The ubiquity of social networks has unlocked the enormous marketing potential of user-generated content (UGC). Although the Internet has always been used as a sharing tool – sharing thoughts or the exchange of ideas or images – the era of social platforms such as Youtube, Facebook and Twitter made it easy to share more easily and quickly. The capacity to create, manipulate and share digital content over an ever-growing number of online services has effectively rendered the old trope of “one sender, one receiver” obsolete.
The scope of these new distribution methods mean that popular influencers can reach larger audiences than established media companies. Not to be outdone, brands are leveraging the opportunities offered by UGC to allow people to participate in brand campaigns, converting fans into producers. At best, consumer content can outperform the brand-created content. And brands are constantly looking for great content. Content is driving Interactions, Traffic and User Engagement – the currency of our time. With a little help of UGC a good idea can evolve into great content and a lot of buzz for companies or brands.
But it’s not only marketing purposes that can be perceived. Brands always have the possibility to get valuable feedback concerning their product. Business Intelligence can use this kind of crowdsourcing to improve the product. Customer opinions can even replace cost intensive market research. UGC saves costs on different levels.
But with big chances of the UGC there are also some risks. If an idea is publicly shared it can be remixed and the purpose of a campaign can be interpreted by fans as well as people who like to make fun of your brand. When Otto Group – one of world’s largest retail ecommerce companies – encouraged users to enter an online model contest to be the face of their Facebook page and everybody was allowed to vote, a guy dressed up like a woman and won the competition. Unless it was unintended Otto Group accepted the winner with humour. UGC can lead to an outcome a brand does not see coming.
Of course there are several UGC campaigns that were successful in every way.
McDonald’s let their fans create their own burgers in the “Burger Battle” and share them within social media – the burger with the most likes became a real product and was sold in their restaurants after the campaign. Every fan turned into a food creator. At the same time McDonald’s burger was brought to the attention and the interaction of fans and the brand awareness greatly increased.
Similarly Nintendo invented the “Super Mario Maker” New game content was developed by the users: More levels and worlds were created, identification with the game reinforced and many users felt like a game developer. In addition to the creativity that users brought, the users for Nintendo became a source of inspiration and an interesting crowdsourcing market research for the compan
From the perspective of the company, recommendations from friends and relatives are gold standard worth. Word of mouth has always been one of the most effective advertising methods. In addition, the content of the users is usually free for the company. Users generate content, share the brand message and the company; UGC creates trust and has the potential to go viral.
M-BIZ Global also uses UGC in its Mini-Games. In addition to individualizing a game, companies have the opportunity to individually address and integrate each user. E.g. through unique, personal photos that are puzzled together in the “Puzzle Mate” game. The user can upload his/her own photo into the game and create a unique jigsaw puzzle. The puzzle is personal, the user’s emotional bond with his own photo is an experience which is fun and based on positive emotions. Entertaining and engaging formats are the key to marketing and sales success.
UGC is valuable because it already has value for the user. The emotional involvement of a user is a feeling that most companies want to trigger – to remain in memory.