In 2018, one of the most anticipated royal weddings of all time took place between Prince Harry of England and American TV star Meghan Markle.
In the past, royal weddings have been exactly that – royal affairs – but this time things were a bit different. As well as sending traditional reporters, the BBC also sent 50 members of the general public to watch the wedding and share their experiences via social media.
These individual stories from normal, everyday people were a form of user generated content (UGC) that the BBC used to build connections with other normal, everyday people.
As a result, the BBC drove the biggest audience during the wedding. Source.
People trust the opinions of their peers more than brands or businesses— which is why UGC remains so powerful.
In fact, the BBC’s royal wedding stunt shows that UGC is more powerful than ever, and has a place in every situation – including even the most royal of affairs.
What Is UGC?
At its most basic level, UGC refers to any kind of content (videos, photos, GIFs, memes, blog posts, and audio, for example) that has been created and shared by users online.
As well as social media content, it also refers to user-created content like testimonials and reviews – content that consumers are increasingly using to inform their purchasing decisions.
The immediacy of UGC means it’s particularly effective in capturing the fleeting attention spans of Generation Z (a.k.a. the post-millennial generation). These tech-savvy internet users have only known a world dictated by technology. With brands cluttering every corner of the internet they’ve become immune to messages created by these brands.
As a result, they are difficult to attract and even harder to convert, especially when they are part of a well-polished marketing attempt. Instead, they turn to ephemeral channels like Snapchat (2.1 million Snapchat pictures are taken every minute) where brands aren’t as pervasive and the conversations feel more real.
UGC might mean less-polished content, but it also means authenticy, which drives trust.
If You’re Not Using UGC, Why Not?
UGC Builds Brand Authenticity
The customer journey is more convoluted than ever before, with consumers taking the majority of the reigns in the buying process. This involves researching brands at the top of the funnel and digging out testimonials and case studies at the bottom of the funnel.
In the latest State of Sales report from Salesforce, 60% of marketing and sales professionals agree that collaborating with your buyers throughout the decision making process has increased sales productivity by 25%, while more than half say it has done the same for increasing pipeline.
Part of this focus means serving the right content at every step of the funnel, which is why UGC is so important.
Creating enough content to cover all objections, worries, and questions is hard (not to mention time-consuming and costly), but UGC gives you access to authentic, trusted content to answer those objections when needed.
As well as working with models with illnesses and disabilities, Aerie put a call-out on social media to invite women to share videos and photos of themselves.
On top of that, for every piece of UGC that was created and shared, Aerie donated $1 to an eating disorder charity. This is just one example of taking UGC and making it more than a marketing campaign. They’ve tapped into a cause and brought their users into the story, making it a compelling marketing campaign.
Drastically Improve Conversions Rates
For many marketers, the goal of their efforts go beyond engagement to driving conversions.
Because UGC is personal, it’s been proven to increase conversion rates in virtually every industry.
The content was published in various languages to resonate with a wider audience, and generated a whopping 31 million unique users over the space of 45 days. In addition, 40% of viewers swiped up to “view more” making the campaign a success story for Copa90.
Instead, they simply reposted fan instagram posts. Stranger Things enjoys a large dedicated following so the content was readily available. This process managed to net Netflix 125,000 new Instagram followers in just two weeks.
The “Our customers’ homes” section features customer-uploaded photos of their purchases in situ. This creates a more realistic catalog for potential buyers to browse through, with links directly pointing to the products on display.
To encourage customers to upload their photos (because, let’s face it, this is the tricky part), the brand offers contributors the chance to win $100.
By adding an incentive, you may see more engagement and more content that gives you a broader portfolio to share with your audience.
5. Motivate People to Do Something
Remember when PokemonGo took off? The biggest news was that the AR-driven gaming app had managed to drive people out into the wider world.
Brands picked up on this ability to drive massive movement from their audience and have worked to replicate the idea.