Some real reasons behind user generated contents


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A few days ago, I had a chat with a friend, who stated that he had applied to Jack Daniels, to be a promoter of its brand on Instagram. He stated that Jack Daniel were trying to grow their social media presence hence, an Instagram user generated content campaign. As I probed him further, he said he is expected to be paid something descent but that above all his desire was to help the brand grow her social media presence on Instagram. This got me thinking about some of the reasons behind user generated contents, coming to an understanding that not all are motivated by a material benefits or reward.

Thomas Hobbes, the famous English political philosopher, opined that humans are materialistic and are solely motivated by self-centred desires. The focus here is to move away from the supposed material benefits (or self-centred desires) and explore the emotional triggers or non-reward reasons behind user generated contents.

It would be important to look into the meaning of UGC (user generated contents) before delving into its emotional or non-reward related triggers. User generated content is a trending concept in the field of marketing and is viewed as any form of media or data that is conceived and put forward by users of a website. The BBC, tags user generated contents as ‘citizen journalism’ or participatory media,’ which entails a variety of contents produced by the users.

User generated contents come in different forms like question and answer forums (Quora and Reddit), review platforms (Yelp, Trustpilot, TripAdvisor), digital videos (YouTube, Vimeo, Vine), images (Instagram, Pinterest), social networking (Twitter, Facebook), blogs, Wikipedia, pod-casting and a host of other mediums.

It is important to state that not all user generated contents are driven by a reward or material benefits from a brand. The aim is to look at the non-material related reasons why users leave contents. There are so many examples where companies have ran successful user generated campaigns. One of such good example was when mobile phone case manufacturer Belkin, partnered with Lego, to have the Lego studs on the back of the cases. Users were encouraged to customise their Belkin Lego case and share it on instagram with #LEGOxBelkin.

I searched on Instagram with that hashtag and came across an array of beautifully crafted cases. There was no reward behind this campaign but users still participated in their impressive numbers. So many users are generating contents in the form of reviews on platforms like Yelp, writing contributors’ blogs on company’s website and answering questions on Reddit or Quora. Aside rewards or material benefits, we are looking at the other driving factors that trigger users to give off their time, to produce valuable contents.

Reasons for user generated contents:

1) Willingness to help: Most users that genuinely leave content without expecting a reward, do this with a simple reason of helping a person learn a skill or a potential customer make an informed decision. A good example is in question and answer forum like Quora, where people get incredible advice in starting a business or learning how to code.

2) Improve their communication skills: User generated contents could come in form of text, video or audio. Customers generate contents on behalf of a business with intent to improve their communication skills. An example could be a user improving their writing skills by producing a contributory blog post or running an individual blog about a brand.

3) Be part of a big project: Target ran a UGC campaign that was titled: “acceptance letter,” which gathered the best videos from high school students opening their college acceptance letter. This was put together into a Target commercial. People desire to be involved in projects bigger than themselves and seize these moments to create a lifetime experience.

4) To get a second opinion: Indecision is something that confronts today’s buyer, due to a wide array of competing products. Warby Parker launched a campaign titled: “Home try-on,” which delivered five eye glasses to potential customers to try on for five days. The UGC campaign required people to take a picture with each eye glasses and share them on social media for friends to vote for the best fit. This helped potential customers seek opinion of friends and family by making a more rounded choice.

5) To help them put the past or current pain to rest: User generated contents also provide a fun way to deal with past pains or present predicaments like T-mobile’s breakup letter campaign, that encourage users to write a breakup letter to their current carrier, also stating that they are leaving to join T-mobile. About 80, 000 letters were posted on social media.

6) To reignite a dying dream: Independent lens carried out a user generated content campaign for the première of the film “Don’t stop believing,” as people were encouraged to sing to the classic song “Everyman’s journey” and share the video on Instagram and Vine. This attracted a lot of contributors who possibly were given a shot on their singing and maybe video editing dreams. The best entries were shared on the entertaining social hub. Also, John Lewis launched a UGC campaign, were aspiring musicians were encouraged to record themselves signing and upload these clips to YouTube. The winner would be involved in being part in an airing of John Lewis Christmas day special. UGC helps users reignite or rejuvenate a dying dream.

7) To tell a story: People engage in user generated contents to tell a story of an experience they’ve had with a brand. UGC participants are great storytellers which led the fashion brand Fred Perry, to launch a campaign that encouraged its website users to upload a story or video of their experience with the brand. Storytellers find it very hard to keep stories to themselves hence they see UGC as a way of sharing their experiences.

8) To showcase their creativity: The Belikin and Lego IPhone case user generated campaign, gave an opportunity for people to explore their artistic and creative abilities. As a look on Instagram with # LEGOxBelkin, presents over 451 outstanding pictures. People felt good as they tapped into their creative abilities.

User generated content marketing strategy, is gaining more attention in today’s business landscape. People are going social and are having a plethora of reasons for generating contents. Not all contents are inspired by a potential reward. Understanding that these contents generators are real people with real feelings is critical to leverage on UGC.

Dateme Tamuno
Dateme Tamuno (Tubotamuno) is currently working as part of the SEO and PPC delivery team for UK based digital agency, Cariad Marketing. He has also completed a book on user-generated content marketing.


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