User-generated content: A boon for brand sales and market credibility

When consumers step into the role of advertisers and start speaking for the brand on various platforms, it gives the brand a kind of credibility and proximity with consumers that no amount of advertising can match. finds out how user-generated content is working for brands

Akansha Srivastava
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As a part of its usual marketing strategy, a global brand like Coca Cola would have spent millions of dollars to push its global sales by 2% in less than six months. The 2% increase might sound small here but the volume is huge when looked at in the global perspective.

Coke achieved this kind of an impact not just by buying major chunk of media presence, sponsoring key events across the world. It was by initiating a user-generated campaign, 'Share a Coke', on social media.

When Coke launched personalised coke bottles, 'Share a Coke' became one of the most sought after user-generated content campaigns. As a part of the campaign, the customers were asked to share pictures of themselves having Coke in their personalised bottle on social media. As a result, Coca Cola’s customers became the brand’s endorsers as well. According to international reports, sales of the brand also went up by 2% due to the campaign.

Traditionally, no brand has become big without word of the mouth publicity from its users. What has transformed this oldest form of publicity is the online medium.

Through what's now called the user-generated content, the format can even beat the impact and reach of traditional media and could prove to be much more credible than any form of paid advertising.

Building on this insight, the brands have realised that consumers need real stories, connection and interaction than just being pushed by sales tactics and hence giving birth to user-generated content (UGC), which is generated by unpaid contributors in the form of pictures, videos, testimonials, tweets, blog posts and other things that users generate in promoting a brand rather than the brand itself.

A lot of brands have entered the content marketing space and are generating content in-house by partnering with content creators, platforms and agencies. But with the growth of much informed and educated consumers, the need of the hour is to create a lot of UGC because the content created by a real user versus the content created by a creator working at an agency would be far more impactful, useful and insightful.

Madhavi Irani

Emphasising on the importance of UGC, Madhavi Irani, Chief Content Officer, Nykaa, the online beauty marketplace, said, “UGC has become the most vital element of an integrated content marketing strategy, and is the best way of allowing your most passionate customers become your brand advocates, and build communities around your products and services. Amidst the noise out there, it becomes very important to offer an authentic, unbiased point of view that presents the real picture. Most importantly, it empowers your stakeholders, making them an important part of the conversation, with the power to make (or break) your brand.”

Keeping in mind the power of user-generated content, Nykaa recently launched Nykaa Network, an interactive platform where subscribers can chat with other beauty buffs, ask and answer beauty-related questions, give and seek advice, discover trends and join conversations on topics of their interest. The platform was launched in mid-March and by the end of June, it crossed 200,000 subscribers with about 13,000 signing up every week.

In July 2017, Coca-Cola reimagined its company website to ‘Journey’ in form of digital magazine. While the earlier website had all the official communication from the company, the 2.0 version of the website is now using the storytelling format to communicate and engage with its target audience in a meaningful way. ‘Journey’ is more engaging and fetches a lot of its content contributed by its consumers.

Arpan Basu

Arpan Basu, General Manager & Head Communications at Coca-Cola India & South West Asia at Coca-Cola India, said, “A conversation only becomes more engaging and interesting where there is a two-way dialogue. As long as you get the other person talking along with yourself, that’s where the fun begins and that’s the beauty of user-generated content.”

The quality of user-generated content for any brand shows the love of its consumers. Zomato, Expedia and Airbnb are a few names that have made the most out of its user-generated content, especially in the times when there are innumerable paid bloggers and plethora of branded content happening around. If the quality of the content would be genuine, it would be distributed well and consumed well in the same manner.

Momspresso, the content platform for moms, has 90% of its content user-generated with over 7,000 mom bloggers contributing up to 200 pages of long-format content and 60-80 short-format stories every day.

Vishal Gupta

Commenting on how the brands can maintain the quality of UGC, Vishal Gupta, Co-Founder, Momspresso, said, “Brands need to have a sharply defined audience for their communication objective and should involve the user in every stage of the content marketing process. You should involve the same users in the content calendar while talking about a particular topic.”

Another content marketing expert said that while working with external user-generated content platforms, the brands should check the authenticity and quality of content on it before associating themselves with it.

Brands are clearly moving towards doing more UGC but there is a long way ahead as when brands create content, it’s difficult for them to do on a sustainable basis. Gupta said, “Brands must invest in building relationships. You can’t stop at doing a content campaign for a month and should periodically do content that relates, educates and empower the consumers. If the content doesn’t add value to the life of the consumer, it is not worth doing.”

market credibility A boon for brand sales User-generated content