We all love good ads, the kind of ads that sometimes cost thousands or millions to make. But in the digital age, our attention span and number of ads trying to get our attention are inversely proportional. Unless you can make an ad go viral, you might not get the results you need.
But when you think about it, we’ve all been sold something that we were convinced to buy. And by whom? By our most trusted resources; our friends and family. They swore it worked for them, so we decided to give it a shot as well. If you’ve experienced this, you are not alone. In fact, Nielson reported in 2012 that 92% percent of consumers trust word of mouth recommendation over other forms of advertising.
User Generated Content Can Create That Word-of-Mouth Effect
This ancient marketing technic has moved over to internet, and influencers and affiliates have been using it like there is no tomorrow. Internet is filled with product reviews and surprise surprise, they are all: user generated content. According to Bright Local’s 2017 report, “85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations”.
Taking other people’s word for a product’s usability and value just makes sense, because it’s all about benefit and they are not being sales-y.
To put it simply, user generated content is generally genuine content created by fans and loyal customers; for example, an Instagram story about a newly purchased face mask, or a new pair of sneakers. The brand can then ask permission to reuse the content.
Brands who use UGC can create authenticity and trust. We are not solely buying certain products because they benefit us anymore, we want to become more connected to the people or the idea behind.
User Generated Content Can Create a Community
Internet is all about connection and community. There are many digital businesses and apps out there that flourished from bringing people together and creating a community first. Think Youtubers; they are incredible at community management and bringing people together.
Brands also need to be smarter about customer engagement and creating a buzz around their products. How will they do it? Just take a look at Nike. Nike’s running app and clubs in London are actually a fitness service available to everyone and has definitely worked in the brand’s favour (56% increase in e-commerce sales to be exact).
People like forming communities and helping each other out, so giving them a platform to do just that means they are more likely to choose you over your competition.
Check out Buffer’s UGC case study of how they used UGC to grow their Instagram account and created a community: How User Generated Content (UGC) Grew Our Instagram Account by 400% in One Year
User Generated Content Puts Customer in the Spotlight
Nowadays, everyone wants to be under the spotlight. Social media and internet have presented us a world of opportunity where we can be recognised. Brands have noticed the trend, and decided to showcase us: the customers.
Buffer’s Brian Peters encourages brands to ask them 6 questions in order to determine what kind of campaign would really work for their customers. Here are some user generated content success stories and how brands came up with answers to those question:
Coca Cola asks “What is the ideal way that we would like others to see our brand or product?”
Do you know how many coca cola ads feature someone drinking coke and going “aaah” with delight? Well, a lot. What’s a better campaign than #shareacoke to reflect that on social media? Coca Cola’s campaign increased sales and gained engagement from their loyal customers who’ve shared over 200,000 tweets. It was so successful that they brought it back in multiple ways.
2. One of my favourite ads of all time is Spotify’s user data ads.
If asked, “What makes our brand or product unique?”, for Spotify the answer would be data, machine learning and human touch. A music service that lets users create playlists, and uses their data to let them discover even more music they might like… To top it all, still allowing music curators to add a human touch. So when they released one of the funniest ad campaigns ever, it was just perfect for their brand.
3. Apple’s consistency in its minimalist approach to advertising continues with the 'Shot on iPhone' campaign, where beautiful photos taken by iPhone users are showcased on billboards, and Instagram. Not only it gives Apple free Instagram content, but it also supports creativity and talent. And if you ask “What makes our company culture unique?”, you would see this campaign is a match made in heaven for a brand like Apple that values uniqueness, creativity and talent above all. (Well… Profit, also).
User Generated Content is Cost Effective
As I mentioned for Apple, by encouraging customers to share what they can make with your product, you get to reuse their content. The more you receive engagement from the community you created, the more content it will breed. Take Lomography or GoPro as an example. They both have an incredibly engaged community that are dedicated to creating their own content.
GoPro: Be a Hero
Creators need to be showcased and brands need content. Ipsos found that for millennials, “UGC is 20% more influential on purchase than all other media types”. It's simple: if I am thinking about buying a GoPro, I'm going to watch people's videos who have a GoPro.
Storytelling is the Best Kind of Content
This is relevant for all kinds of media; broadcast news, entertainment and advertising… We need human interest stories, and we need authenticity. This trend is also becoming apparent in film and TV industry as the number of true stories and documentaries increase. So we need people’s input in creating those stories. Even when you think about it in a news context; eye witnesses, what other people think about current affairs, and such content/data is key to gathering information in pinning down a story.
Reuters even has a team dedicated to monitor this kind of content.
“Reuters News Tracer, a custom built product for Reuters journalists, helps spot clusters of words that are shared on Twitter. It provides its journalists anywhere from an 8- to 60-minute head start.