The New Era of User Generated Content

by Allie Garcia Rodriguez

Although user generated content has long been hailed as the best way to engage with prospective customers, I always thought I was impervious to its charms. However, only recently I found myself buying a product after seeing a few friends waxing lyrical about it on Facebook and Instagram. It made me wonder, just why and how is UGC so compelling, and how did it dupe me into buying that product?

To give you a brief run down of the benefits of UGC, it has been shown to demonstrate audience engagement, add an aspect of fun, give brands momentum, be a more natural and authentic way of engaging with your audience, help you label your brand as trustworthy, and create a community. That’s a lot of plus points - what’s not to love? As a marketing component, it seems to be integral to the strategy of any brand, and looks like it’ll be as important as ever in 2017. I’ve taken a glance at a few of the key benefits of UGC below and broken them down as to why they work:

UGC boosts trust

Amazon and eBay recognised the importance of UGC way back in the 90s, and led the way with customer reviews to boost trust. User generated reviews are a simple way to increase trust in a product or service. UGC is posted by people like you and me, and if one of my friends recommends a product, I’m more likely to believe it is a good product too. In fact, 86% of millennials say that user-generated content is generally a good indicator of the quality of a brand or service and millennials are 3x more likely than Baby Boomers to search for product recommendations and what to buy on social media.1,2 Nowadays this isn’t limited to product reviews, but also tweets, blog posts and Facebook/Instagram posts. Potential scams, such as the purported Instascams by Zaful3 and CHOiES,4 on social media means that there is more use and need for user generated content such as reviews, which help eliminate scams and increase trust in a brand. With an increased online presence the brand is able to show that it is trustworthy and allay any worries about purchasing that a potential customer may have.

Create a community

There is no longer a direct divide between customer and brand, almost eliminating the us/them dichotomy. At all turns we are encouraged to engage with the brand, through Twitter, specialised hashtags, pop up events, and Facebook groups. This ‘community’ gathers its own momentum and eventually the brand has a ready-made batch of content that they can utilise which has cost them very little, along with a free online advocacy programme. Black Milk Clothing, an Australian clothing company, has nailed this. Their most avid customers are called ‘Sharkies’ and have created a cult like image for the brand. OOTD images (outfit-of-the-day, to you and me) are shared among customer-started Facebook groups, Instagram, and even displayed on Black Millk's website itself, along with a product-specific hashtag to get featured. The community's influence is so great that the company consults the ‘Sharkies' to understand how to better develop their product and what limited edition lines they should bring out next. Building a community creates trust and is also a very authentic and natural way for the customer and brand to interact and understand each other. The customer feels genuinely appreciated, and the brand gains proper insight into what makes their customers tick, and in which direction they should be taking their brand/product.

Have a bit of fun!

Everybody likes a bit of fun in marketing, just look at Innocent’s amazing marketing department! Inviting your customers to share in the fun is like inviting people to a party, and who doesn’t like to be invited to a party? From Innocent’s travelling stapler to the old Mac vs PC ads there are some witty and engaging adverts out there, so why not include your customers in the fun? After all, consumers are 2x more likely to share because they want their friend to know about the brand,5 so start using the content that your customers generate, to generate more customers! Social media is a more informal marketing sphere which lends itself to having a bit of fun with your content. Sugru, the innovative all-round DIY rubber-blu-tack-amazing-product has nailed this, check their Instagram or blog for plenty of quirky uses for their product. Not only does it cut down on the time you have to spend creating content, it shows previously undiscovered ways to use the product. Another brand managing to champion the fun UGC adverts is GoPro - their Instagram is a goldmine of travel adventure porn and showcases the product and all the uses of it. As well as amazing surf and ski videos, some of their more jaw-dropping videos include a seagull stealing a GoPro, the Lion Man, and a killer whale following a paddle surfer. GoPro have had some fun with their more zanier UGC videos - you can also view a chicken playing the piano, a thieving squirrel and even GoPros attached to rockets and sent to space! They have awards which encourages the most inventive GoPro users to send in their videos and pictures, and the rest of us can see their product is ‘elephant proof’. Now, that’s a pretty good endorsement.

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Most importantly, UGC is genuine, you’re not being affronted by some overly-familiar, greasy-haired salesman in a pinstripe suit, it’s your average Joe tapping you on the shoulder saying ‘hey I did this cool thing with this cool product, I think you might be interested’ - it’s a much softer sell and sometimes you don’t even realise you’re being sold to.

Are you using UGC in your marketing campaigns? We’d love to know what you think of using it! If you’d like to get in touch or just share some content with us, drop us a line.