Thursday, 2 February 2017

Beyond UGC - The Rise of Customer Co-Creation

User generated content.
It’s become a bit of a buzzword of late. Turn to any one of your social feeds and it’s likely to be saturated with brands asking you to share something. Most likely asking you to post a photo or share a video to be in with the chance of winning a prize.
But user generated content has the potential to be so much more than that. Done the right way, brands could land themselves with content that becomes a valuable asset in more ways than one.
To learn more about the future of user generated content (UGC) and its potential, we attended the BIMA breakfast briefing event – ‘Beyond UGC: The Rise of Customer Co-Creation.’ 

The event saw a panel of experts in the field of UGC discuss how co-created content is on the rise and how brands are harnessing the power of their customer base to build a better brand offering.

Here’s some of what we found out:

 Video can provide valuable consumer insights

Video is big. Thanks to smartphones, it’s now easier than ever to capture content via video. Technology giant Cisco even predicts that by 2017, 69% of all consumer internet traffic will be video. So how can brands tap into this asset?

Traditionally, measuring the success of a media campaign can take many forms. Whether it’s online surveys, data tracking or another method, it can be difficult to truly get to the heart of what a consumer really thinks about a brand or product.

Instead, brands could be asking consumers to produce their own video feedback. Video feedback provides much richer and deeper insights as we’re able to see and hear directly the interactions a consumer has with a brand or product.

Real example

Barclays invited members of the Mumsnet community to try out their Homeowner app and submit feedback on camera. Mumsnet users ran through key features of the app as well as provided ideas of what could be improved which was then shared online.

Mumsnet user testing Barclay's app

The future of UGC isn’t just social

It’s easy for brands to be reliant on the mass audiences on social to generate content. To be fair, it’s an easy way to boost engagement. Simply throw out ‘#’ and you’re bound to get some form of content in return.

But the problem with social channels is that brands have no way of knowing how engaged an audience really is with their brand. It’s one thing sharing a ‘#’ in return for some form of incentive, such as the chance to win a competition. But it’s another thing altogether genuinely advocating a product and sharing enthusiasm over a brand.

So, instead of relying on the broad audiences of social, brands should instead hone in on a smaller community of true brand advocates; consumers who have already bought into a product or service. By asking actual customers, brands can ensure authentic responses.

Real example

The Apple ‘Shot on iPhone’ campaign tapped into the ‘professional-amateur’ audience and showcased the potential of what an iPhone device is capable of capturing. There was no incentive for people to get involved, other than to be a part of something big. The content was then used by Apple across their marketing campaigns, including TV advertising and billboards across the country.

Apple shot on iphone outdoor ad on building

  Make use of social. But approach with care 

Hilary Clinton with crowd taking selfies

This picture of Hilary Clinton at a campaign event in Orlando, Florida is pretty telling. It demonstrates perfectly our mentality these days of ‘if I didn’t capture it, it didn’t happen.’

This growing mentality means that inevitably, consumers are going to share their experiences with brands and products, especially on social. Experiences that could be either good or bad. Brands therefore now have less and less control over how they want to be perceived by consumers. A brand is now what the consumers say it is.

With all this content being spread, it’s clear that brands shouldn’t rule out utilising content generated on social altogether. Where generated on mass, it’s still a useful and insightful source of content.

However, with so much content being produced it’s not all guaranteed to be quality. It’s therefore important for brands to find out ways of monitoring and handling what’s being produced effectively.
When it comes to quality, for brands, sometimes it’s just a matter of manually sifting through all the comments, hashtags and mentions till they get to the good stuff.

There are however certain technologies that can been used to help brands for example using facial recognition to determine whether someone in an image is displaying positive or negative reactions. As technology such as this continues to develop, it will be easier for brands to measure and control the content that users are generating.

Also, just because someone has posted a picture or video on social, doesn’t mean it’s there for the taking. Brands need to ask permission before they reuse and repurpose other people’s content.

Real example

During the release of the James Bond film, Spectre, IMAX looked at the viewers that had engaged with a given hashtag and shared their thoughts on the film. Technology was then used to curate and filter out only the positive messages. Automated messages were then sent out to those users who had shared a positive message, asking for permission to use their tweets. These user tweets were then used in future IMAX advertising.

To get users to share, you need to have a story that’s worth sharing

These days we’re bombarded with content on a daily basis. Just looking at two channels alone to put that into context, 400 hours of content are uploaded to YouTube every minute (Google, 2015) and there are 10 billion video views a day on Snapchat (Bloomberg, 2016). Mind blown.

So when it comes to creating user generated content, brands really need to really think about why someone would go to the effort of collaborating with them over anybody else.

Brands now need to think about taking that step from saying to doing, from promising to providing purpose, to ensure they stand out and come across as both authentic and relevant.

Real example

Emily Weiss, the blogger behind the successful beauty blog ‘Into the Gloss’ launched her own beauty company, Glossier. When designing products, the team behind Glossier interviewed and listened to their existing community of readers to gain insight. As a result, the company created beauty products that they knew their customers really wanted and needed.  

Here at Cancer Research, our supporters' stories remain our inspiration. Our current Right Now campaign looks at the real stories of patients and their loved ones, using real life footage. The campaign has not only amplified our message, of the urgent need of support to continue to help beat cancer sooner, but it has also helped many more people feel empowered to open up and share their own experiences.

Looking ahead to World Cancer Day 2017, we’re looking to unearth real stories that reveal how people have united in the fight against cancer. Using the #ActsofUnity, we’ll find the incredible acts of unity taking place across the county, that are giving people strength in their fight against cancer.

From friends shaving their heads in support to communities getting together and fundraising, through these stories, we hope to spread awareness and inspire everyone to get involved and share their own act of unity on World Cancer Day 2017.

It is clear that user generated content and co-creation is something that is only set to grow long into the future. To remain authentic and relevant, brands need to ensure that they embrace this form of content to stay as close to their consumers as possible, allowing them to provide content that really matters.

You can find details of the speakers and the presentation from the event here.

Christina Hirst
Content Strategist

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