Content marketing has become a high priority for both B2B as well B2C brands over the last couple of years. Many brands have taken the position that they effectively need to become publishers to market and win with consumers. In fact, according to Seth Godin, “Content marketing is all the marketing that’s left.”
With this focus on content, brands need a lot of it, ongoing and always on in order to fill their content hubs — their brand sites, retail partners and social channels like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.
Creating great content can be a huge win for a brand. After all it was an agency’s content studio that producedthe now-famous Oreo moment during a 34-minute blackout in the 2013 Super Bowl. But even Mondelez, makers of Oreo, said afterwards that the day-to-day costs associated with having a fully staffed content studio are not only high, but cannot fill the digital content “pipes” quickly or fully enough.
There is a plentiful supplement, however, in the form of user-generated content and plenty of tools and apps to enable these creators.
As social media platforms have grown exponentially and new ones continue to emerge, content created by consumers has become plentiful, compelling and scalable, and it makes financial sense for marketers to encourage and curate these creative executions.
Here are three reasons brands can and should make greater use of influencer UGC:
1. It’s plentiful and efficient.
Brands already have official accounts on Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Tumblr, etc., which Mondelez referred to as “pipes.” More than ever before, companies need content to fill those pipes constantly. Using consumer influencers — those who have an audience that is the target for your message — is a cost-efficient way to do so. There are lots of these content creators out there and, therefore, lots of content can be created efficiently.
2. It’s compelling.
Real-people testimonials feel a lot less “tainted” than brand messages because influencers reach everyday consumers who, in their own words, explain how a product helped them. Instead of touting a product’s features — “This car has a V6 engine!” — these influential users explain why they like it and how it fits into their lives: “I can get my kids in and out of the back seat easily.” Consumer endorsements add authenticity to the message, which is why product reviews on many company sites such as Amazon, are so widely read and given.
Not to mention that, according to econsultancy, 61% of shoppers read product reviews before making a purchase.
3. It’s scalable.
These content creators and influencers have built-in audiences. We recognize the power of YouTube creators, Instagrammers, bloggers, and the like, and the dedicated followings they bring. Their collective reach can number in the tens of millions, and their followers, friends and families trust them. It’s called content with integrity because it’s a way for someone who already uses your brand to tell your story for you.
For these types of executions to work properly, brands must be comfortable giving up some control. Coke may have worried about use of its trademark with #shareacoke, but they let their customers co-create with them anyway.
As more companies recognize that marketing is interactive by necessity, they’ll learn to let go and let loyal customers share their joy in their brand. These customers may or may not produce a singular, buzz-worthy moment like Oreo, but they can produce lots of little moments that drive tremendous value over time.