User-generated content: Letting your audience tell your story

The dream for any brand is having their audience tell their story for them.

One of our most powerful motivators as consumers is when a friend or someone similar to us recommends something to us. It adds that human element and moves the sales pitch from being something corporate to something personal.

That doesn’t mean hiring a young actor to star in an advert aimed at teenagers will do the job. Modern audiences are far too savvy to fall for that old chestnut.

Instead it’s about bringing real life into your campaigns.  Research shows ads featuring live filming of real people, emotion and humour perform far better than ads without these elements. This doesn’t mean going out on the street and doing mock interviews with people about why they love your brand of soft drink or latest app. That’s just as fake.

So, if it’s not a scripted advert or a set up interview, how do you get your audience to tell a story for you?

The personal touch

It’s simple really – find ways to make real people a part of your story.

Start by asking yourself - what’s my theme and what’s the journey I want to take my audience on. Once you know this, you can then look for content created by your audience and use it to tell that story.

You get the personal touch, your audience gets an authentic experience and the content creator gets the thrill of having their work showcased to an audience. Everyone wins.  

Santander took exactly this approach with its money can’t buy you happiness advert. The brand found the theme and then used video from real people to bring it to life.

It worked because the videos used didn’t just speak to real life, but were real life – they were raw and intimate, funny and moving, honest and off the cuff. For a second you forget you’re watching an ad and instead feel like you’re getting a peek into someone’s life.

For the sceptics out there, look at what at the most popular channels on YouTube amongst younger audiences. It’s not big flashy productions or expensive animation; its vloggers sat in front of a camera talking about their day.

Searching for authenticity

Authenticity is lapped up by audiences and they respond with fierce loyalty.

User generated content (UGC) can help provide that same personal connection for your next marketing campaign. If that wasn’t enough to sway you, research actually shows that UGC video is trusted 50 per cent more than information from other sources, and is 35 per cent more memorable that any other media type.

Of course, utilising user generated video in this way brings its own challenges. For one, the videographer owns all the rights and you can’t just pull their clips off the web for use in a TV advert.

This is a good thing – but remember when you approach someone asking to use their video you’re not negotiating with a professional. Make a fair offer and don’t try and rip off the creator. If it’s valuable enough for you to use in an advert or as part of a social campaign, it’s only fair the original creator shares in that value.  

At Newsflare we pride ourselves on helping connect brands and publications with the best, most human video from across the web. And in doing so we ensure the creators get the recognition (and payment) they deserve.

Equally importantly, if you’re striving for your video to tell a real human story, it’s vital you’re not using video which was specifically created for the purpose of going viral. Taking the time to verify the video is real and not staged is something every brand needs to do before they share any piece of user generated content.

When doing this you’re essentially asking yourself one simple question – is this too good to be true? If it is, you’re best off steering clear.

The next time you’re planning a brand video – ask yourself, can I tell this story a different way, in a way which is more human. If the answer is yes, then consider the role UGC can play in bringing your story to life.

I’m not saying replace imagination and fiction entirely, I’m just urging you to consider ways you can merge them with real life. Give it a try – the results will amaze you.

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18 Apr 2017, 8:05 a.m.

More useful and informative blog... keep on update these kings of worthy things!!!