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Influencer-generated content (IGC) and user-generated content (UGC) can help your brand promote a product or service. 

Both types of content have shared benefits. In addition to freeing up your team to focus on other projects, IGC and UGC can boost engagement, generate trust, and encourage sales. Research shows 92% of consumers trust user-generated content more than traditional advertising and 46% of social media users have purchased a product mentioned by an influencer

While both forms of content are useful to a brand, there are some distinct differences between IGC and UGC that are worth exploring.

What is influencer-generated content?

IGC is content created by an influencer. It’s sometimes called a sponsored post, but it can take many forms be it an Instagram picture of a product or a TikTok demonstrating a new service.

By definition, influencers are people who have the potential to persuade their curated audience to take action. And that’s enticing to brands. Why? As a brand, you can ask (and pay)  influencers to promote your products on their social channel. 

What is user-generated content?

UGC is content created by a user or a customer.

Unlike influencer-generated content, which is typically produced by experts, celebrities, or popular social media personalities, user-generated content comes from “regular” people. 

If a pet owner snaps a picture of their dog playing with a new toy and tags the pet retailer on Instagram, that’s UGC.

UGC isn’t typically directed toward a particular audience and brands don’t usually have much say in what’s created. 

A brand can use the adorable dog image shot by the customer, with permission of course, but not all UGC is worthy of marketing material. 

What’s the difference between the two?

Without an affiliation to the brand, user-generated content is understandably less restrictive in terms of what’s being shared. There’s no advance directive from the brand, UGC has no expectations to live up to, and no parameters limiting what the post must contain or achieve. 

While both UGC and IGC can create buzz around a product or service, influencers may feel the pressure to turn their content into conversions. Additionally, influencers are held to a higher standard in terms of the quality of their posts and media. 

With an awareness that brands are counting on a good return on investment, influencer-generated content almost always includes some form of a call to action. Their audience may be encouraged to make a purchase, download an app, start a free trial, enter a contest, or share the post.

Here’s a look at additional differences between IGC and UGC:

 

UGC  IGC
Free (Contributors aren’t compensated) Paid (Influencers get compensated)
Created by “every day” consumers or users Created by influencers (celebrities, popular social media personalities, or experts)                                                                                               
Content may be amateur or professional Professional quality content
Generates a buzz  Generates buzz AND conversions
No specific audience  Captive audience
No brand guidance or aesthetics Directed/approved by brand
Authentic voice and unbiased Authentic voice; some (positive) bias
May have no familiarity with brand Familiarity with brand

Examples of influencer-generated content

Looking for inspiration for influencer-generated content? Check out these examples from well-known brands:

Short video product demonstration 

TikTok influencer Emmanuel Duverneau was sponsored by Crate and Barrel to make this 34-second video highlighting the company’s Ooni HQ Kaur 16 Multi-fuel Pizza Oven for his 2.9M followers. The video garnered 845.4K views.

@emmanuelduverneau

The @Ooni HQ Karu 16 Multi-Fuel Pizza Oven from @crateandbarrel is easy to use and can make delicious pizzas in seconds! It’s a perfect addition to any event and makes summertime cooking a blast! #CrateStyle #sponsored

♬ original sound - Emmanuel Duverneau

Long video tutorial

Face and body paint brand Snazaroo partnered with Shonagh Scott to create a video makeup tutorial for her 578K YouTube subscribers. The nearly 11-minute video generated over 703K views.

Examples of user-generated content

User-generated content has its place in your marketing arsenal too. Here are some examples to draw inspiration from:

Product photos

When auto giant BMW encouraged owners to share social media posts of their rides with the hashtag #BMWRepost the company got plenty of free advertising from satisfied and proud owners, including this bright green Beemer from @dschmdt

User comments:

Lifestyle brand band.do incorporates a variety of user-generated content into its marketing, including reviews, images, and comments. The company even captured a user-generated tweet from @Jezebirb regarding rewards points and used the opportunity to educate its Instagram followers about the brand’s free rewards program.

How to amplify IGC and UGC

To help get the most out of both UGC and IGC, here are a few ways to maximize its exposure:

Consider amplifying content with social ads

You can take IGC and high-quality UGC up a notch by using it in social ads. By pairing relatable images or videos with the increased exposure of an ad, you can get a little extra mileage out of the content. 

You can also turn the content into a shoppable ad on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, or TikTok, where shoppers can click the image to buy the product. 

Add content to your newsletter

Creating fresh content for a newsletter is always a challenge. To help, add your IGC and UGC to the newsletter, too. You can even write a story about how the content was created, by whom, and why. 

Re-share the content on social

You can use images as your Facebook Cover Photo or re-share the sponsored ad as part of a Throwback Thursday #tbt. You can re-share the content with a thank you to the creator too.  

Both UGC and IGC are useful marketing tools, but they differ in how they’re created and the marketing goals they’re meant to achieve. 

Influencers:

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Marketers:

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