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The explosion of User-Generated video content

Written by Michael Maximillian Moss
Co-founder & CEO at Nova A.I.

London, UK, (27 May 2021)

Why this has happened and how businesses need to react.

As touched upon in my recent article, ‘The Skyrocketing of video consumption during the Covid-19 Pandemic’, the course of the pandemic has seen a drastic change in consumer behaviour. More time at home has meant more time online shopping (an element of behaviour we can see is now preferred by many to in-store shopping, despite the easing of lockdown), scrolling of Instagram, and interestingly, a vast increase in not just video consumption across social media and video streaming platforms, but a dramatic increase and ‘trend’ in user-generated video content.

So, what is user-generated content? And why does it matter?

Christina in ‘A Marketer’s Guide to Using User-Generated Content on Social Media’ (Newberry, 2019) defines user-generated content as ‘any content - text, videos, images, reviews, etc. - created by people, rather than brands’. Pretty simple to get your head round then, and, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you have probably noticed the explosion of this user-generated content snowballing across social media platforms such as TikTok, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. From thousands of user-generated beauty tutorials on Instagram, to teen dance-offs on TikTok in onesies, the choice of UGC is endless and increasing day by day.

There is no surprise then that businesses across the board are lapping up this new form of content with eager anticipation, facilitating the use of UGC video for their own marketing means for website and social media content. Because this type of content is really, really popular. Why? Because UGC is incredibly engaging, at times hilarious, and often immensely creative. Elements that businesses and brands would (and should!) love to emulate within their own marketing means to rack up those video views and help promote their brand and its’ products.

Still not convinced?

If you’re not convinced by that, you should be with this -  70% of consumers trust customer opinions, whereas only 25% trust advertising (Wright, 2020). Nearly 80% of consumers also say that UGC has a high impact on their purchasing decisions. (Newberry, 2019). But why is this? Apart from often being funny and engaging, UGC (and particularly UGC video content) is arguably authentic, trustworthy, and importantly relatable.

Let’s be honest, watching a video made by someone who could be one of your friends promoting a product you’re interested in, and who appears to really genuinely like it, will most likely make you trust the product more, and therefore buy it - compared to your conventional, glammed-up photoshoot ad set in an expensive studio with a model you can’t relate to, nor care about.

UGC offers audience-trusted insight into your brand’s integrity and reliability, helping boost your brand image and dependability. Yes, user-generated content can increase the risk of negative exposure, but on the whole it’s only going to benefit the authenticity of your image, and reach a wider, more engaged audience - resulting in higher conversion rate and overall better ad performance (Vandermeer, 2020). With 80% of brands voicing their community-building efforts having resulted in increased traffic (Vandermeer, 2020), then there really is no reason to not start including UGC in your marketing strategy.

And if you want some inspiration, check out the ingenious UGC campaign, ‘66 Day Challenge’ run by fitness highflyers Gym Shark  on TikTok, whereby their campaign hashtag based purely on UGC received a phenomenal 45.5 million views (Gilliand,2020). The power of UGC is proven.

Here’s a few tips to get you started with UGC:

1. Build a social media video contest

Jump-start a social media contest on Instagram. This could include motivating followers to join with a reward (but don’t get hung-up on this, 60 percent of users just want to showcase their own content, regardless of award incentives!), and importantly re-share their UGC to your page. This can rack up UGC very quickly, and therefore increase engagement and audience reach for your brand fast.

2. Hashtag UGC campaigns/contests

This could be seen as similar to above, but specifically to campaigns driven by brand hashtags. The beauty of hashtags is if they’re good, they have the ability to go viral FAST, increasing visibility, engagement and subsequent increased following for your brand when followers upload related content like videos and photos with the hashtag (SmartInsights,2018).. Generally, the more wacky, simple, and fun the hashtag, the better they do. So get thinking outside the box!

3. Work that seasonal content

UGC holiday content is fantastic to re-share on your social media platforms, as it not only creates a sense of longing for the featured seasonal period (and therefore associates a positive connection with season and your product/brand), but it allows brands to humanise themselves by connecting with their followers on an emotional level (SmartInsights, 2018).

4. Show off  your brand loyalty

Showcasing your biggest fans’ UGC content featuring your brand/products allows others to experience your brand through your followers’ own eyes. This succeeds in creating desire and longing for your brand (as most people trust the opinions of consumers like themselves, rather than advertising!). UGC allows brands to mobilise brand excitement, and encourage a sense of loyalty with your brand for new followers (Newberry, 2019).

Hopefully, you're all set now to start exploring the possibilities of UGC video content for your business.

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