It's Time to Evolve User-Generated Content

smartphone on a tripod shooting a photo of a purple flower

Let’s talk about User-Generated Content. If you aren’t well-versed with the term by now, especially after the 2020 pandemic, then we have to ask what life on Mars has been like. User-Generated Content (UGC) is now as much a part of a savvy brand’s content strategy as social media and display advertising. In fact, some brands rely on it.

However, UGC is evolving, which is to be expected as it’s been around for decades. In its early days, it was simply “take it or leave it” content. Whether it was a call to arms or it was discovered through other channels, UGC was fairly raw. An enthusiastic fan or brand ambassador did the filming, sometimes edited it together, and then it was published (with brands using a mixture of searching social channels and blind luck to actually discover it).

Now, when you look at the meteoric rise of TikTok, that kind of content is only increasing in popularity but brands need to channel it effectively.

Enter something we could affectionately describe as UGC 2.0. To say it’s a giant leap forward would be like saying the iPhone was just a step up from a flip phone.

WHAT EXACTLY IS UGC 2.0 AND WHY SHOULD YOU CARE?
The next generation of UGC takes the most important strength of this kind of content, namely authenticity, and skillfully guides it to be more impactful and way more controlled. And it’s all done by remotely directing the users without ever taking away from the genuine reactions and experiences they provide. It can even be blended with traditional production techniques to provide a stunning end result that combines professional footage with powerful UGC stories.

A recent example of this is how Colorado Mesa University tapped select students to participate in filming their own stories for their Making Mavericks series. By laying out a shot list for the participants, and providing real-time feedback, they were able to capture lightning in a bottle. The footage captured by a traditional crew (which obviously wasn’t the very personal content students were capturing at all hours) was then edited together with the student UGC to produce a powerful digital series for both community building and recruitment.

Other successful projects that have used UGC 2.0 (which we like to call User-Directed Content) to this level include compelling social content for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and corporate communications projects that dared to put the camera in the hands of their employees. The results were beyond all expectations.

DIRECTION + AUTHENTICITY = THE FUTURE.
If there’s one takeaway from the UGC evolution (or should that be “revolution”?), it’s that gently directing the genuine footage your fans and ambassadors supply is key. When you step in with a heavy hand, you lose the authenticity.

With a video production tool like the one we have here at Cinebody, you can guide without overpowering. Everything in the software makes it easy for users to feel in control while you set the guard rails, and that includes forced camera settings to ensure consistency across contributors. See for yourself. You just might find that it’s hard to go back to the traditional UGC that reigned for so long.

Cinebody is an IHAF supplier member whose mobile app facilitates the user-directed content described in this post. To learn more, register for next week’s webinar: Meeting the Rising Demand for Video on Falling Budgets.

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