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User-Generated Content: Do You Really Need It?

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User-Generated Content (UGC) could be described as online word-of mouth, one of the most trustworthy sources of information. So how are brands using it and who's doing it well? And should UGC be a part of your content strategy?

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User-Generated Content: Do You Really Need It?

  1. 1. USER-GENERATED CONTENT: DO YOU REALLY NEED IT? by David Yankelewitz, Group Creative Director and Hannah Law, VP Regional Strategy Director Photo:
  2. 2. c WHAT IS USER- GENERATED CONTENT (UGC)? Content created by member(s) of the public, instead of a publisher, journalist, or brand. In most circumstances, UGC is created for personal use, intended for an audience of friends and family… Basically, what you publish on social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Vine, Twitter, forums, and wikis. It may take the form of a restaurant review, photo, blog post, status update, or Snapchat lens.
  3. 3. WHY DO BRANDS USE UGC? Some companies, like Target, Chobani and Nissan, have successfully capitalized on UGC behavior by asking their audience to create branded content in the form of photo competitions, reviews, TV ads, or Snapchat stories. The most famous example is arguably Tourism Queensland’s “Best Job in the world” promotion in 2009 that received over 30,000 entries from 201 countries. Others, however, faced reputation damage from UGC initiatives that backfired. Many companies have invested in UGC campaigns that did not drive participation nor achieve business-related KPIs. More info:
  4. 4. WHY DO BRANDS USE UGC? • To Build Trust: UGC could be described as online word-of- mouth, one of the most trustworthy sources of information. Research by Crowdtap and Ipsos1 finds that Millennials trust UGC over professional content, resulting in significant influence over purchase decisions. Source: 1 Ipsos MediaCT 2014, 2CustomerThink 2016 86% look to UGC as an indicator of product or service quality2 65% consider UGC more honest & valuable than traditional media2
  5. 5. WHY DO BRANDS USE UGC? • More Engaging: Millennials spend five hours per day with UGC created and curated by their peers or the trusted sources they follow on social networks.1 • Creates Loyalty: when consumers create UGC on behalf of a brand it is a public reinforcement of love for that brand; when brands respond to UGC the reinforcement may turn brand love into brand advocacy or even tattoos… the ultimate form of advocacy! Source: 1 Ipsos MediaCT 2014,; Photo:
  6. 6. SUCCESSFUL UGC CASE STUDY: WARBY PARKER Customers are encouraged to share pics of their glasses using #WarbyHomeTryOn to receive feedback on which pair they should purchase from friends and the Warby Parker community. The initiative ties into the selfie trend and consumer desire for feedback. Hundreds of consumers have submitted pics because of the low barrier to entry. In doing so, they show public endorsement of Warby Parker.
  7. 7. c • No One Really Cares: Harsh but true. Many UGC campaigns lack participation because consumers are busy and the request is too much of a time/effort commitment. Many brands don’t understand the value exchange required for effective UGC. • Reputation Damage: UGC means a brand surrenders control to consumers. If the campaign is not well-received it can result in public criticism, negative press, or even a hijacked campaign. • No Longer A Novelty: early UGC competitions and campaigns garnered a lot of attention because of the novelty factor, but now they have become another standard marketing tool. CHALLENGES OF UGC FOR A BRAND
  8. 8. c CHALLENGES OF UGC FOR A BRAND Google Trends shows UGC was most popular between 2007-2009. Other tactics, like influencer marketing, are now more popular.
  9. 9. UGC CASE STUDY: COSTA COFFEE UK coffee brand, Costa Coffee, launched a 2015 social media campaign #ComeOutAndPlay to encourage fans to enjoy the sunshine. Followers could enter their photo featuring a Costa Ice beverage via the website, Twitter, or Instagram. The social hub for the campaign consists of a combination of professional brand photos and UGC because entries were minimal and the quality of some UGC was likely not satisfactory for the branded social hub.
  10. 10. UGC CASE STUDY: NYPD In 2014 New York residents were asked to tweet pics and experiences of themselves interacting with the NYPD. Users responded en-masse with negative posts, accusing NYPD of police brutality and violence. The initiative did not acknowledge the cultural context and public attitudes towards NYPD at the time. The hashtag is still used today to share UGC about police brutality.
  11. 11. 90% lurkers 9% intermittent contributors TO UGC OR NOT TO UGC? The investment in UGC campaigns is often not worth the return. Weigh up the pros and cons, and be realistic by asking “would I personally want to participate?” If proceeding: • Create a worthy value exchange or incentive. Be realistic about volume of participation because the 90:9:1 rule of participation inequality (see triangle) often applies. • Functionality must be quick and easy. The lower the barrier to entry, the more participants. • Incorporate or leverage existing social media user behaviors, like Snapchat lenses. • Understand the wider context the brand is operating in, and plan for potential issues. • Try collaborating with a selection of influencers or customers, instead of everyone. • Moderate entries, if possible, to avoid association with inappropriate content. • Seek explicit consent if you plan to repurpose content. • Be transparent and authentic to brand values. 1% heavy contributors
  12. 12. Questions? / @hannahlaw
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User-Generated Content (UGC) could be described as online word-of mouth, one of the most trustworthy sources of information. So how are brands using it and who's doing it well? And should UGC be a part of your content strategy?


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