Digital video arms race: why user generated content strategies will be a marketer’s saviour

Cross device access has made user generated content one of the fast-growing sectors available to marketers. James Towers takes us through sharable, profitable video options that won't break the budget.

Video content is tipped to account for around 80% of all internet traffic by 2019 and according to Mark Zuckerberg 90% of Facebook’s content will be video by 2018. Marketers the world over let out a collective ‘oh dear’.james-towers-16k-agency

It’s tough work being a marketer today. It’s all data insights and platform nuances and far less media owner-funded junkets and long lunches.

Marketers today have the most rapidly evolving landscape of all time and often we feel we are just chasing audiences around trying to appear for a quick view here, or a engagement there on a myriad of platforms and channels.

We’re desperately seeking our audience’s undivided attention and it seems each day a new report comes out telling us that attention has shifted somewhere different.

A constant theme of the past 12-18 months has been talk about video and how it’s about to crush almost every other bit of content on the internet over the next four years.

It’s this that’s got a lot of brands and marketers worried because it’s the most expensive and time consuming format to create. As Bauer Media just found out, simply creating video to get you into the party doesn’t mean people will want to engage with you.

Video can make a marketer’s eyes water because it usually means a video guy, some assistants, an editor, a sound chick, catering, a location or set and talent. Video is significantly more expensive to produce than it is to hire some junior journalists to bash out content pieces all day. It’s even cheaper to find content writers if you’re happy to use contributors in India. Mamamia! What is a marketer to do?!

User-generated content, or UGC as us cool media people refer to it, has been used well in the past by a select few major brands. The best part about UGC used to be that it engaged your audience and firmed up a brand’s ‘tribe’. But in the days of expensive video content creation UGC might just be a saviour of the massive cost of constant video production.

The Brands That Got UGC Right

Coke’s ‘Share a Coke’ campaign was a mega success for the brand in Australia seeing not just an uplift in sales and brand salience in Australia but it was successful in another 80 countries. Coke engaged its audience so well that consumers were seeking out their individual names in stores and sharing these images madly to their friends and followers.coca-cola-name-brand-bottles-on-phone-mobile

The Starbucks ‘white cup contest’ tapped into the creative and talented customer base and provided the brand with unique and engaging social media fodder for weeks as customers sent in their painstaking designs all for the love of art.


Apple’s recent ‘Shot on an iPhone’ campaign and GoPro’s al-round epic content creation tools allow these brands to galvanise their audience but more importantly, create epic content that their audience will love, because it’s the audience that filmed, edited and produced it. Sure, some of these campaigns had significant media budgets to amplify them but the production cost lied mostly with the user.shot-on-iphone-6

At the other end of the scale, without large budgets for amplification look at brands like Happy Socks or Memobottle who almost solely rely on UGC to fill their social media feeds. It resonates the best too because it’s exactly what the fans of the brand want to see. Without briefs, the audience create the perfect content.

The principle for UGC in the digital video era remains the same: allow a platform for creation and amplification and empower the tribe.

Almost everyone consuming a brand’s digital video content will almost certainly have the power to create their own on the exact device they’re watching it on.

Video Content Doesn’t Need to Haunt Marketers

Facebook Live and Periscope are great examples of new video channels that are accessible to brands large and small and they don’t need budget to be done well. This recent live segment from ASOS was a creative way in which a brand can create compelling video content free of charge.

New creative content creation platform Kwickie, produces UGC between fans and celebrities that appears ‘live.’

It was built from the insight that brands need engaging video content and fans want to engage with well-known brand ambassadors and celebs. Brands can manage and then share this UGC on their own social channels – a seamless video made in seconds and ready for distribution to the masses.

Under Armour and the Fox 8’s ‘The Recruit’ are already dipping their toes into the water on the platform.fox-8-the-recruit-screen-shot

Boomerang – Plugging straight into Instagram this is a creative tool that allows fans to animate a moment in time they might be happening to share with a brand. The sheer nature of the looping videos turns the average follower into a quirky creative video producer. Made in seconds, the content is snackable and memorable.  It’s easy to create and brands can share it outside of Instagram too.boomerang-from-instagram

Musical.ly burst onto the seen recently trading places with Snapchat at times as the most downloaded app. Users become the star of their own music video lip syncing their way through a chosen song better than Britney Spears ever did. The video content created in seconds is memorable, humorous and sticky content.

A good marketer today is a practitioner. Trial and learning happens on the fly and although the landscape is fast moving, video is going to be a constant.

If marketers can tap into the creation power of their audience they’ll end up with arguably better and more relatable content and it not a dollar needs to spent on production. Think like Uber did and empower the resources that already exist – and let’s sit back and enjoy the show.

James Towers is head of agency at Kwickie Australia and founding partner at 16K Agency

Video killed the radio star but do you think it will crush other content formats in the near future? Come chat with me on: Twitter & Instagram @jtowers1983 or introduce yourself on Kwickie @James Towers. Ideally we’ll have a video chat – it’s the next big thing, duh!


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