Steps to Creating A UGC Community (Jeremy Linaburg)

Jeremy Linaburg


Companies are shifting the way content is created! In-house content creators, businesses are creating ambassador programs that help them develop content for their brands. These ambassadors are normally familiar with creating content for the specific industry and love the brand they represent. The real question is, who is in charge of the community of creators?

Most of the time, it’s the social media manager!

The busy life of a content creator comprises a wide variety of tasks, including but not limited to developing social strategy, strategy implementation, leading marketing teams, managing timelines, and so on. These tasks are typically thrown at us while we try to juggle so much that is already going on. Here are five things to consider when working with User Generated Content creators and leading an ambassador community.

  1. Ensure the creator aligns with brand/social media goals. Does the creator discuss topics and things that pertain to your brand? Has the creator bought into who you are as an organization and what you stand for? Does the community/creator create content corresponding to the company’s social goals and strategy? The last thing you want is to onboard a creator who is developing UGC that is opposite of the company’s missions and values. When starting with a UGC creator or adding someone to your community, ensure they understand the brand and social media goals.

  2. Analyze their content before hiring. This is huge! In a world where everyone thinks they can create UGC, you want to ensure their content meets your brand’s standards. As a Social Media Manager, it’s our job to make sure the UGC content represents our brands well, and that’s both through what’s being said and the quality of content. I know it’s hard to judge, but when building a brand presence using UGC, the personability of content is important. However, remember that UGC should be very personable and not high production quality. The content from the community should be focused on relatability and not high-quality production.

  3. Make expectations clear. We aren’t talking about just spoken expectations; make sure they are written into your contract with the creator. I have worked with creators who have taken full advantage of me by not clarifying expectations. When starting out with the creator, make sure you are up-front and clear about what the brand expects when developing content along with other criteria. A great way to maintain transparency is to ensure they have key milestones that you want them to hit monthly that are sent either through email or a text community group chat. Outline what you expect for the month and any additional tasks you might have for the creators. This allows you to communicate what you expect while keeping communication lines clear. Ensure you have dotted all the I’s and crossed all the T’s when you give the creator the contract.

  4. Maintain Regimented Follow Ups. The time frame for analyzing and reconnecting with the creator/community is totally up to you and your brand. For the program I currently assist in managing, we have contact with them twice a week, once through email and then through our WhatsApp group. Now, we often go into more detail once the message is sent because they have questions, but our main contact point is twice a month with the entire group of creators. We also have a quarterly touch base with the social team, where we analyze all of the creator’s content and milestones for the week. After reviewing the community, we provide the creators with feedback so they understand how to improve future content. Also, in this step, you might have to make challenging decisions about creators and let them know that they aren’t exceeding expectations and that you’re letting them go. This is hard to do, but for the brand’s and creator’s sake, sometimes it’s the best option to move forward.

  5. Encourage them to be creative. The best UGC content is fun, different, and captivating. As you sculpt your expectations, make sure you aren’t putting too strict of barriers on the creators. Remember, you picked them because of their creativity and originality. You picked them because they are good at creating and know the space. Let them do their job. Trust them and be a support system for them throughout the entire creation process.

UGC content is becoming the norm for brands in various industries. Brands want to connect with their consumers more personably and intimately. UGC content is the answer. How can we foster that vision as SMM? It’s simple: align with social goals, analyze content before hiring, clarify expectations, follow up, and encourage creativity! If you can think through and implement those pieces, you have all the tools to develop an awesome UGC creator community!


Jeremy Linaburg @linaburgjeremy
Jeremy is a social media and community-building nerd. After his undergrad, he loved marketing so much that he got his master’s in marketing from the College of William & Mary. As the owner of Wholesome Media, he works with clients worldwide on organic social media strategy and community management.

His clients include Andrew and Pete from #TeamAtomic and International keynote speaker Andrew Davis. The communities he has helped manage are the #ChatAboutBrand Twitter Chat, the #AfricaTweetChat Twitter Chat, and the Social Media Pulse Facebook group.


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