Startup To Scale

118. Making the Most of UGC (User Generated Content)

June 05, 2023 Foodbevy Season 1 Episode 118
Startup To Scale
118. Making the Most of UGC (User Generated Content)
Show Notes Transcript

Everyone’s talking about UGC content, but how can you really implement it for your brand? Join me as I talk with my guest Anna from No Revisions and break down

  • The different types of content.
  • How to create it.
  • The cost of working with creators.
  • Best practices for utilizing UGC content.

Show Notes: and use code FOODBEVY for 20% off

Anna’s favorite places for finding and working with UGC creators:

Startup to Scale is a podcast by Foodbevy, an online community to connect emerging food, beverage, and CPG founders to great resources and partners to grow their business. Visit us at to learn about becoming a member or an industry partner today.

No Revision

Jordan Buckner: [00:00:00] Hey everyone. If you are a C P G brand, like most of our listeners here today, you have used and or thought about using U G C or user generated content to. Help with your marketing and get the word out about your products. And today I'm gonna be talking with Anna Sullivan, who's the founder of No Revisions around this entire topic, how to use it for your brand, the mistakes to watch out for, and how to make sure that it's actually effective as a tool that you have in spreading the word.

So Anna, welcome today. 

Anna Sullivan: Yeah. Thank you so much. I'm so happy to be here. 

Jordan Buckner: I'd love for you just to give a quick overview of what No revisions is to kind of set the context around the work that you do in helping brands with their marketing. 

Anna Sullivan: Yeah, I can totally do that. So no Revisions is an a la carte marketing agency, essentially set up just like an e-commerce website where you can pick and choose really anything in the marketing landscape that you need.

We have branding and website [00:01:00] development, and then even have monthly services like email, s m s. And my background is in social, so that is a core focus of the type of services that we offer with U G C and TikTok videos being one of those. 

Jordan Buckner: I love that. And so, you know, we were even just talking, you did a whole session with U G C content creators out there for them to better understand like what the market looked like.

And so you have a great perspective , from both sides, from the creator side and from the brand side. And so maybe kind of just to set some context I'd love for you to just describe. What you see as user generated content and its role in , the marketing landscape. 

Anna Sullivan: Yeah. And to add to that, I actually was a U G C creator before this became a term in an industry like six years ago when I just Oh, wow.

Wanted free products and offered content in exchange for it. So I've been doing this for a long time, and as you said, I work with creators, I mentor them. I'm also doing this for our brands. So. U G C if you [00:02:00] watch TikTok is a whole new situation now where everyone thinks that they can be a creator.

Brands are told that U G C content performs best for ads and organic and everything, but there still seems to be this misunderstanding and even somewhat of a trend on TikTok now where people are saying, Hey, Yeah, U G C is not as great as we all thought. It's because people are told anyone can do it, but that's not the case.

So I love talking about education for what U G C creators should actually be doing, how they should charge, as well as for the brands of what to look for, because you can't just go out there and trust and hire anyone that comes your way. There's a lot that goes into it for it actually be successful.

Jordan Buckner: You know, I've seen this evolve a lot, right? And over the past six years, as you mentioned as well, where a lot of this content used to be like customers buying a product and then just organically sharing it on social media because they really liked it. And that's where I saw a lot of the user-generated content really came from.

And then there's this whole wave of creators.[00:03:00] Who we're starting to kind of turn this into like a full-time, or at least part-time or full-time gig for some of 'em who were saying like, Hey, I can like try new products out and I'm really good at entertaining or talking about things on screen. And so there's kind of like the professionalization of U G C a little bit.

And then even it became a style, right, where it's very authentic looking and very kind of at home shot on an iPhone or Android. And even some creative studios have started creating their own quote unquote, U G C content, even though it was kinda like foreign and from a brand. So talk to me a little bit from what you're seeing, like what the landscape kind of looks like around that, and what's kind of the main differences that you see?

Anna Sullivan: Yeah, I think that with you, and actually a good point that you made is agencies are trying to do it in-house. I've had clients in the past say, no, we don't want you to hire Al on this. We want you to do it in-house. I'm like, that's just not how it's done. It will be the same way of us hiring a model.

We're the talent to come in and then we're just paying all this extra for a [00:04:00] studio to shoot in. So to back up. Brands can get tagged on social media, and usually that is helping that brand expand their audience. Because even if I have 2000 followers and posts about a brand, maybe 500 of my followers see that, and then because they're my friends and actually know me, 10% going by, we know that this has a big power.

But I think where things got somewhat out of hand is every brand's like, Hey, we're not getting enough organic U G C every month to then run in ads and to do all these things. So we're like, we're just gonna start paying for it and asking for it. And that's, you know, what Facebook is telling us works well on the ads.

So that's where this whole industry kind of came from and started to trend. And then with TikTok, you know, TikTok is a amazing search engine. That is a whole trend in itself of people telling other people how to be creators, and I'm like, no offense to anyone, but if you don't work in marketing or have a background in this, , they're just people kinda leading the blind. Leading the blind, you know, of like, you don't know what's going on. You don't know what we're looking for. Not [00:05:00] everyone can do this. And there was a good quote I heard recently of like, U G C creators are typically influenced, like I. They're not influencers for a reason of either they're not just not putting themselves out there, or if their personality was that amazing that you want in content, then they would be an influencer.

So there is a very small pocket of people I think, to actually work with that actually know what they're doing can create the content that will actually perform and not also. Charge you an insane amount when like, oh, if we were paying that much, I might as well be paying an influencer. So there's a lot of nuances to the business.

There's a lot of hate on it, to be honest right now. And I just wanna help people get the right content that they need because having this content, organic and paid, does perform better than most other things unless you have an in-house like founder or executives or people in the office that can create things.

If you watch TikTok, you know that content works. Really good as well. But yeah, , there's so many [00:06:00] little nuances to it. I definitely wanna help educate people on what to actually look for and how much you should be paying for this stuff. 

Jordan Buckner: Well, let's actually start with my favorite, which is getting content , from customers.

And I think there's like some people who are just. Like sharing the products that they find organically, that they naturally buy. But you can also do things as a brand to encourage people to post and share. What are the best ways for brands to go about doing that with their existing customers?

Anna Sullivan: Yeah, so kind of my like old school strategy is that you have to set the standard. So your content that you post has to be amazing. You have to kinda lead people into what you're looking for. So you need to already be creating and posting content that mimics what you're looking for. Because if I put out ugly content, then I might have people sharing ugly content.

But if you set this standard of like, We only repost people that have high quality lighting and good sound, and we have a really cool product. And we're also demonstrating what you should do in your video. So you [00:07:00] know, brands that have amazing packaging or unboxing, if you show people that they want it not only for the product, but to also do the unboxing because we know that.

People love that content. So if you're giving them the idea and pushing them in the right direction, that typically helps. But if you're reposting every single person that tags you, then it's like, oh, this brand read tags and post every single person, like, let me just go do this. So there's definitely a standard that you have to do, and I don't know this for sure, but I can almost guarantee there's been people that have bought Rare Beauty, wanted to make a video and went out and purchased a ring light for, to create that they didn't already have one. Because it kind of means something to be posted by these coveted brands. So you have to set the standard.

And then I think the next step too is like they're brands that kind of have that quality already in them, of people wanna post and share. So again, that's where you need to make sure there's something about your brand that like people want to talk about and make other people feel like, oh, I helped you discover something new.

 I, again, really pushing that [00:08:00] discovery of talking about something that you didn't already know because, you know, I found it first type of thing. 

Jordan Buckner: What do you feel about paying your customers to create content and say like, Hey, we'd love for you to share your video, get 20% off your next order, or even paying them cash.

Anna Sullivan: Yeah, If we kind of go down more the affiliate way of like, you have to post something and then I'll pay you based on performance. I don't love that. I do wanna make sure we're rewarding people and if there is room and it feels genuine to just do product exchange and kind of guide them to create content, that's okay.

But I don't like where brands approach people of like, Hey, we will give you this product and you have to contractually make three videos for us. That doesn't feel right because you're asking them to do something for free unless they kind of, you know. The conversation seems to be getting there of they're open to doing that.

There is a really cool tool. I feel like tools are the better way to go down. There's a cool tool right now called Kale Card. I noticed that Sweet Green was using it where, you know if there are already people [00:09:00] posting about your brand and love it. On Kale card, you can make. Basically prompts of, Hey, we're, if you post a video about Sweet Green based in Boston, we will pay $10 per a thousand views or something.

So I think like having those opportunities of like, Hey, this is your choice or not, versus I'm emailing you and asking you to do this. I think that approach seems a little bit more authentic. So I'm definitely open to tools like that, especially for brands that have really built a brand around themselves and.

You know, if you're not getting U G C and it's really hard for someone to figure out what to post about, there's some, honestly some deeper brand core things that you need to work on. 

Jordan Buckner: Definitely. I've never heard of Kale Card, so I'll include that in the show notes for everyone. Yeah, to definitely check out.

And then if you are using. Like as a brand, someone posts a really great video and as a brand you think like, oh, I wanna use that in our, like paid marketing. Do you know, like, how do you get basically like an agreement or get permission from whether it's like a [00:10:00] customer or a creator , to use that video in your paid marketing.

Anna Sullivan: Yeah, so typically you would wanna send a contract and there, I'm sure there's plenty of contract templates online for this, but you're looking for paid usage. Now because of the power of TikTok, everyone knows about usage rights. Now, two years ago, no one had any idea of you know that. But creators are very aware that if you're using their content organically, They typically wanna , get paid for it.

But if you're using it for paid, they're like, oh, these people are directly using my content to try to make sales. And the typical terms will be a certain amount of money per like six months or three months. They'll usually have a timeline for it. So you'll need to put a contract together for that because, I don't know how often this is happening, but people can obviously sue you for using their content on paid, and anyone can find out who's using what content by going to like Facebook ad Library and TikTok Creative Center and things like that.

So I wouldn't try to get around that. And the internet will hate you if you use [00:11:00] content that you weren't given permission for. So definitely get a contract together for that. 

Jordan Buckner: No, I think that's amazing. And if any of the brands, like have an attorney, you know, have them look that over or just so you wanna make sure to cover your bases.

Yeah. All right. So then let's talk about kind of Finding content creators out there who are interested in trying your product and potentially sharing about it. I know you mentioned a little bit where a lot of times brands will send like free product and exchange for potentially kind of posting about it.

What are the best ways to find and approach content creators? 

Anna Sullivan: Yeah, that's a great question. The first place I like to go is who's already tagging you and creating that content. Who's already organically talking about you, and is that an opportunity to continue to expand on? That's the first place that I go.

Otherwise I like to kind of do call outs of like, Hey, we're looking for creators to work with because if somebody sees that. Hopefully the algorithm did its thing. They're on the right for you page or they already follow you and are engaged with your brand and kind of know something about it. The next thing I like to do is you know, [00:12:00] you can do research, you can search U G C creators on TikTok and a billion people will come up.

Obviously a lot that you have to kind of like filter through. But there are a lot of tools out there to use that help you find people. You can even manage people through these tools. There is one called. Well, I'll send you the names of the tools and we can put it in the show notes cuz there's so many, and I can't think of one off the top of my head, but there's plenty of tools to help you find the right people to work with.

Jordan Buckner: Awesome. No, I think that's great. And then one thing that I always hear and see founders too, right? Is like content creators, once they work with them, maybe you send them product and they create a photo or video. How much from the brand site should you direct. Like what they should be saying or pointers for them to include in the videos versus letting them just to have complete creative freedom.

Anna Sullivan: Yeah, I think there's definitely a good balance between the two because we all have seen where influencers or creators have been given a script. They have to pretty much read off of it. They work with multiple people. They're all saying the same thing. We all know that everything is paid for and ads at [00:13:00] this point, but like you don't want to seem like a script.

You want it to feel genuine, and that's the whole point of U G C is like it was user generated content. This was. Idea and conception came from a user, so I do not like the script route. Now when we send briefs, they are pretty detailed of like, here's everything about the brand and the products and what we're looking for.

And when we say what we're looking for, it's more like I. Have a positive attitude being natural lighting, outdoors or indoors, like little prompts like that. And then we may have a bullet point list of like, if you mention product benefits here, don't say that this fixes this, but you can, you, especially working with skincare or food, there's certain words you can and can't say legally.

So we do like to give pointers on that. But I think when we're working with U G C creators, we definitely are making sure that their personality. And their content they already create is somewhat in line with what they're looking for. And we want them to also feel natural and comfortable saying this because no one's comfortable reading [00:14:00] a script, even if you have memorized it, like there's just still something off about it.

So I. We do like to give a lot of guidelines to make sure, like the quality and generally what we're looking for is what we get. But I do like them to have some creative freedom. We would never tell them exactly what to say. 

Jordan Buckner: Yeah. One piece of advice I heard before as well was to like, if you see a specific type of content that the creator makes, they're like, oh, I love a video similar to that hundred percent a link.

And say like, Hey, I love this style. Versus, you know, they might do 30 different types of, of videos for content. 

Anna Sullivan: Yeah, so just to go off of that in our brief, , I forgot about this. We do have a section of like, here is why we chose you. Here is what we're looking for. Here are five videos that we love that you've done in the past, and here are five videos on our current account that we have performed well, that we like.

So again, giving th em the resources and things to point back to kind of like help them direct themselves. 

Jordan Buckner: I love that. And then when you're paying for content, what are the different rates that are out there? How should you think about kind of [00:15:00] paying for or for access to it ? 

Anna Sullivan: Rates are kind of all over the place, to be honest.

And there is a lot of room for negotiation because typically most U G C creators are new to this. Some, you know, it's just a side thing. Some people do it full-time. The full-time people see, tend to really have their packages down and already written in media kits. But I would say the negotiations are definitely open and you shouldn't shy away from doing that now.

The cheapest I ever see is about $75 a video. And then the price can really go up. It'll be 1,500. And then I'm like, oh, I didn't realize, you know, that's an influencer type of rates. Like I'm never just paying for a U G C video that I'm posting. I'm not paying that much money. The sweet spot that I seem to find and I feel comfortable with is around 150 to $400 for a video.

And I would say the price difference there is. People just don't know how much to price themselves. And obviously I don't wanna undercut someone in negotiations if they're not gonna feel comfortable to gimme their best quality work because I undercut them on [00:16:00] price. But usually the higher price points I see are people with, you know, more defined personality.

Maybe their home is like beautiful. And that's usually a big backdrop for them. Things that they're kind of investing in that go into their videos. 

Jordan Buckner: And then, you know, for smaller brands, even, you know, a 150, 450 per video, if you're doing 10 or 20 of them over time can add up. Yeah, I feel like a lot of brands don't know how to fully utilize that type of content.

So can you share like, How do you best utilize the content that's being created versus just having it like, look cool on social and then, you know, two days later you're like, oh, I forgot about it. They're like, no one's really looking at it because it's little you know, old in the social media days, like how do you fully utilize that content?

Anna Sullivan: Yeah. And to back up on the price, if. You know, typically I'm not just looking for one video from one person at one time. Like unless I have a specific reason for that. I typically am looking for several videos from people, and my thought process is they're usually very open to a set rate. Like, oh, once we hit the thousand dollars T [00:17:00] mark, like threshold.

It's okay to get 10 videos and they like went 50% off on their videos because like, that's a good sum of money. So don't be afraid to really package things. Now when it comes to the utilization of your content, obviously posting on social media, I've done a lot of research on this. There is no problem of posting something on TikTok, on reels, on YouTube, shorts on lemonade, you know, Literally everywhere on social.

Obviously don't create it in TikTok, save it and then post it everywhere. But edit within the app, add your text there, add a specific sound, and that really helps you know, your views expand across all those channels. Obviously there is room to post these videos on product pages so on your PDP pages, especially if it's about a certain product, having that content there because people wanna see it in use.

There's even tools to help you integrate that type of thing on the Shopify sites. Outside of that, like, you know, I don't wanna say people are always pitching to investors or have , your line sheets and things like that, [00:18:00] but like if you have a complicated product and you're sending it to a new wholesaler, like showing them how to use it or what people are saying and or showing the interest that your brand has, it can be be used there as well, but don't shy away from using it on every social channel, even reposting it or having content similar to that.

And then kind of going back to the budget point of. If you can only afford two videos a month, honestly, don't do it. Like that's not gonna be enough to really move or do anything. If you don't have that type of budget yet, then you either need someone in-house creating videos, whether it's you as the founder or an executive or even an intern.

Like, if you can't do kind of the the scale that like, is really gonna move anything, then figure out a different alternative to your video process.

Jordan Buckner: What's the sweet spot in terms of like the number of videos per month? 

Anna Sullivan: Yeah, I mean, I don't know if there's a sweet spot, but like in my ideal world, at minimum I'm doing 20 to 30 videos a month.

If I can do 40 to 50, that is amazing. But that's pretty [00:19:00] intimidating to a lot of brands. But at least being able to post, you know, every other day, 20 times a month is definitely ideal. 

Jordan Buckner: Is it effective or not to. Reach out to everyone who comments on the creator's post to say, something like, Hey, I love that you liked our product.

Here's a 20% off discount code. Or, would you be interested in the discount to code to buy it? Like, is that something that you've seen be effective or something that branch should shy away from? 

Anna Sullivan: I typically haven't. I feel like I saw that a few years ago. And we used to do it a lot in dms, like every new follower we had an auto bot that would send a discount to people in the dms.

I don't know how effective that was. Definitely the amount of people that were following us we're not using that code, and I don't typically see that now, but I think if you're thinking about comments and how to drive, Interactions through social listening. Social listening is definitely key, especially on TikTok of just making sure you are showing up for people and responding back.

But I think it's more about like how witty you can be and how much [00:20:00] personality you can show in those comments, and also utilizing it for PR opportunities. So a good example that just happened was a famous influencer named Victoria Paris had a whole debacle with Ramoa not wanting to fix her suitcase under warranty, whatever.

And based in a way, swooped in, commented on it, sent her free luggage, got videos out of it. And then Ramoa now is running a whole campaign about literally what Victoria went through in paid ads. So I think utilizing your comments and that ability is really important. Can be even as important as running and creating videos because that can go viral and then lead to other things.

Jordan Buckner: And then would you recommend that Friends try to utilize this content for like paid advertising as well and doing like paid social ads. 

Anna Sullivan: Oh, a hundred percent. So I guess that's where I may have made a mistake earlier of like, if you can only afford two videos, don't do it If you're using those for paid.

Yes. Like get two or three videos at least test different creative and paid. That's almost all that we run for [00:21:00] two of our brands is U G C for the paid content and it works amazing. 

Jordan Buckner: And then one thing I've seen as well are brands who are starting to use that U G C content, like on their actual website.

So either on like their homepages or even their product description pages of showing people like unboxing the product or using it. Cause I think that can really share some, like the customer kind of standpoint or the customer view a hundred percent. So I love kind of the use of U G C content for that too.

Anna Sullivan: Yeah, a hundred percent. I'm all about having it on the product pages. 

Jordan Buckner: Awesome. Well, Anna, anything else that you think is important that founders or Brands should know as they're thinking about how to build out their UGC strategy? 

Anna Sullivan: Yeah, I think just making sure that the creators you hire align that you're not just seeing a portfolio full of B-roll clips, because that's a lot of what I see.

You want to be hiring people that have a personality can talk to the camera and it feels natural. . Because I see so many portfolios of where people are just reading a script, don't feel natural on [00:22:00] camera, or they're just holding products in their hand. And I'm like, anyone on your team can do that. So you're definitely looking for personality and someone that feels comfortable talking on camera when you're doing your hiring here.

Jordan Buckner: Excellent. I absolutely love that. And thanks so much for joining me today and talking about this. And to our listeners, like Anna knows so much about like way beyond like social media create and great marketing as well. But we just want to dive into this topic. If you need help with any of your strategy or even just some of the tactical things of getting like illustrations created or, you know, help with your s m s marketing or Klaviyo marketing, definitely check out No Revisions.

The. URL is no And those are linked in the show notes as well. But you can literally do anything from website development to video editing, a brand strategy session or email, blog writing, SEO content. And Anna and her team will be able to help you with all this. There's something that you're interested in.

Check it out. You can use discount code FOODBEVY. For 20% off your orders. And the [00:23:00] best part is you can check out their services for really as low as like a hundred dollars for some of them. So you can really build out the content that you need, you know, piece by piece or development as part of a larger strategy.

Anna, thanks so much for joining today. 

Anna Sullivan: Yeah, thank you so much.