The Underrated Power of User-Generated Content

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Over the past decade, user-generated content (UGC) has become a key channel for brands to engage their audience. In fact, TurnTo found that UGC is now the go-to source for deciding on a purchase for 90% of consumers, outdoing all other forms of marketing.

What is user-generated content?

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User-generated content includes any text, image or video that features your brand and is accessible to the public via blog, product review, social media or any other public platform. These are the purchase validation tools of choice for Generation Y, used to inspire new looks, validate brand choices and make aspirations a reality. If brands can get the right influencers generating content, the potential is limitless.

It’s very likely that every brand has some user-generated content out there. Companies helping to find and utilize it are gaining massive traction and funding. In 2016, leading startups that help brands promote themselves with user-generated photos, Olapic and LiveFyre, were acquired by Monotype and Adobe, respectively, and Stackla, a leading UGC aggregator attracted over $10 million in funding, indicating that this is a trend that’s set to stay.

One of the best marketing features of UGC is that consumers feel this form of content is more reliable and trustworthy than coming from the brand itself. Think of it as word-of-mouth endorsements in the digital age. Although this may be true in many cases, brands have had great success instigating and encouraging content generated by customers in order to reach their wider networks.


Two global leaders capitalizing on UGC:

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Virgin Holidays increased online bookings by 260% and won Marketing Week’s ‘Campaign of the year’ Award by incorporating UGC into their online strategy. Their first campaign to incorporate UGC, titled #SeizeTheHoliday, encouraged customers to share their holiday snaps with the hashtag and featured them on the website and live TV billboards. Following the success of #SeizeTheHoliday, Virgin ran the #RedIsTheNewBlack campaign, held on ‘Black Friday’, which encouraged customers to post online using the hashtag and mentioning Virgin Holidays in order to unlock bigger discounts.

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GoPro have also seen unprecedented success through UGC, although much of the content generated for their brand is organic. There are currently over 30 million images and videos with the #GoPro tag on Instagram alone. GoPro has facilitated and encouraged the upload of customer’s videos by providing “how to upload to social media” guides on their website and apps to prepare videos to upload.


What can we expect from UGC in the future?

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USG has established itself as the word-of-mouth marketing for the digital age with 64% of customers actively seeking reviews of products and services online before purchase.

This word-of-mouth endorsement is working well for brands at the moment, helping to establish themselves as a trusted and desirable retailer or service provider, but the key to the longevity of engagement through UGC lies in ownership of the content itself.

Currently, the social media platforms own all rights to the content and metadata, which could cause problems for brands wanting to use these in the future. The rights to the metadata behind each piece of content could also prove invaluable to brands as it provides an insight into each customer and their behaviors. If brands can gain ownership rights in order to use content across all platforms for their campaigns, then the future will see an insurgence of UGC used in marketing campaigns.


So it looks like 2017 might surpass 2016 in brand innovation with content coming to the mainstream. Don’t miss your chance to find out how you can implement new innovative technologies to increase sales and customer engagement. Find out more in our latest eBook.