User Generated Content (UGC) has become a pivotal asset for marketers today. It allows brands and online shops to build trust and inspire their customers with fresh and authentic content that resonates with their audiences.

Many different tools and service providers now allow brands to leverage UGC, however not all work the same. Some curate the content and others actually create it… 

So how exactly do these 2 systems work, and what are the pros and cons of each of them ? We’ve broken things down for you in this article:

Curated UGC VS Created UGC, what’s the difference? 🤔

Curating UGC is the process of gathering existing user content, most of the times photos that have been published on social networks. This content is then featured on your website, your product pages, marketing campaigns… 

Creating UGC is the process of engaging your customers to create new content (text, photo & video) fitted to your needs and communication objectives, to feature in your marketing materials : website, product pages, social media, marketing campaigns, emails and even in-store to inspire customers and drive sales.

What kind of content can I curate and what can I create?

Brands are usually looking for 3 types of UGC : text reviews, photos & videos.

Today curated content is the go-to method for photos

Why is that ? 

Well because photos a “simple” assets. They basically need to look good. And today, any smartphone owner can easily take a good picture and post it to Instagram for a brand to display in their marketing. 

Curating videos isn’t as easy… 

Why ?

Simply because most videos published on social networks aren’t “brand compliant”

In order to be a useful for your marketing, videos need to meet a few requirements first:

  • they need to present the product (of course) and not mention or show other products or brands
  • they can’t have copyrighted music in them
  • they need to be short, concise, to the point.
  • they need to show the product from all angles with a clean image
  • they have to provide relevant information about the pros and cons of the product or service

So once you’ve filtered through all these conditions, there aren’t many videos left out there to use for your brand !

This is why the best way to actually get user generated videos today is through CREATION

Let’s be perfectly clear here : creating UGC doesn’t mean telling the customers what to say or do. That creates bias and results in fake content. However it’s key to give users the right frame and tools to create relevant “brand compliant” content.

Who owns curated and created UGC?

Another difference between created and curated UGC is the level of control you have on your content.

To better understand this, let’s break down how Curated UGC works:

Most curation tools work the same: 

  1. They find related user content on social media where the brand has been @tagged or #hashtagged.
  2. They ask the user permission to repurpose the content through a comment or DM. (some brands will sometimes bypass this step in order to save time which can constitute a real legal risk)
  3. They reuse the content.

However… that doesn’t mean that the brand has ownership of the content.

Here is an extract of user privacy rules from a user generated content curation tool :

A photo or video that you take is your creation and you own the copyright. By adding a hashtag a brand has promoted to that photo, you can respond to that brand’s request for content. If a brand asks you to use your photo for a marketing initiative and you respond “yes”, you might see your photo in that particular initiative — but it’s still your photo. If your Personal Information changes, or if you wish to exercise your right to be forgotten, you may correct, update, delete or deactivate your information […]

So you have to keep in mind that curated content doesn’t belong to your brand unless explicit rights have already been granted. And most of the time, these explicit rights aren’t granted through simple curation.

So users are free to delete or withdraw their content anytime they want.

With UGC CREATION  tools, you can ask for content ownership at the start of the process. 

With these platforms, once the photo/video has been uploaded by the owner, explicit rights are granted and it can be used by your brand on all channels and devices, up to 50 years after its publication – which should be more than enough given that on average product imagery lasts 6 to 12 months nowadays.

What about third party platforms?

Today a huge majority of curated UGC is collected from Instagram and Facebook

You probably see why that can quickly become a problem if all your curated content is hosted on third party platforms…

Remember a couple of years back when Facebook shut down data API to thousands of apps following the Cambridge Analytica scandal ? Or more recently when Facebook opened the Brand collabs manager to include Instagram creators ? Or when Instagram announced the upcoming “Like ban” ?… Everytime these networks update their terms of use it has huge impacts on anyone that is plugged into their platforms, some of which have already put many third party apps out of business.

This also applies to all the content your brand curates on these networks… 

Have no fear: we’re not saying that the Facebook/Instagram will shut down all access to content curated on their platform overnight. But it’s important to keep in mind that they have as much control over your content as you do.

To sum it up?

In short, here are the main features of curating & creating UGC :

Curating User Generated Content

  • Best way to collect photos (if your brand is visible on social media)
  • Limited content ownership
  • Dependent on third party social platforms

Creating User Generated Content

  • Best way to create videos
  • Full content ownership
  • Requires the right tools to automate content creation at scale
  • Possibility to use the content on all your communication tools (ecommerce, paid media, retailers, market place, shops, Youtube….)

In the end there is no right or wrong way of managing User Generated Content. It really depends on what your targets are, what content you wish to leverage and what level of ownership you need over your content.

But just to stay on the safe side : you probably shouldn’t put all your eggs in the same basket, particularly if the hen is Facebook… 😉

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