UGC vs Influencers: what are their differences and objectives?

At a time when consumers demand more transparency and authenticity, brands must adapt and find new ways to communicate.

To gain the trust of consumers, brands capitalize on influence marketing.

To communicate authentically and gain the trust of consumers, brands capitalize on influencer marketing.

Philipp Schmidt, Chief Transformation Officer at Prisma Media underlines “There are thousands of brand messages per day. Consumers are very selective today, they are communication pros, especially young targets who see very well if the brand is respectful and if we can trust it: if the acts and content correspond to this guarantee that they give it”,

Today, marketing strategies are evolving more and more from a Business to Consumer relationship to a C-to-C relationship: brands want to place the consumer at the heart of their communication strategy.

User Generated Content (UGC) and influencers embody these new brand ambassadors. By contributing to a business’s marketing content strategy, they will influence the buying decision of their audience.

But do you really know what are the differences and similarities between UGC and influencers? And how to use their content wisely?

Consumers buy a brand’s products because they trust it.

Consumers’ sense of trust in a brand remains a major and lasting criterion. When consumers believe that a brand has the ability to deliver on its promises, there is a 2.4-fold chance that they will become recurrent buyers. (Deloitte, Insights 2021)

What UGC has in common with influencer-produced content: both generate more interest from current and future consumers than traditional commercial ads.

Studies show that at least 30% of consumers would buy a product simply because it was promoted by their favorite influencer. (The role of influencers in the consumer decision making process, 2019)

With regard to UGC, 8 out of 10 consumers believe that content produced by other users strongly influences their purchasing decision. (Turnto)

In a C-to-C report, the consumer’s sense of identification with the influencer or UGC is stronger when compared to brand content.

However, be careful not to confuse these two types of ambassadors as they serve different purposes.

Focus on UGC

Unlike the content offered by influencers, the UGC is never mandated by the brand so its authenticity is stronger. Brand users spontaneously share their opinions on a product or the brand with their peers and their community.

When it comes to UGC, we also have to distinguish between content produced by consumers, fans and content produced by employees of a brand. 

On the one hand, there is the content produced by users of a product that will allow brands to reach a distant audience. Thus, promoting UGC allows the brand to be closer to consumers, to decipher their languages ​​and to refine its knowledge of consumer personae.

Kantar goes further by talking about User Generated Culture because the content produced by users allows to reach a plurality of individuals, the users being connected to several groups. Not only do they create content but they also carry a real culture for their micro-community.


On the other hand, the UGC can also take the form of EGC, Employee Generated Content. The goal is to engage its employees to turn them into brand ambassadors and encourage them to create content.

These could be employees who share information about their companies, meeting rooms, team activities or collaborative projects. Each employee, through his relationships, his background and his experiences, can influence his friends, colleagues and professional contacts.


The influencer is an individual who, by virtue of their status or media exposure, can influence consumer behavior in a given universe (in this case on social networks and in particular Instagram). There are five types of influencers today:

  1. Celebrities:

These often have several million or even tens of millions of followers and aim to increase a brand’s visibility, brand awareness, and PR.


2. Macro-influencers:

From 100k subscribers on social networks, we can qualify the influencer as “macro”. It will generally bring visibility and notoriety to a brand.


3. Influencer niches:

Unqualified by their number of subscribers but considered above all as experts in their chosen fields, their subscribers turn to them for recommendations and product reviews (food, tech, beauty, etc.).


4. Micro-influencers:

They have a much lower number of subscribers than macro-influencers: the audience range most often mentioned for micro-influencers is that of 10,000 to 100,000 subscribers.

More affordable for brands than macro-influencers, studies conducted by the Markerly agency show that the engagement rate on posts by micro-influencers is on average higher than that observed on posts by social media stars.

5. Nano-influencers:

The nano-influencer has an even smaller perimeter of influence than that of the micro-influencer. Indeed, it is generally considered to have between 1,000 and 5,000 followers.
Even though the nano-influencer can be seen as the “ordinary man” of influencer marketing, its content should not be confused with UGC. Nano influencers collaborate with brands even if their reward is less than what macro-influencers get.

UGC, more authentic content

  1. Imperfection as proof of authenticity

The UGC is proving to be real social proof. Unlike the opinions left by influencers, the opinions of everyday consumers aren’t always perfect. Moreover, it is the imperfection of the content that allows us to realize whether it is UGC or not.

According to Kantar (TGI Survey 2020), 20% of respondents believe that the choices of famous people influence their purchasing decisions while 40% believe they tend to be influenced by the opinions of other internet users.

Take the example of content produced on Tik Tok: the formats of the videos are imperfect and not particularly aesthetic, but the result produced rings “true”. While influencers are briefed on brand identity and have access to brand assets to prepare their content, the creators of UGC are not.

And this is the strength of UGC, the more authentic it is felt, the more supportive it is for the brand.

To the public, they seem more sincere than sponsored content generated by an influencer.

  1. Diversity of content

User content is unique and specific to the experience of each of them. It is also the variety of opinions that makes UGC so rich.

The users have not been briefed by the brand and are not influenced by any compensation: they describe their experience by their own photos or videos. The diversity of content and points of view produced by users is the richness of UGC.

  1. Higher engagement rate for UGCs

Even if the creators of UGC do not have the impression rate or the reach of influencers (who can reach communities of several thousand to millions of followers), the figures prove that UGC generates a better engagement rate as influencers. In fact, users with less than 1,000 followers on their Instagram account generate an engagement rate of 7.2% unlike accounts with more than 100,000 followers which get an engagement rate of 1.1%. (Hubspot)

  1. UGC, engaging content at a lower cost

Unlike branded content produced by influencers who are always paid in money or products of the brand, UGC is spontaneous content and creators are not paid. Their creators are free.

  1. Identify your next ambassadors among the UGC creators

Your consumers are your next ambassadors. And you can identify them among the UGCs they publish.

For an ambassador, a brand is not just a brand. It is overall a philosophy, a state of mind or a lifestyle. By successfully identifying its most loyal and supportive consumers, the brand will be able to build a lasting relationship with them.

@theouai / @quanieofcourse

What are the UGC creators’ motivations? 

6. What are the UGC creators’ motivations?

  1. Social brand identification

Nowadays, when a consumer fully adheres to a brand, he may want to belong to the entire community of that brand and claim it.

Especially on social media where movements of community belonging to a brand keep multiplying. It’s a way for them to reflect their identity. 

According to the New York Times Customer Insight Group, 68% of people share content online to give people a better sense of who they are and what they care about. 

2. Share freely a point of view 

One of the main reasons that motivates a consumer to produce UGC may simply be the willingness of sharing their opinion with others.

“We share MORE content. From MORE resources. With MORE people. MORE often. MORE quickly.” the New York Times study concludes.

And consumers have reasons to do so. Some of them listed in this study:

  • To bring valuable and entertaining content to other
  • To define ourselves to others
  • To get the word out about causes or brands 
© The New York Times

3. Being spotted by brands to become a nano-influencer

To become a nano-influencer, you must first get noticed as a UGC creator.

If the user posts quality brand-related content that interests their audience and brings value to the brand, they will want to encourage them to continue sharing quality content with their community. To do so, they generally thank the user by offering him gifts or invitations to events. This is the step that will allow the creator of UGC to transit to the status of nano influencer.

UGC, a more authentic influential content

The objectivity and impartiality of an influencer can be questioned when it is known that he is promoting a product in exchange for remuneration.

“The influencer audience is less naive about the concept of influence. She is aware of the partnerships made by brands and is becoming more and more demanding in terms of ethics. ” underlines Christophe Manceau, Director of strategic planning Kantar.

Faced with this growing mistrust, UGC will be able to reassure consumers thanks to its strong authenticity and credibility. As users are never mandated by the brand to promote content, their sincere opinions will help gain consumer confidence and build on more transparent communication.

To respond to this quest for trust and authenticity in c-to-c marketing, will influencers make more use of UGC codes?

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