Social media has undeniably affected marketing... and there's no turning back. And with so many forms of content out there, what's the difference between influencer content and user generated content (UGC)? As an ads management house that has led countless brands to revolutionise and optimise their paid ads strategy, we frequently receive this question. Today, we're breaking down what each type of content is, why purposing high quality, professional content from your website on social media isn't a great idea, and which form of content is beneficial for an e-commerce or service based business.
The path for better ROI begins here! Are your ads on their way to effortless clicks and purchases, or are they a bit stuck? Our straightforward guide for success will tell you.
Influencer content is created by someone with a curated vibe and personal brand. They typically build a following around their social platforms that identifies with their aesthetic and topics of discussion. Influencer content is polished, it is created to live on the influencer's platform, and it's intentionally curated. (Tezza Barton’s Instagram is a great example of this!) When an influencer showcases a brand, it's an obvious paid partnership. Brands generally use it to build awareness of their products with the influencer's audience, which can be an effective strategy for increasing brand awareness within a specific group of people. While brands often negotiate specific requests within the contract with the influencer, the aesthetic and vibe are typically at the influencer's discretion.
User generated content is exactly what it sounds like, videos and images created by the average consumer using their mobile device for brands to use. It can and should feel like something a friend might have posted—this can give a real and genuine overview of a product for a brand. UGC puts creative direction in the hands of a brand, crafted how they see fit. This content isn't intended for the user's personal social media presence. Instead, it's handed directly to the brand for use. The content a user creates isn't supposed to be perfect. There's not an expectation of enhanced lighting or editing. The result? A raw and genuine content that feels uncurated.
When it comes to building a paid ads funnel that will draw people in and encourage them to purchase, brands need content to use. So which type of content converts better in a paid ads funnel? Influencer content or user generated content? In general, brands will see a higher return on their ads investment if they go with user generated content. The why behind this involves a bit of psychology and understanding social media trends that have stuck around and transformed platforms completely. Essentially, user generated content feels more natural when someone scrolls and experiences an ad because the content can seem like a friend sharing insight on a product. Contrast this to a polished video from an influencer the scroller doesn't follow, and it immediately feels like an ad. Why? Well, the person scrolling isn't in the influencer's ecosystem—they may not even know who the influencer is. The high quality content might actually cause them to scroll or swipe past, instead of grabbing their curiosity.
Just as we eagerly skip an ad on Hulu or Youtube when offered the opportunity, we're also likely to swipe past an ad on social media when it feels particularly "adsy". But what if the ad doesn't feel like an ad? What if it feels like an interesting product review from someone who looks like us? That's an attention grabber. That's the power of user generated content. (Combining this with increasing your ads click through rates with video produces incredible results.)
It will always benefit a brand to pay attention to what entertains people, and then insert a brand into that same channel we pay attention to. Psychology has shown over and over again that when people are entertained, they'll associate a positive feeling with the channel of entertainment. So if Instagram delights and entertains users, let's make ads feel as natural to the platform as possible with user generated content.
A final question we occasionally get should be answered here, too. With the need for excellent content, why not just reuse professional video and imagery from your website? The answer lies in producing content that feels natural to the platform. And while that stunning, high quality content feels natural on your website, it won't feel natural when someone taps through their stories and sees your brand in an ad for the first time.
To sum it up, the difference between influencer content and user generated content (UGC) is this: influencer content is aesthetic driven for a specific audience. User generated content feels raw and organic to a social platform, and is created for your entire brand audience. Plus, UGC is yours to use as you see fit, including placement in ads. Each of these content types has a time and place for use, just as the high quality brand imagery on your website does. Knowing what each content type offers is the key to unlocking stellar content in paid ads.