Consumers trust user-generated content (UGC) more than they trust content created by brands. In TINT’s ‘State of User-Generated Content 2021’ report, 93 percent of marketers agree with that statement, underlining the importance of incorporating more UGC, including influencer marketing, across channels as social commerce continues to grow.
TINT’s latest research identifies five UGC trends to help marketers become more effective at leveraging UGC. The first involves an updated definition of influencer marketing, one that moves the term from being reserved only for those who have massive audiences, like celebrities, to those who have smaller audiences, but more authentic influence, namely micro-influencers. TINT found that 75 percent of marketers are currently working with influencers who have less than 1,000 followers, those with up to 10,000 followers and those with up to 25,000 followers.
Brands are also turning to employee generated content (EGC) as a means to communicate brand messages. In fact, TINT’s last study found that brand messages were reshared up to 24 times more when distributed by employees versus the brand. For example, Chipotle highlights EGC on its careers page to amplify recruiting efforts and build company culture. Creating internal influencers such as employees helps brands position their team as experts within their space and attract top talent, according to TINT.
Though UGC increases engagement, 43 percent of marketers in TINT’s report said it’s a struggle to find engaging UGC. Brands can overcome this by directly telling customers, fans and employees what kind of content to create using a custom branded hashtag. For example, they may encourage them to share their unboxing experience on Instagram Stories or mention their purchase on Twitter.
Another way marketers can generate more UGC is by running campaigns and giveaways that reward their audience for creating, sharing and tagging brands in content featuring their products.
As in-person events ground to a halt, 76 percent of respondents have said they’re considering virtual events in 2021, while 70 percent are considering hybrid events. Attendees don’t plan on lowering their expectations for these events. To satisfy attendees’ demands, companies will rely on video and live streaming to maximize digital engagement, as well as methods to transform that engagement into brand content.
With the rise of virtual events and social commerce, marketing will become more community-oriented, requiring marketers to deliver hyper-personalized experiences. UGC will be key to creating balanced content that followers can relate to. Sixty percent of marketers feel that authenticity and quality of content are equally important, and 75 percent believe that UGC makes content more authentic.
Next, TINT found that marketers are experiencing a lack of time when it comes to creating engaging content. While 41 percent of respondents listed engagement as the most important key performance indicator (KPIs) to measure for the second consecutive year, 52 percent said time as a hindrance to social and visual content production. To address this, marketers can use UGC and EGC, as well as artificial intelligence-driven UGC discovery, to facilitate content production, save resources and build engagement.
Following engagement, leads and return on investment (ROI) tied for marketers’ next most important KPIs. One area that can positively influence a brand’s revenue is creating relationships with their audience on social. Doing so requires creating interactive content, which takes time and money—two areas where marketers are seeing cuts. In 2020, 52 percent of respondents indicated a reduction in their marketing budget, and 41 percent said they feel headcount is a challenge when it comes to content production. Marketers will need to lean on UGC and EGC to get around these obstacles.
TINT’s findings also highlight the importance of an omnichannel strategy as brands expect to increase activity both on LinkedIn (27 percent), Instagram (19 percent) and TikTok (12 percent) during 2021. As each channel requires a different approach, marketers should empower their social media managers and give them a seat at the table to avoid producing tone-deaf content. Working closely with social media managers will enable companies to find and repost content from customers, fans and employees to engage their audience.
TINT’s findings are based on an online survey among 102 marketers conducted in November 2020, and research with 184 event marketers conducted in August 2020.
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