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UGC vs UGM User-generated content vs branded content: the debate

Today, brands need a large amount of high-quality content to reach consumers on social networks. Both user-generated and brand-created content are valuable, but developing them can be difficult. This article explores the debate between user-generated and branded content.

What is user-generated content?

True user-generated content is organic and created without the direct intervention of the promoted brand. This is the main difference between user-generated content and that produced by the brand or an influencer.

User-generated content includes product reviews and recommendations, tutorials showing how products are used in everyday life, stories where consumers share their personal experiences with a product, and short video formats which are the main sources of most user-generated content today. Authentic and spontaneous, this type of content is highly appealing.

The beauty of user-generated content lies in its organic nature, since it is produced by real customers rather than by marketers. The fact that it comes naturally means that it's unpredictable. These publications are beyond your control in terms of message, format and frequency of publication.

What is brand-created content?

Brand-created content represents an opportunity to establish your brand's voice, values and aesthetic. Common examples include announcements such as upcoming events or product launches, promotions such as time-sensitive offers or discounts, and culture-focused content such as behind-the-scenes videos showing the lives of employees.

Given the importance of social media for product discovery, brands are focusing on creating content for social networks in-house while collecting user-generated content and using influencer posts to meet consumer demand as they research their next purchase.

Comparison of user-generated and branded content:

  • User-generated content :
    • More reliable and captivating than the one produced by the brand
    • Always authentic because it's produced by real people
    • Can be obtained continuously
  • Branded content:
    • Total control over the message
    • Transmits exactly the message you want
    • Can be produced consistently

How can you integrate both types of content into your strategy?

It's not a question of choosing one type of content over another, but of integrating both into your strategy to leverage the specific benefits at each stage of the conversion tunnel. User-generated content and brand-created content both have their strengths and weaknesses.

Here are a few tips to help you find the right balance:

  1. Encourage your customers to share their experiences with your products, for example by offering incentives such as discounts or gifts in exchange for their reviews and testimonials.
  2. Establish clear, consistent communication about your brand: use a tone, images and messages that reflect your identity.
  3. Highlight user-generated content on your social networks and website, to show your commitment to transparency and honesty.
  4. Don't hesitate to collaborate with influencers to help you spread your message further and attract the attention of potential new customers.

In short, the debate between user-generated and brand-created content is not an exclusive choice. Successful brands on social networks will leverage the distinct strengths of each, and use them to deliver an engaging and authentic experience to their consumers.

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