User-generated content (or UGC) is a great form of video marketing that is created and shared by the public based on their experiences. This sharing of content is predominantly focused on social media video production but can spread to more traditional entertainment platforms and more frequently, even TV news.
UGC marketing has many benefits, especially when used in conjunction with professionally generated film content and and aligned with a great strategy for video promotion.
Over 90% of consumers trust User Generated Content for making online purchases (1) as it is led by consumers not being paid to promote and share across accessible avenues. UGC is honest, open and reliable; aiding consumers to make choices uninfluenced by bias. Further, it’s an effective way to achieve unobtrusive advertising without wasting time or money.
1. Wide reaching
A good user-generated content campaign has the ability to easily find a large, worldwide audience. For example, Coca Cola’s far-reaching campaign of printing people’s names on bottles and encouraging them to find theirs and share a photo online. Alongside the use of professional video content and advertisements, it was a simple yet very effective method to involve a wide audience of consumers. Creating custom brand hashtags can encourage users to share their thoughts and opinions reaching across the globe. This exposure, though harder to achieve for small businesses, increases the chances of engagement and conversions about what you want to promote. Having a wide global reach is especially important when promoting travel and specific destinations. In fact, UGC is generally regarded as the most authentic and influential content by consumers and for the travel industry with its influence steadily growing. A 2017 report found that an average of 42% of consumers were influenced by user-generated content when planning travel. (2) Visiting a completely new place can be daunting; what else is best to influence our decisions more than photography, blogs, video reviews or film content direct from people like us who’ve been there before.
Billions of people now have access to devices that make it quick and easy to share their experiences through video or photography. Whilst content created in-house with a professional video production team is focused on selling your brand in the best way possible that social media posts or blog reviews cannot achieve, it is limited by the number of minds at work. User-generated content opens the door to so many more creative content ideas that can produce relatable promotion right from the user’s perspective. Leveraging this kind of diversity offers the opportunity to cover different demographics, psychographics and even geographical locations with barely more output from your marketing resource
3. Audience Response
Unsurprisingly, surveys have found that 76% of consumers think most professional ads are “very exaggerated” or “somewhat exaggerated.” With respondents even claiming that they “refuse to make a decision” about a product based on its advertising without seeking customer reviews first (3). Whilst it’s practically impossible to avoid the influence of advertising as it infiltrates every form of media, the consensus is that a lot of people dislike traditional ads. Instead, social proof through customer reviews, testimonials and ‘real life’ photos is validation that your brand is authentic and trustworthy – highly encouraging further user engagement. An aesthetically pleasing photo of food or public spaces by someone you follow is likely to stay in your mind because of your personal connection to whoever is subsequently endorsing it.
It’s important not to overlook the power of professionally filmed ads and rely on social proof alone. Professional video content ensures your brand is presented in a higher-quality format with further control. The video production team can invest money, time and energy into paying attention to the message communicated to the audience and therefore convey exactly what you require. Using a combination of UGC and professional filming and photography can convey many influencing values in harmony.
Brand Advocates and Influencers
User-generated content is also excellent at generating empathy and envy. Alternative forms of non-traditional advertising have risen in popularity and harness this by blurring the boundaries between UGC and professionally created film and video content which compels people to buy and suppress their feelings of missing out. Influencers have taken over pretty much every social media platform with their brand deals, sponsored posts and #gifted ads. It seems that every other video you scroll through on Tiktok is a 15-second promotional video with links straight to the product. It could be viewed that when influencers claim opinions of the brand are their own, it’s a form of consumer-created content presented as a seemingly unbiased review despite them being paid to create it. By incorporating the feeling of authenticity in UGC with the professional aspects of influencers’ video content, who may work with professional photographers or camera operators, brands can get the best of both worlds in obtaining promotion in the best possible light whilst still maintaining trust.
However, many remain sceptical to Influencers with some claims that particularly those from the millennial generation are losing trust in this form of advertising. Backed by situations such as Khloe Kardashian’s “flat tummy tea” which was proven to not work and in fact be incredibly unhealthy for those who fell for it. This has shifted a focus to brand advocates – customers who believe in, show loyalty and speak extremely highly of a brand to other consumers. They aren’t exactly influencers as they are rarely paid but they succeed in a similar way by creating brand desirability and maintaining a long-standing positive reputation which is crucial in video advertising.
In a world so heavily involved with social media, user-generated content should be a priority intertwined with professionally created video content for brands. When used as part of a wider marketing approach, it can effectively humanise companies and strongly influence customers.