Throughout their 12 years in business, full-service agency The Works has seen social media change the relationship between brands and their consumers. Here, they discuss the power of User Generated Content and why it should always be considered when planning marketing campaigns.
Being transparent with your customers is key to an organisation’s success, and nothing does more for your brand than making authentic connections with consumers. That’s why User Generated Content (UGC) is now one of the most valuable forms of marketing, because the content comes directly from your brand advocates.
UGC includes any piece of content created by a person about a brand, which they then share online with their followers. Whether you recognise it or not, there is UGC out there for almost every brand, and it’s something everyone should be embracing. Rather than treating your customers as just that, you should be looking at them as partners, who can assist with marketing campaigns and support your brand story.
From A-list celebrities tagging their new clothes on Instagram, to your friends showing off their latest meal on Facebook, people now use social media to predominately talk about brands. Most people have high quality camera phones and are active on a vast amount of social media platforms to share everyday moments with their followers. The internet is full of UGC videos, product selfies and reviews from bloggers.
This type of content is particularly predominant on Instagram, where brands can easily repost content from users’ accounts (providing they have permission, of course!) GoPro is a great example of this- they repost one photo each day on Instagram from users who use the hashtag GoPro’. Offering consumers photo of the day recognition, the campaign motivates users to post high-quality images, while giving GoPro some impressive, and more importantly authentic, content to post. With the recent introduction of shoppable Instagram posts, which allows consumers to buy a product directly from the tagged post, the whole process of brands benefitting from UGC just got a whole lot easier.
According to a report from Adweek, 85% of users surveyed found visual UGC to be more influential than content made by brands directly. No matter how hard brands try, it’s usually UGC that goes viral. Mainly because authentic photos and videos from users allow brands to show off their products in the ‘real world’, which is so much more relatable and trustworthy. We’re not saying the oldschool approach of (dare we say it) ‘in your face’ advertising doesn’t work anymore, but the more natural, less invasive content that’s straight from the horse’s mouth is clicking more with consumers, particularly the younger generation who tend to trust personal recommendations over anything else.
User generated content is quickly becoming the foundation of any integrated content marketing strategy, with hashtags and ways of getting consumers involved becoming a vital part of campaign planning. If your brand isn’t using it, then you’re missing out on key opportunities to let your customers promote your products and services for you. Starbucks is well known for its Red Cups around Christmas, but two years ago, it handed content and creative power over to consumers. Users got involved by simply uploading photos of their own Red Cup designs beside a particular hashtag. Starbucks received thousands of entriesthat’s thousands of user generated photos to be used throughout the campaign before a final cup design was chosen (which created even more opportunities), without them really doing anything themselves.
Based on predictions from the International Data Corporation, consumers’ content will outperform marketers’ content by 2020. If you embrace UGC, your customers will essentially do your marketing for you by becoming brand ambassadors, without even realising it.