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User-generated content (UGC) is a sweeping trend at the intersection of social media, ecommerce and short-form video’s explosive growth. For brands, it’s also a marketing opportunity. Brands want relatable human beings with whom their consumers can identify to create content that promotes their products and values.
But now, in the age of millions of user-generated social media posts, how can brands account for all of the content out there that’s associated with their name? The dawn of generative AI tools only adds to the problem, piling on unrelatable, machine-built images and videos, leaving brands to sort through mountains of artificial content.
If brands can’t assess the landscape of their associated content online, how can they leverage the opportunity to move the needle on their marketing goals with relatable human narratives while avoiding brand-unsafe associations?
A new kind of UGC is taking shape: brand-directed user-generated content. With it, brands can still leverage the local connections and relatability of everyday customers and creators, but they can also shape UGC messaging, review the content to ensure brand safety and own the content to control how it’s shared.
Here’s how brands can exert control over their UGC to leverage it for their advantage, why safety and standardization must underpin shared solutions between brands and creators, and how companies can activate hyper-local creators to drive business outcomes in local communities and stores.
Related: The Beginner’s Guide to User-Generated Content
Give clear instructions for content creation
As brands explore the possibilities of partnering with everyday creators, a number of benefits immediately present themselves. The cost savings of working with accessible creators versus big-name influencers or even traditional advertising agencies speak for themselves. Affordability makes it easier for brands to experiment with new messaging strategies in their video content without breaking the bank.
But how can brands ensure that the content they’re getting from affordable, relatable creators conveys the desired message and aligns with the brand’s specific vision?
Communication from brands to creators is a relatively new area of growth that’s bolstering the viability of UGC as a marketing tool. For instance, a brand could clarify to creators that they want video content that explicitly highlights their new sustainable packaging. Controlling the narrative through clear creative directives is crucial for brands, particularly those with established reputations that want to uphold a certain level of quality and consistency as their content multiplies.
Another benefit of brands giving creators clear instructions for video content is speed. A brand can specify its parameters to a creator and get a usable piece of relevant content back the very same day. In the traditional world of promotional video production, that process could take weeks or even months. But by collaborating with creators and communicating clear guidelines, brands can get new content for their websites, social media accounts or advertisements in mere hours.
In contrast to influencer-posted UGC, brands that control the creative process and own the final product get far more marketing versatility from the piece of media. For example, the brand could use the video to quickly and affordably test and learn, share on social media accounts to stay active, integrate into paid advertising campaigns or embed into ecommerce sites to organically connect with consumers across the digital landscape.
Related: If You’re Not Using This Type of Content in Your Marketing, You’re Missing Out
Ensure brand safety and validated workflows
Once a creator makes a video for a brand, what happens next? For brands, it’s optimal to set up an arrangement that allows the company to own the content after its creation and control how it gets shared or posted. When brands own the content, they get to determine how it gets used. This is another distinction from influencer marketing, where brands pay internet celebrities to not only create content but also distribute it.
But as UGC grows in prominence and popularity, it’s becoming clear that both brands and creators need tools to efficiently connect and do business. A clean workflow that sits between the creator and the brand ensures that content is produced in accordance with clear goals and brand safety, creators get paid fairly for their work, and brands ultimately own the content and control its distribution as a piece of marketing material.
New marketplaces are emerging that allow brands to quickly find the right creators for the content they’re seeking and efficiently communicate their creative requirements. With these new marketplaces also comes new technology that’s able to validate the actors on both sides of the contract and safely deliver the content through a secure platform, bringing standardization and legitimacy to UGC to maximize its efficacy.
Related: How to Upgrade Your Digital Branding With User-Generated Content
Work with hyper-local contributors
When brands are seeking out creators, they don’t have to cast a wide net. In fact, brands can identify creators in specific areas or communities to deliver hyper-local messaging and relate to residents of the area even more. Brands and retailers can even send creators to a local store to pick up the product to feature in the video, eliminating the process of shipping it to them and expediting content creation.
Local UGC doesn’t have to just come from creators or customers. Brands and retailers are starting to realize the potential of their own people, from sales associates to product managers. Companies can leverage existing talent to make videos that speak to products in their work environment and leverage their unique knowledge of the product. This also lets workers earn some extra money on top of their hourly rates, uplifting employees and fostering loyalty.
As brands continue solving the puzzle of empowering creators, customers and employees to generate useful and valuable content, they’ll discover the benefits of clear communication, efficient production and safe workflows. This will unlock a whole new arena of scalable, highly relatable video content for brands.
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