With mobile phones offering better quality video and camera footage than ever before, user-generated content (UGC) has become a go-to for brands looking to enhance their marketing output. UGC is attractive to marketers as it’s an efficient way to harness authentic and personalised content, encourage engagement and help a brand do more than simply broadcast to its audience.

This trend is boosted by the vast popularity of social networks like Snapchat and Instagram. We’re all comfortable creating our own content now – it’s a rare person who’s never shot a video or shared a photo online. Combine this with the fact that everyone has access to a video camera and each person has the power to tell their own story.

But it’s not enough to simply curate video content. A story is what drives any good campaign forward and helps tie individual videos into a cohesive narrative. So, the starting point for any UGC led campaign should be in identifying this central narrative. What story are we looking to tell and how can individual videos contribute to it?

Santander’s 2016 advertising campaign was a great example of this. They created a central narrative – “money can’t buy you happiness” and then sourced UGC content which spoke to this theme. The clips used all showcased people having fun across the UK, allowing Santander to show how they were there for everyone.

This trend is only going to increase – we’re already seeing social networks explore ways to allow brands to curate user stories into a single package and we expect to see it continue as Snapchat and Instagram carry on fighting for eyeballs and advertising revenue.

But, such campaigns can only work if there’s a desire amongst our audiences to create their own video. Luckily for brands, social media has a halo effect – when we see one of our friends share a video and get positive feedback about it, we want to do the same. Amongst the younger generation, this ambition for praise and fame goes beyond our immediate social circles. Young creatives increasingly view video as their medium of choice because they see it as a way to become famous, either amongst their immediate community or by going viral and becoming the next internet sensation.

The Snapchat generation is comfortable and excited by the prospect of being video-first, making the platform a great source for marketing teams. We’ll continue to see UGC used more as both consumers and brands see value in its authenticity and creative flare. Despite ongoing developments to marketing tools and technologies, content will continue to reign supreme, providing audiences with the stories they want in an engaging way.

We’re only at the tip of the iceberg in terms of what UGC can do for brands and in media, with more people creating content there’s no limit to what can be achieved with authentic, quality stories.


By Jessica Townsend, head of brands and agency at Newsflare

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