Brands Should Encourage User-Generated Video Content to Spread the Word

Brands Should Encourage User-Generated Video Content to Spread the Word

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Buzztala was a sponsor of the ReelSEO Video Marketing Summit that just happened over the weekend.  Their business is getting a client’s customers to create video reviews, testimonials, or questions in an effort to create user-generated content for a brand in order to drive engagement, traffic, and conversion.  Buzztala’s Jay DeDapper contributed a guest post to us for the event, which discusses the helpful role an app like Vine or Instagram can be when it comes to user-generated content, where your customers become brand advocates.

Vine and Instagram: What’s a Brand to Do?

Now that all the hype surrounding Vine (it’s more popular than Instagram!) and Instagram adding video (it’s killing Vine!) and Keek (it’s crossed 50 million users!) has passed, it’s time to step back and ask what brands and retailers should be doing about this explosion in user created content.

First, recognize that beyond the hoopla is a simple important truth: we are witnessing a historic shift in consumer behavior. In 15 short months tens of millions of us have used social video apps like Vine, Instagram and Keek (or earlier ones like Viddy, Socialcam and Mobli) and in the process become accustomed to thinking about the mobile devices we carry everywhere as video recorders.

We’ve quickly all become massive visual content creators.

Think about it another way: When was the last time you bought a point-and-shoot camera? Or a video camera? The markets for both of those products have collapsed because we don’t need them any longer. That’s what our smartphones do – with the critical added bonus of being connected to the internet and therefore our social networks.

More proof comes from statistics around the way we use mobile phones. We don’t text like we used to. As Nick Bilton wrote in his New York Times Bits Column in late June, “Images sent between cellphones are on the rise as text messages continue to fall.” The volume of basic text messages in the U.S. dropped by 5 percent last year while the volume in multimedia texts (photos and video) rose by 41 percent.

Heck we barely even make phone calls any more. British mobile carrier O2 reports making calls is in fifth place among things we spend time doing on smartphones, well behind surfing the net and using social media.

So social video is big, growing fast and becoming a new behavior. How do brands, retailers and businesses take advantage of this?

Consumer created content has obvious value to business. It’s terrifically authentic, social, potent and free. But it can also be dangerous since anyone with a smartphone can say anything on video and upload it across social networks linking a couple billion people. Brands have no control over how their image or product is described or shown.

Here are 5 things brands can do to tap into this tidal wave of new customer-created content:

1.    Rethink Your Definition of “Quality”

One of the biggest hang ups brands and retailers have about user-created content – especially video – is that it often looks and sounds like crap. While that can still be true it’s much less so than even a year ago. For one thing smartphones and tablets have gotten much better cameras. But more important thanks to all of these social video apps users now have experience in created video and with practice they’ve become much better at it. Quality doesn’t need to mean picture-perfect professional video images – it can mean an authentic message delivered with enough just enough visual panache to impress your customers.

2.    Give Customers Context

Let’s be honest: most clips on Viddy or Keek or Instagram are meaningless drivel, because when most people turn the camera on themselves, even for 15 seconds, they have nothing remotely interesting to say. But ask them a question and give them a time limit (i.e. “Peanut butter, chunky or creamy? Go!”) and watch out. When a brand can provide context to a user creating content that content will be both better and more useful.

3.    Go Beyond Branded Pages

Plenty of brands have jumped on Instagram and Vine with their own accounts and clever video clips. But much like early Facebook marketers discovered, you have to engage your fans and customers on social networks, not just push content at them. That’s what advertising is for. If consumers are creating tons of content on their own, getting them to create content that has context for a brand should be mission #1. Pushing out great viral Vines is one thing. Having your customers share their own great viral Vines about your brand is quite another.

4. Contests Are Only the Start

There’s tons of data showing that consumers want to hear from other people like them more than the companies trying to sell them something. That helps explain why, as Weber Shandwick reported in January, consumers trust user reviews three times more than professional reviews. Video make consumer reviews and testimonials even more effective because they are more trustworthy (hard to be anonymous on video) and better to share. Think about how a hotel chain could leverage customer-created video: People on trips (not just vacation) are already creating tons of short videos on their phones and tablets and posting them to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Why not get them to create some content about the experience they’re having? Once they share it across their social networks the hotel will have an incredibly powerful piece of content that is both authentic and trustworthy.

5.  Trust Your Customers

Your best, most loyal customers are your fans. They love your brand and your products. Let them show it. Video gives them a chance to show how they use your product, how your brand is part of their life, what it means to them. A clothing retailer could create a powerful loyalty and influencer program all in one by having their best customers show off how they wear the clothes, how they incorporate them into their own style. They may not hit all the marketing points of a professional pitch but the authenticity of a real fan and customer will have far more impact.

The point is that your customers are creating visual content in all kinds of places, getting comfortable doing so and in many cases doing it pretty well. And this is only the start. Smart brands and retailers need to put a strategy in place to take full advantage of this behavioral change before train has left the station.


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