Why user-generated content is king

No, UGC isn’t just a hype and here’s why.

Helena Myhrman
Flowbox Insights

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Written by: Helena Nordh Myhrman, Head of Content at Flowbox

Advertising and content marketing are not two separate things anymore, they’re merging together. Everyone is doing content marketing. But is content still king in 2019?

Is content dead?

Content has been around for a while, and while there are a lot of great content marketing examples to find, there are also several poor examples.

A while back, author and marketer John Ellett claimed that “Content Marketing Is Dead! Long Live Marketing!” in a Forbes article.

There is a saturation of content and especially bad content. With social media it has become easy to publish and distribute videos and articles. It has become so easy to distribute content that the quality of the content itself has in some cases been deprioritized.

Many people think that content marketing is a downward sloping trend. The saying “content is king” has been exchanged for “content is dead”.

Bad content is dead, good content isn’t.

Outbound marketing serves a clear purpose when it comes to creating awareness and reaching the broad masses. But without content, as an important part of inbound marketing, brands would face difficulties sparking real conversations and engagement online.

Content is what’s being shared in social media and online. It’s what leads consumers to new brands and builds loyalty. Display ads typically don’t serve this purpose.

According to Content Marketing Institute’s 2019 B2C research, 56% of content marketers increased spending in content creation in the last 12 months. This would imply an increased focus on quality and the production process.

Source: Content Marketing Institute, B2C Content Marketing 2019: Benchmark, Budgets and Trends

Content is a cornerstone in marketing and an essential part of search ranking as well as conversion. It’s unlikely that this will change in the next few years. Many social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter punish spammy behavior and engagement bait, forcing companies to put more focus on authentic content that sparks real engagement.

The key to getting your target audience to engage with your content is to truly understand what resonates with them, according to Michael Brenner of Marketing Insider Group.

Content challenges brands are facing

Now that we’ve clarified that content isn’t dead, let’s take a look at the future of content marketing and the challenges that content marketers are facing.

Content marketing is becoming increasingly difficult for a couple of reasons:

1.The production costs are usually high. There is often a time and quality aspect with content marketing that can make it difficult for smaller brands to successfully manage. Great content must be consistent and of good quality as well as being distributed on a regular basis, and this is something that requires a fair amount of resources.

2. Competition and an excess of content makes it difficult to stand out. With so much content out there, being seen and heard, and standing out from the crowd, is a tough challenge for most brands. A generous budget for distribution will only take you so far. If the content itself isn’t unique or attracts your audience, your CPC will be higher than necessary, even if your budget is sufficient.

3. Building trust is tough. Consumers are drowning in targeted ads and online content, created and distributed for the purpose of attracting potential customers and generating leads. This makes it difficult for brands to build genuine and authentic customer relationships.

How UGC comes into the picture

User-generated content (UGC) refers to content that’s been created and distributed by users on digital platforms. UGC isn’t limited to just photos and videos, it can be anything from blog posts to product reviews.

The phenomenon became widely used in the mid-2000s and today, it’s a crucial part of many brands’ content marketing strategies. With the rise of social platforms, anyone can easily create and share content from their mobile devices and this is part of the reason why even smaller brands can often find a good amount of UGC on digital platforms.

By using UGC, brands can effectively involve their customers and build a strong community. It’s also a way to get access to material that can be difficult for brands to create themselves, for example videos or photos showing products or services being used in a real context.

Before I started here, there was no common thread in our digital communication. And now, we have all the marketing teams focusing on relevant content, high quality pictures and our own tonality. As a result, the engagement on Facebook has increased with 900 % in the last 12 months.”

David Björkeryd, E‑Commerce & Digital Manager at Hard Rock Cafe in Gothenburg, Oslo, Stockholm and Helsinki

Consumers are becoming less accepting of invasive advertising, and with the rise of ad blockers and TV viewership rates on decline, UGC has been welcomed by many brands as a way of gaining trust and credibility. Simply put: Consumers trust their peers and are more likely to act on peer recommendation than on a traditional ad, coming from the company itself.

UGC is a way of making your content marketing even more cost-efficient and making use of what customers are already saying about your brand. For many marketers, constantly and on a frequent basis producing new, unique content is a big challenge.

And although UGC often just constitutes a smaller part of a brand’s content mix, it can replace certain types of content that normally are associated with high production costs, such as videos and product photos, thus reducing the content crunch a lot of marketers experience.

Besides improving conversion rates and click-through rates, UGC as an integrated part of a company’s website also tends to improve dwell time.

User-generated content is definitely not a hype. I think in few years it will still be just as important,” says Elles van Leeuwen, Online Marketing Coordinator at Lucardi

However, the goal isn’t to replace all your content with UGC, it’s problably not possible either. UGC should be used to take your content marketing and ecommerce to the next level in terms of trust, conversions, credibility and production costs. Because it will.

Got any questions? We’d love to hear from you! Write us at hello@getflowbox.com.

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Helena Myhrman
Flowbox Insights

Head of Content at Flowbox and Editor of Flowbox Insights. Get in touch: helena.myhrman@getflowbox.com