How can I integrate UGC content into my Content Marketing strategy?
All marketers and ambassadors, listen up! In the search for authenticity and a direct relationship with their audiences, brands are giving an increasing share in their marketing strategy to content known as “UGC” produced by their users and employees. Yet, they still need to support this relationship.
It’s a fact that so-called User Generated Content (UGC) is becoming increasingly popular in content strategies. And with good reason, since this content, which is directly produced and distributed by users, has four great advantages:
- 1/ It promises authenticity, which all brands want;
- 2/ It helps map out the purchasing journey, which, according to Forrester, shows that an average of 11.4 pieces of content are consumed before a purchase is completed;
- 3/ It is totally adapted to the new social media environment where “strong” links (those among close individuals) are preferred over weaker links (those between the brand and individuals);
- 4/ For the brand, it represents production of content that is usually large and low cost – yes, even content generated by users bears a cost, and we will come back to this later.
Benefits were shown in a study conducted by Smartfocus on the subject: 87% of respondents agreed that “information published by their peers influences their purchase decision” while 27% “trust UGC content more than marketing information (issued by brands).”
These figures confirm that consumers are now looking for “social evidence” to gauge the real interest in a product. In practice, consumer generated content complements marketing content created by businesses. For more than two-thirds of consumers, moving to an active purchase is triggered by the consumption of a combination of UGC and marketing content.
Another lesson from the study is that 38% of people say they feel flattered that brands reuse this content in their communications. This is good news for brands, especially since the use of UGC is not limited to B2C markets or even brand users.
In fact, B2B brands are also looking for authenticity. Feedback on a solution has more weight if it is issued directly by a user (or a group of users) than if it is part of a highly marked up testimonial. Furthermore, in companies, UGC comes in the form of Employee Generated Content (EGC), i.e. content produced directly by employees.
Here, EGC meets “Employee Brand Advocacy” initiatives, where companies encourage their employees to take on the role of brand ambassador. We will make the same assumption in this case then: we trust a person more than a brand.
As a result, UGC now affects a growing number of brands and a variety of communities (consumers, employees, etc.). Moreover, it comes in a selection of formats: blog posts, simple visuals, social media stories, and, let us not forget, video.
A highly favored medium, video lends itself particularly well to three current features of UGC:
- unboxing (unpackaging a product in discovery mode)
- the tutorial and best practices (tips) for use
For brands, whether they work in B2B or B2C, UGC refers to a key question: how can I capitalize on this creation? In other words, how can I industrialize and optimize the indexing of this content and its expansion by the brand? This is not easy initially, given the volume of content created and its technical variety.
The challenge for brands, in fact, not only involves listening to social conversations generated by this content and analyzing the feeling that emerges, it is also about being able to evaluate the relevance of the content and make it more visible in two fundamental ways: by extending the voice of the brand and by strengthening links with communities in which the content originated. This is a very present issue during events – especially during product launches – which are very favorable contexts for encouraging contributions from various channels (web, mobile apps, and social networks).
The good news is that with the combined capabilities of cloud and Artificial Intelligence (AI), it is now possible to extend Digital Asset Management (DAM) to UGC content. Relying on cloud resources and taking advantage of these new possibilities allows a DAM solution such as Wedia to index masses of visual content. This indexing then becomes even more relevant since it benefits today from so-called “cognitive” services.
These services include recognition capabilities derived directly from artificial intelligence: recognizing text in an image or a video, distinguishing objects, transcribing the spoken word, identifying the tone of a speech (calm, angry, etc.), classifying a scene (with or without violence, for example), etc.
As a result, an AI-enhanced marketing platform can help automate, simplify and speed up UGC categorization. It is not a question here of giving the controls to artificial intelligence, but rather of using AI as a super-assistant. Each process is associated with a trust score: the platform is able to indicate when a video evokes a certain product with a probability score of 90%, while for another this score will be less than 50%.
Better still, AI is able to analyze emotions throughout a video to identify various highlights. Recognition algorithms can also alert moderators when potentially inappropriate content (violent, sexual, etc.) is identified. In this way, we can prioritize content that requires human validation. We can also optimize the mix of UGC and marketing content, approved by more than 60% of consumers.
Three practical uses for UGC/EGC:
- 1/ Proof content
A sports brand is looking for videos and photos to illustrate extreme uses that underline the resilience of products in an “outdoor” enhancing environment.
- 2/ Tutorial content
A DIY brand is looking for educational content to maximize product use.
- 3/ Competition content
A brand of household appliances encourages users to create the most unusual recipe using its latest multifunctional robot.