Are you ready for the visual user generated content (UGC) takeover?
Because it’s here in a big way.
All it takes is about five seconds on Instagram or Facebook to see firsthand how integral UGC has become to modern marketing. Sooner rather than later, brands will sink or swim based on their ability to leverage UGC.
It’s becoming more and more difficult to find brands that aren’t using customer photos and follower feedback as part of their content marketing strategies.
Let’s be clear, though: the rise of user generated content has been a long time coming. Far from a fad or buzzphrase, consumers and followers are much more receptive to UGC versus salesy, “look at me” advertising content that’s going the way of the dinosaur.
The Six Striking Stats Signalling the Strength of Visual UGC
Through user generated content, brands have come to understand that their followers and fans are their best billboards.
From luxury fashion brands in the world of ecommerce to your local food truck or cafe, just about any business has something to gain through UGC.
But hey, you don’t have to take our word for it.
The numbers don’t lie when it comes to the power of UGC and how it represents a staple for the future of marketing.
Higher conversions? Check.
Greater customer loyalty? Check.
More shares? Check.
And that’s just for starters.
We’ve broken down six of the most striking statistics regarding the power of UGC for modern marketers. Each of these stats paints a clear picture of the future of content marketing and eCommerce at large.
Now, let’s dive right in!
1. User Generated Photos are 5x More Likely to Convert Customers vs. Non-UGC
We’ve done quite a bit of homework ourselves on just how remarkable visual commerce and UGC is for our own clients.
According to client data from the Photoslurp platform, user generated images are more likely to convert customers when paired against “professional” or non-UGC images.
In fact, we learned that social users are five times more likely to make a purchase after clicking on a user generated photo.
Why does UGC perform so well, though?
Well, consider first that user generated photos allow brands to show off their products in a real-world setting. As noted by our data, customers would much rather see products “in the wild” versus slapped on a dull white background. As the old saying goes, “it’s all in the presentation.”
With UGC, it’s also possible to promote products without coming off as aggressive or salesy. The following post from Au Revoir Cinderella is a shining example of how to turn UGC into sales.
Boasting thousands of “likes” it’s certainly possible to find a balance between promotion and providing followers with content they love.
(Brands can make this whole process easier for their clients by setting up a Shoppable Instagram page, which allows them to shop the product directly from the user-generated image.)
Although there’s certainly a time and place for professional product photos and models alike, it’s much easier for people to picture themselves with products that are presented by their peers.
The beauty of UGC is that it can be used beyond the confines of a social feed, too. For example, check out how Brownie implements a lookbook of UGC on-site to show off their products and satisfied customers:
This lookbook is not only for inspiration, visitors can buy the products featured in the user generated images. Our friends from Brownie know how a smart ecommerce looks like, that’s why they connected each client’s photo to the product page by adding a Shop This Look button:
It’s crystal clear that consumers today crave a visual component to their shopping experiences. That said, seeing products in real-world settings helps seal the deal with today’s buyers. User generated content provides a follower-friendly avenue to make purchases.
2. 69% of Adults Claim to Upload Selfies to Social Media (Including 87% of Millennials)
Regardless of how you personally feel about selfies, they undoubtedly represent one of the most popular forms of UGC. According to Statista, 69% of adults have hopped on the selfie bandwagon, including a massive 87% of millennials.
At a glance, this stat might not seem like a game-changer.
“Okay, so people take selfies. Big deal. So what?”
Well, consider that through selfies nearly three-quarters of all social users already are creating UGC themselves.
Besides, the popularity of selfies shouldn’t come as much of a surprise for marketers, especially considering…
- Selfies can obviously be created and posted in a matter of seconds. Click. Filter. Upload. Done.
- They represent truly organic, unique content: selfies are genuinely one-of-a-kind and rarely reek of a sales pitch
- Selfies place emphasis on a person as the subject of a photo rather than solely a product
That’s certainly not to say that marketers can’t leverage selfies as part of their UGC strategy. Quite the opposite, actually.
GoPro represents a prime example of a brand that capitalizes on the popularity of selfies. Not only does GoPro’s Instagram feed boast eye-popping user generated selfies, but also shows the awesomeness of their cameras in action. Selfies like this also speak to GoPro’s brand itself, painting a picture of adventure for their customers:
Similarly, brands like oVertone make extensive use of selfies to show off their line of bold hair dye. Through the “#overtone” hashtag, followers are encouraged to show off their looks for the chance of being featured in the brand’s feed:
Selfie campaigns require very little effort on the part of brands who’ve already taken the time to create their own hashtags. Requiring no native apps or complicated editing, selfies have almost no barrier to entry for your followers.
The key takeaway here is twofold:
- Social followers from all walks of life are already on board with UGC.
- Your followers are more than happy to create UGC on your behalf, as long as you make the effort to encourage it.
Marketers shouldn’t be cynical toward selfies. Instead, such snapshots should be viewed as a potential user generated goldmine.
3. 47% of the Top-Performing Content Marketing Teams Rely Extensively on UGC
Modern marketing often feels like a game of “follow the leader,” right?
Well, it’s obvious that the biggest leaders in content marketing are currently knee deep in UGC.
According to Salesforce’s 2016 State of Marketing Report, nearly half of the top-performing content marketing leaders today rely on user generated content.
For example, the common links between many of the most-followed brands on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter are clear:
- The willingness to share their followers’ content
- An eagerness to engage with customer comments and feedback
- A sense of personality that brings them closer to their followers
Given that brands boasting millions of social followers regularly show their fans love in the form of retweets and regrams, brands with smaller bases have no good reason not to do the same.
Remember: there is no one-size-fits-all approach to user generated content. From branded hashtag campaigns to simply picking the brains of your followers, there are almost no limits for brands willing to get creative. Consider Oreo’s recent Facebook campaign which asks their 40 million+ fans to submit ideas for their latest cookie flavour in exchange for a $500k prize:
Regardless of whether you’re appealing to a base of hundreds or millions, UGC certainly deserves your attention.
4. UGC Can Significantly Improve Conversion Rates. The Numbers Change Depending On Your Industry
Any and all brands can reap the rewards of user generated content.
That said, certain industries and niches tend to convert more customers through UGC than others.
As noted in L2’s Instagram Intelligence Report, UGC has the highest impact on conversion rates in the following five niches:
- Fashion and apparel (+6.4%)
- Jewelry (+2.4%)
- Footwear (+1.7%)
- Beauty (+1.6%)
- Consumer electronics (+1.6%)
These numbers make sense considering that each of these industries generally represents physical versus digital products.
That’s not to say that brands operating outside of these niches are a lost cause when it comes to UGC. As illustrated by brands such as AirBNB and Ben & Jerry’s who have massively dedicated followings, user generated is fair game for any industry. Simply put, some niches are simply more poised for sales directly via social media than others.
5. By 2020, more than 50% of commercial content will be created outside of marketing.
Based on predictions from the International Data Corporation, consumers will outpace marketers in terms of content creation by 2020.
In other words, brands are on track to hand all of their marketing firepower over to their fans and followers.
Traditional commercial content doesn’t have the traction that it used to. Millenials in particular loathe the concept of being sold to. Meanwhile, ad-block usage is at an all-time high worldwide.
The takeaway here is that brands need to experiment with user generated content instead of hoping for a magical resurgence of paid and native advertising beyond social media. Chances are, it’s not going to happen.
Rather than throw money at ads, savvy brands are using hashtags, giveaways and contests to get fans and followers excited about their products. Challenges such as Hot Topic‘s “#AniMay” hashtag campaign serve as a brilliant way to reward followers and display their most popular pieces:
Another classic example of a creative campaign is Marc Jacobs’ #CastMeMarc. In short, Instagram users compete annually for a spot as the next Marc Jacobs beauty vlogger by telling their story via the branded hashtag. Considering that the hashtag has well over 100,000 posts to its name, it’s no doubt that the campaign was a success.
As traditional commercial content loses steam, social media looks to pick up the slack for brands and advertisers alike.
6. Visual Content is 40x More Likely to Be Shared on Social Media
There’s no denying the power of the written word for marketers, but there’s something to be said about the current emphasis on visual content marketing.
According to a study by Buffer, content featuring images is forty times more likely to score shares via social media.
That number is staggering, but perhaps not surprising.
After all, we live in an era where our audience would much rather watch a video or peek at an infographic versus trudging through walls of text. From a sales perspective, images are proven to increase conversion rates and keep people on any given page for longer periods of time.
Brands understand the need to give their audience something to look at. When in doubt, user generated content represents the go-to choice for visual content based on the previously noted statistics. Although there are other forms of UGC out there such as written reviews and comments, imagery should be the top priority for brands looking to squeeze as many shares as they can out of their content.
Why User Generated Content is the New Normal
We’ve reached a tipping point in terms of what consumers want from the brands.
Plain and simple, the majority of people follow brands on social media in some way, shape or form, including a staggering 95% of millennials. These same followers are on the lookout for new products and deals, just as they’ve always been.
But people want to talk with brands rather than be talked at.
After all, there’s nothing more disappointing than staring at a lifeless social feed filled with nothing but promotional posts. Brands that treat their content strategy as a giant commercial will inevitably tune out potential buyers.
Here’s some food for thought: three-quarters of consumers are frustrated by brands promoting irrelevant content.
Translation? The old-school approach of “in-your-face” advertising content is not clicking with consumers anymore. This rings especially with the younger crowd who have been conditioned to distrust spammy sales messages. Instead, they trust personal recommendations from their peers (hint: through photos and feedback they create).
On the flip side, user generated content puts brands on the same level as their customers. The interactive nature of UGC represents a personal connection between brands and buyers that can’t be ignored.
The more personalized, positive interactions brands make with followers, the more likely those followers are to turn into long-term customers.
Are You All-In on User Generated Content?
User generated content isn’t a marketing buzzphrase or flavour of the week. As social media usage continues to skyrocket, more UGC will continue to circulate the web in response.
There’s both a branding and financial incentive for businesses and brands to incorporate UGC into their marketing strategies as soon as possible. The future of content marketing won’t be about who’s the loudest voice in the room, but rather who’s making the most effort to connect with fans and followers.
Do you find any of these stats to be particular surprisingly? What do you think the future holds for UGC? Let us know in the comments below!