Blog Post - Sonja Swahn Lindstrom, Apr 4 2017

​User Generated Content (UGC) – Can U afford not to?

​User Generated Content (UGC) – Can U afford not to?

Brands have been enjoying the benefits of user generated content (UGC) for some years now but recently it’s gained significant importance in digital marketing. The focus on increasing customer engagement and building brand awareness is ever more intense, and that’s why UGC is taking the spotlight in 2017.

What is UGC?

Sharing stories and experiences plays an integral part in shaping our society; it helps build communities and hold them together, and this is essentially what UGC does. Bringing products and services to life by adding authenticity, validation and character, UGC can be found in the form of customer ratings and reviews, YouTube tutorials, how-to guides, social media posts and blog posts.

UGC allows businesses to cut back on their content creation by delegating some brand building responsibilities to their customers. Like most marketing techniques, it comes with its pros and cons and might not be suited to every brand, however, this incredibly powerful tool has proven to be very successful for many businesses in recent years.

Why UGC is important for your consumers today

Today’s consumers are becoming de-sensitised to traditional advertising, relying more on the views of their peers when making purchase decisions. Anna Stockley, Head of Digital at cosmetic retailer Mecca, said at the Online Retailers Conference in 2016: “the younger generation don’t connect with traditional marketing methods of polished, inaccessible and retouched images. Instead, they’re looking for authentic imagery and stories”.

There’s never been a better time for brands to start utilising the influence and reach of their customers through user generated content. According to a report by Bazaar Voice: “64% of millennials and 53% of baby boomers want more options to share their opinions about brands”, while other studies such as Ipsos MediaCT’s latest research show:“consumers trust user generated content more than all other forms of media”.

The results

User generated content plays a vital role in the buying process at various points. Bazaar Voice’s 2014 study states that brands should: “leverage different forms of user-generated content throughout the customer lifecycle to drive not just purchase, but also discovery and engagement”. Doing so has proven to be successful for many major brands including Burberry - with the ‘Art of The Trench’ website in 2009, Coca-Cola’s 2013 and 2014 ‘Share a Coke’ campaign, Starbucks’ 2014 ‘White Cup’ contest, the recent ASOS #AsSeenOnMe campaign and Go Pro’s entire marketing strategy.

coke image.jpg

The results speak for themselves:

  • Burberry’s ecommerce sales surged 50% year-on-year following the launch of its user generated site.
  • Coke’s ‘Share a Coke’ campaign launched in more than 70 countries and saw 998 million impressions on Twitter, 235,000 tweets from 111,000 fans using the #ShareaCoke hashtag, and more than 150 million personalised bottles sold.
  • Starbucks’ ‘White cup’ contest saw nearly 4,000 customers submitting entries of their cup designs in just three weeks.
  • The ASOS #AsSeenOnMe user generated content/shoppable content hybrid ‘reportedly resulted in some 60 percent of its traffic and 44 percent of its orders occurring from mobile devices alone.’
  • GoPro more than doubled its net income from 2010 to 2011 to $24.6 million, but only spent $50,000 more in marketing costs according to Wall St. Daily. In return for giving athletes a wearable camera to create content, they got back advertising gold.

What Salmon thinks

User generated content has huge brand-building potential and should be an integral part of modern content strategies. Not only does it help to reduce the costly and time consuming creation of content for marketing departments, but it also helps with the growth of customer engagement and building brand trust and authenticity, through direct, transparent relationships with customers.

User generated content is changing the world of marketing, although its effectiveness and scalability as a replacement for traditional marketing is debatable. The key is to use it as a supplement to your existing content creation. Brands that harness the potential power of user generated content are likely to succeed in winning over consumers of today and the future.

To find out more about UGC get in touch with our Digital Content Editor Sonja Lindstrom.

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