The Power Of UGC In Paid Social

John Clarke
February 4, 2023

What is UGC and how best can it be leveraged across paid social activity? User generated content is a form of creative that derives from the community of a brand or business.

UGC is typically used to:

  • Provide social proofing for a brand to demonstrate that users actually own and love the products and the brand, enough so that they want to share that they are a customer.
  • When brands struggle to produce creative content, UGC can be used to save on asset creation by having images and videos provided directly to you via fans of the brand. This reduces creative strain as these assets typically require very little editing to ensure they still appear native.
  • Social media feeds are becoming overly cluttered with ads that don’t resonate with the user by simply focussing on the ‘please just buy our product’ message. UGC can cut through the noise by, in some cases, not even appearing as if it’s an ad which commonly entices engagement.

A common question is: where best should we leverage UGC in our paid social activity? There are arguments that UGC can be effectively deployed across any segment of the traditional customer funnel, with the caveat that accompanying messaging is tweaked accordingly.

But where have we seen UGC work best across our clientele?

An ecommerce client of ours, which has a thriving community of users that love to share how much they love their products, recently shared with us a bank of UGC assets which they had accumulated.

We proposed that we introduced this content into our awareness activity to support our strategy of spreading awareness and confidence in the brand. The element of driving confidence in the brand was a good fit for the UGC content we had at our fingertips as the assets clearly showed how people were clearly very pleased with their purchases and were fans of the brand.

We created slideshow video ads, carousels and static image ads using the content provided and A/B tested it against professionally created assets that we were used to form our current awareness video, static and carousel ads. The results demonstrated how powerful UGC can be:

  • Our UGC ads saw CTRs 84% stronger than that of our brand ads. With an exceptionally strong CTR for awareness activity of 4.3%, we saw CPCs come in 79% cheaper than brand activity.
  • Naturally, with vastly cheaper CPCs, our awareness campaign saw traffic increase drastically which helped bring more users to site and help the goal of driving awareness.
  • Actual engagement on our UGC ads were also drastically improved with a 125% increase on the likes, comments and shares on our brand ads. Again, this helped promote the confidence element of our awareness activity.

Do these stats show that we should move away from using brand ads? Absolutely not. Brand ads still have a place in our awareness activity to communicate more specific tactical messages, but what it does show is that UGC can be leveraged across awareness activity to drive stronger engagement, CTRs & CPCs, and traffic.

At a minimum brands should aim to test UGC content against their brand ads to test how it resonates with their own audiences.

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