User Generated Content - Our Point of View

Much discussion is taking place regarding how brands have been A/B testing UGC (user generated content). UGC is replacing disruptive advertisements on major social media platforms — such as Facebook and Instagram — for a more native approach, utilizing (mostly visual) content that is honest, and natural: content that belongs, not advertising.

The Disruptive Ad Model

We’ve all been there — you’re minding your own business, scrolling through Facebook or Instagram, and the same bright stock images of clearly posed individuals find their way into your personal space, yet again.

And this is really good stock photography, compared to what’s out there.

More than ever, stock images are extremely easy for consumers to spot. Both brands and agencies need to be more selective in determining what visuals go onto which platforms, instead of resizing creative to fit each individual space. With the rise of user generated content, much of which is created by millennials, anything that doesn’t fit that native look and feel is easily spotted. And that’s where the disruptive ad model comes in.

In other words, if your ads seamlessly blend into social media spaces, users will spend more time observing and interacting with them instead of filing them in with the rest of the noise they’re bombarded by.

The Native Ad Model

The native ad model relies on your audience. Or, if you’re able to create UGC-styled imagery yourself, you’re more than welcome to do it. But, you’ll be missing out on the extreme value participating in true social networking has.

Today, we’re living amongst a generation of heavy content creators, where 60% of millennials create and publish content online. What matters most to the millennial generation is personalized content that is true to the individual being served with the ad. They want to feel they have some sort of influence on a brand; they want to be heard and understood at a visceral level.

The Application

Let engagement be the standard. You may not end up with an impressive quantity of conversions right from the start, but you will start to see quality interaction as users begin to engage with your content. Likely, the more users engage, the more willing they are to come back for new information at a later date. Over time, and depending on how good you get at selecting the right UGC to incorporate, you will start to see those conversions from quantity to quality engagement.

Food For Thought

Today, there are more travel bloggers and influencers — both at the micro and macro level — creating content for brands that matter than any other industry, and certainly more than the brands themselves. Some are generating content because they are seeking to build their own brand. Others are looking for partnership opportunities with brands and agencies in hopes their influence will extend client reach. That said, you can now acquire solid content for a fraction of what it would have traditionally cost in years past.

So, don’t simply dive into UGC for your brand campaigns. A/B test to see how users will begin to interact with the images you select, and compare that interaction with those ads you have been running with existing campaigns.

Also, keep in mind that native ads are meant to be relatable to the consumer at a personal level. And, always (always!) ask for permission before using someone else’s content.

Written by
October 7, 2016