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6 min read

Leveraging UGC in 2024: Trends, insights and examples

User-generated content (UGC) is set to have its biggest year in 2024. UGC refers to any content created by brand fans, customers, creators or a wider audience. This content is typically authentic style talk-through or behind-the-scenes videos but can include testimonials, reviews, tweets and blog posts. 

According to a report by Stackla, 92% of marketers believe most or all of the content they create resonates as authentic, yet 51% of consumers say less than half of brands create content that resonates as authentic

UGC: Saying more, with less

UGC offers an opportunity for brands to say more with less which is crucial when the optimal video length on social platforms such as TikTok and Instagram is 30 seconds or less, with just 15 seconds usually the recommendation, especially for vertical placements.

Hello Klean does a great job of showcasing their product, and explaining its benefits to new users through UGC content:

According to a Gartner report, 84% of Millennials say that UGC sways their purchasing choices. This demonstrates an opportunity for you to tap into a potentially larger millennial market for your business when compared to paid content. UGC allows a brand to tap into the mindsets of potential customers, while educating users on key benefits (see Rheal Superfoods example below) in a way that resonates with their life, problems and thoughts. Results gathered during a Hootsuite survey, 93% of marketers agree that consumers trust content created by customers more than content created by brands. Utilising the voices of creators, customers and authentic influencer partnerships allows a brand to communicate key messages and product benefits, but delivered in a way that builds brand trust. 

Social media users have been exposed to user-generated content for some time, since the early days of YouTube where users would upload content. The use of this across social channels has increased with the rise of influencer content and ephemeral videos. More brands are choosing to scale up on UGC content across their paid ads. 

Over 2023, many brand creative strategies have changed pretty dramatically. We’ve seen many brands take steps away from traditional branded content to drive traffic. When split-testing UGC vs polished brand-led content, performance data has encouraged many of our clients to lean on UGC content to drive performance, typically delivering CPC of 50% less than traditional branded content (Source: Impression client data, 2023). 

UGC in a wide range of industries

Although a more natural fit for brands offering aesthetically pleasing products such as fashion, beauty and homeware, UGC can be used across a range of industries. UGC acts as social proof, allowing users to see your product or service and showing why it’s worth buying, overcoming many typical blockers to purchase. 

There are many benefits of increasing social proof through paid content, in order to make potential customers feel more comfortable and ready to purchase. We explore these in more detail in this blog. UGC content is an opportunity to educate users and convince them to purchase by including customer reviews, testimonials, awards and certifications and featuring a user as a case study. 

A similar approach could also be taken for brands that would sit outside of this typical realm. UGC content that shows how much money a user could save for a service such as insurance or broadband using current customers, or engaging product demos of typically boring household appliances, such as washing machines and fridges. The below example from Slack, which does a great job of making some typically unexciting, with the use of native features such as floating head overlaid on IRL demos makes this content easy to understand, exciting and visual.  It’s important to remember customers are normal people and can relate to – even the more mundane aspects of life! 

Leveraging social proof

According to the Semrush Social Media 2024 Trends report, consumers will engage more with User-Generated-Content (UGC) than polished, professional content typically used for paid ads. The authenticity and trustworthiness of UGC resonate more with these audiences. Social media users will listen to the voices of everyday individuals more than a sales-focused message communicated through carefully crafted ad content. 

With influencer culture showing no signs of slowing down in 2024, ‘50% of Millennials trust product recommendations from influencers and 33% of Gen Z-ers have purchased a product based on an influencer’s recommendation in the last 3 months’, according to a 2023 Morning Consult Influencer Report

UGC for a new product launch

We’ve tested UGC successfully when launching new products. The style of the content allows a brand to say more in a compressed time, crucial when breaking through to new users in a variety of placements where we have less than 15 seconds to capture attention. This works particularly well for audiences that were already familiar with the brand, but not the product. 

Here’s an example – a skincare brand features product-focused content which allows the user the understand the key product benefits while seeing the products in action.

REN UGC – Everhydrate Product Launch

Leaning into organic trends and communities such as ‘SkinTok’ and ‘CleanTok’, behind-the-scenes and routine style content allows brands to educate and inspire potential customers, with authentic content that truly resonates with the user, cutting through the noise in the ever-competive social media feeds. 

Cutting through the noise in saturated markets

When testing vs. traditional branded video we’ve seen UGC deliver CPCs around 50% lower, even for brands with low awareness in saturated and competitive markets (Impression Client data, 2022). In the increasingly saturated wellness and skincare market, pairing UGC for social proof with dynamic product ads has enabled us to educate and inspire users, while positioning this alongside a shoppable ad format to encourage purchase. Millennial and Gen Z audiences actively prefer UGC over content, as this comes across as more authentic, which helps them make quick decisions about a brand and product. 

How to integrate across your social strategy?

To get the most out of UGC and paid ads, liaising with internal organic teams or partner agencies can unlock some key learnings for both parties. Many of our clients share data and insights from paid to organic social teams and agencies to strengthen their UGC offering across both paid and organic social. Content may need tweaking to align with best practices across social platforms. For example, we’d always suggest frontweighting the video to make use of the first 10 seconds to highlight key points. When scrolling through social, new users of a brand need to know what a product/brand is, and how this will benefit them quickly. This means that even if a user doesn’t continue to watch the remainder of the video, they will still be able to understand the key point raised here, increasing brand awareness and recognition further down the funnel. 

There is also an opportunity to take learnings from what’s getting strong organic engagement. Videos that resonate well with your existing community are a great way to know where to start with using UGC in paid ads.