UGC rebecca roberts post header

Real influence – why user-generated content is getting supercharged

Estimated read time: 7 minutes

It was all “influencers” this and “social stars” that when it came to designing the biggest marketeer wish-list for campaigns over the past couple of years. Who hasn’t been asked by a down-with-the-kids senior exec to “get Zoella” on board…. Eye-roll please.

Whilst influencer marketing continues to drive a significant point within campaign structure and creating that all important ‘noise’ and ‘reach’, is the tide starting to turn?

Or, at least, is there a new wave of scepticism underlining the genuine impact social superstars have on driving purchases versus real user-generated activity and the gold-dust that is peer-to-peer influencing?

The world has slightly gone mad for affiliation links, micro-blogger ads and discounts, meaning there’s a good chance even some your friends are starting to celebrate products through their blogs and social feeds #ad #itsalittleboring.

When it comes to campaigns, particularly within higher education, the only really relevant influencers are those who have anything to do with your institution, be that alumni, academic or current student – can brands perhaps learn a little from HE when it comes to relevant user-generated content?

There are plenty of great examples of student content being used by Universities, as we saw here on The Native earlier this year.

On social media, branded content can still be a little…naff. Don’t act all surprised! User-generated content is apparently around seven times more likely to drive engagement than brand-generated content. Trust is becoming an issue too. In the 2018 Endelman Trust barometer less than a quarter of the UK said that they trusted social media and guess what – it was young people who were more sceptical than the oldies.

Brands are getting better at reposting their users’ content, playing to the narcissist social-media user in all of us. But the ‘ask’ has to be right. You can’t just go all field of dreams and build a user-generated concept and just hope they’re going to come and merely asking for a selfie won’t get you much of a response in 2018.

Social listening is perhaps one of the best tactics to use to get a grip on what your audiences are talking about, screening your admin inboxes and social for what questions your institution/departments are regularly asked will help in the design of a relevant campaign.

Here are some neat examples of UGC used by brands.

Seenit for Royal Wedding User Generated Campaign for the BBC

Fifty members of the public who were invited to the grounds of Windsor Castle used the app to document their Royal Wedding experience for BBC social media channels, uploading 270 videos over three days.

The tool is a really neat way to brief a project to a group which you can keep adding into it and allows you to stitch everything together on the platform.

GoPro gets us to show the world how to use their cameras

The tough professional action video cameras and software regularly shares customer content to show us all not just what life you could be living (thanks) but how you can put their kit to good use – from skydiving and mountain climbing, to filming animals in the jungle and rescuing turtles.

This type of content really has a multiplier effect, breeding more UGC from other users and it darn competitive too, something GoPro have made an ace play with, introducing their GoPro Awards.

Keeping it #AerieREAL

Simplicity is often the best route for a UGC campaign. Women’s clothing brand Aerie struck a chord with their Instagram campaign to celebrate real, untouched swim photos as a challenge to the unrealistic portrayal that magazines (and some influencers) perhaps share in swimwear shots.

Encouraging customers to share their untouched photos with the hashtag #AerieREAL, the brand promised to donate $1 (up to $15k) to @NEDA (National Eating Disorders Association). This gave a real reason for people to get involved, doing some ‘good’ also helped their brand association with customers – teen vogue were one of many youth focused outlets reporting it. Other brands joined them too – American Eagle for example.

MADE-it unboxed

Achingly cool interior brand has continued to develop it’s use of user generated content to help build its community whilst also boosting sales, with its latest iteration ‘made-it unboxed’ curating the best of the UGC it gets.

Encouraging cool shots of purchases, the unboxed gallery is like a who’s- who in hipster interiors, with competitively cool shots of customer homes. There’s a potential to win £100 but the style stakes are more instagrammable interior shots than clients throwing a picture in for a voucher.

Products featured are tagged allowing you to buy the shot and you can share the content on Pinterest, Twitter or Facebook, like the content or email in about it, all of which fosters a sense of community around interiors

They’ve previously coupled this with longer form content too, contacting regular customers to do home shoots and providing more magazine type features on their serial spenders.

Girls Active Awards

National youth charity the Youth Sport Trust have created more of a movement than a campaign through their Girls Active work, using peer-to-peer marketing of secondary school-aged girls to improve their engagement in sport and physical activity at school.

Their awards campaign has encouraged influencers, girls on the programme and those who’ve been through it to share their stories and the awards campaign, now in its second year, sees a raft of inspiring content from videos, blogs to images that teens are sharing on Instagram.

(Disclaimer – I got to work on this last year).