to grow a niche TikTok to learn the video creation tools and to get comfortable on camera. I'd start by creating UGC content with everything I order.
Every Amazon delivery would be practice for making unboxing videos.
I'd share the products I use and love, showing people how I'm using them to improve my life. I'd tag the brands and I'd do a 90-day content marketing challenge.
Video #90 is always better than video 4.
You have to build skills by doing the work... Creators create.
The Big UGC Warning
As you research this, you're surely going to find fake gurus and greedy gurus touting how they made $9,000 in their first month... And they'll teach you, too.
In their overpriced course that will NOT make you successful.
The only thing that makes you successful is YOU putting in the work. 90 videos is the first milestone. On TikTok, you could get through that in 1 month with 3 videos/day.
Keep that up and you'll be making GREAT videos in no time.
But if you fall down the greedy guru trap, you may end up wasting time and money on long ass video courses that will keep you from creating.
Same to the advertisers reading this who want UGC content. Just do the work.
How To Find & Broker UGC Deals
manually have your VA create lists of the TikTok'rs who are creating content similar to what you want created... Meaning: Find the folks who are already making content about your niche and competitors.
TikTok has made niche-influencers and micro-influencers out of new creators who have never seen success online before. Find them, get their email and send them your cool products and money.
Creators, reach out to the products and brands you LOVE after you've put in the reps and have some solid demo videos to show.
Remember that batch of 90 videos you're going to do in order to build the skills... I'm willing to bet there'd be 3-10 good videos mixed in with all the sucky-first-videos. Those are your 'demo reel'
You can host them freely on YouTube (unlisted) and share them via email.
Or, if you want to get fancy, you can create a simple 1 page website that explains your rates, shows your reel and gives them instructions on how to book you.
Then... It's all about continuing to reach out to the brands you love and other companies you think you can add value to.
For example... Here's a list of all the products that have Shark Tank backing.
Hustle. Get your foot in the door with some media buyers and be their 'go to' person.
When you get known as someone who can create quality UGC content and you deliver quickly with splash of professionalism...
Word will get out.
Because the ad buyers are starved for UGC content and UGC creators.
Keep Your Eye On Your Goal.
Becoming UGC content creator may be a 'new way in' to the creator economy... Or it could be a new income stream if you've been publishing already.
But it could also be a shiny object that may distract you from the blog that you've published 8 posts on.
You need discernment.
That said if you've been doing video for a while and you've got some skills/momentum. This could be a fun way to get free stuff and some side cash during the holidays.