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When UGC is Your Friend

In the era of user-generated content (UGC), the power to capture and share moments has shifted into the hands of everyday individuals.

Your employees, your customers, your fans, your… like we said, everyone.

With the widespread availability of smartphones, particularly the iPhone, anyone can become a content creator, bringing a unique perspective to their social media feeds.

It's the raw, unfiltered authenticity of these videos that resonates with audiences, creating a genuine connection with viewers.

So when is it appropriate to rely on UGC-style filming vs. bringing on a professional team?

It’s a trick question. We believe you need a professional team in either scenario.

Let's explore the balance between authenticity and production quality in the realm of content creation.

Most Brands are Afraid of UGC

User-generated content, webcam footage, self-footage lacks in three key areas:

  • You lose control of the message.

  • You lose control of the quality.

  • Nobody likes herding cats.

No brand wants their message to be complex, messy, confusing, or inaccurate. If someone says the wrong thing, it can create a bit of a mess.

Similarly, while the pandemic normalized some lower-end webcam style videos, there’s nothing worse than a poorly executed UGC video that is hard to see, hard to hear, and difficult to watch.

Making all of this worse: It can be hard to get people to schedule their time and follow technical rules (especially when the stakes feel low).

The good news? A professional team can remove these issues from the equation and make UGC a viable option for powerful storytelling and marketing.

Why Use UGC?

  1. Spontaneous Moments: UGC is perfect for capturing unexpected, spontaneous moments that unfold naturally. Behind the scenes, answering customer questions, and more intimate day-to-day content fits well in this style.

  2. Authentic Connections: When you want to connect with your audience on a personal level, UGC-style content is invaluable. Share glimpses of your daily life, struggles, and triumphs to create a relatable narrative that resonates with your followers.

  3. Real-Time Engagement: UGC allows for real-time engagement with your audience. Live videos, quick updates, and instant sharing enable you to connect with your followers as events unfold, fostering a sense of immediacy and community.

Your iPhone as a Camera

The iPhone, equipped with high-quality cameras and advanced video capabilities, has become a powerful tool for content creation. For social media purposes, leveraging your iPhone to film moments can be highly effective, especially when spontaneity and real-time sharing are key. It offers the intimate and personal feel of UGC-style content that can perform better than highly produced videos (sometimes).

Here are some pro tips to get more from your iPhone:

  • Change the audio recording mode to lossless.

  • Adjust to 24 fps.

  • Opt for the best recording format possible.

  • Consider adding a simple third-party microphone.

  • Get a self-stick and/or tripod.

Providing Clear Instructions

Asking people to record themselves is very different than providing clear filming instructions.

To get usable content and set yourself up for success, you’ll want to do the following:

  • Goals: Share a very simple outline of your goals for the project.

  • Use: Outline how this will be used, who the audience is, where it will be posted, and length.

  • Tone: Make the brand/vibe really clear so they can ‘perform’ as desired.

  • Prompts: Provide scripted lines or sample questions.

  • Wardrobe: Give guidance on what they should wear (and why).

  • Location: Help them think up the best location to match the tone.

  • Lighting: Provide reminders on where to position themselves for the best lighting. For example using window light to light their face vs. filming with a window behind them.

  • Audio: Selecting a quiet location or leaning into the ‘scene’ of a busy location.

  • Tech Specs: Clarity on the recording setting and aspect ratio (vertical/horizontal?)

  • Delivery: Making it really clear where to share the files when they are done.

Support from a Professional Video Team

The instructions above are very helpful, but still leaves you open to quality and messaging risks. So what can you do about that?

A professional video team can help to deliver instructions to your team. Moreover, they can join your UGC person live via Riverside, Facetime, or Zoom to help walk them through every aspect of production.

Basically, you can take all of the potential problem areas away if you plan accordingly.

UGC Doesn’t Need to Stand Alone

To deliver both an authentic story and high-end production, we’ve had success blending self-style videos with high-end footage.

Don’t be afraid to think outside of the iPhone.

  • Animation, text boards, and motion design can add quality to low-end footage.

  • Beautiful imagery, photography, or video can pair with UGC footage for a unique feeling.

Of course, while many projects don’t call for UGC, it’s a growing trend that can be involved in both the smallest and biggest projects. There is no need to rule it out as a viable option for most projects.

The real question becomes: How do we execute UGC well?

Finding the Balance: Authenticity Meets Quality

In the evolving space of content creation, striking the right balance between UGC-style authenticity and professional production quality is key. Your choice should align with your goals, the nature of the content, and the expectations of your audience.

Remember, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Embrace UGC-style filming for its immediacy and relatability, and when the narrative demands a higher production value, don't hesitate to call in the big guns (that’s us).

Need some help with this whole UGC thing? Schedule some time to develop your game plan.