User-Generated Content

Smart marketers will leverage user-generated content to influence the millennial generation, which makes up a large part of the market. (Courtesy of Crowdtap and Ipsos)

The millennial generation is leading the economy in numbers and purchasing power, making up 27% of the population with an estimated $1.3 trillion in consumer spending.

With such an influence in the market, the millennial group — those born between the 1980s and early 2000s — demands brands’ attention. Marketers can target millennials by creating influential content they’re known to trust most: user-generated content.

At SXSW’s 4th Annual Social Media Advertising Consortium last week, Crowdtap and Ipsos Media CT revealed that millennials trust information found in user-generated content 50% more than information from traditional media sources. They also found it 35% more memorable than other sources, Christie Barakat reports.

User-generated content can include product or brand conversations with friends or family, peer reviews, social media conversations, blogs, bulletin board and forums. The study’s findings imply marketers have an opportunity to leverage and influence user-generated content and empower consumers to tell the brand’s story.

When consumers can contribute something to your brand, it makes them feel more connected to your company, Andy Sernovitz explains in The “Ask Your Fans” Issue.

There are several ways marketers can embrace user-generated content and better target the powerful millennial group. According to Sernovitz, they are:

Ask them to teach you something.

Consumers – especially millennials — love DIY and how-to projects from brands. Sernovitz encourages marketers to take the tutorial concept a step further and ask customers to submit their own projects and product uses.

Ask them to tell their story.

People love to hear about real-world, personal experiences, and brands can’t always provide them. So tap into your fan base instead. Nutella, for example, is asking its fans to share their own stories about the company’s product for the brand’s 50th anniversary in 2014. Through the hashtag #NutellaStories, they’re receiving plenty of funny, interesting and compelling experiences shared by customers.

Ask them to personalize the brand.

Offer your customers the spotlight by encouraging them to share content, and then use that content in marketing materials. U-Haul, for example, uses customer-contributed photos in their new truck designs.

U-Haul Photos for TruckCourtesy of U-Haul

With millennials’ advertising-savvy and media skepticism, it’s important for marketers to deliver messages through trusted sources: other customers. The more trustworthy the source of the message, the more likely it is to have a positive impact.

Smart marketers will leverage user-generated content to influence the millennial generation, a demographic that now makes up a large part of the market.

The Crowdtap and Ipsos study recommends the following best practices for stronger influence among customers:

  • Create conversations over content. Identify what sparks conversations, and then partner with consumers to create more authentic content and drive conversations that influence opinions.
  • Source influence from people who love the brand.People who truly love the brand carry more influence than people with 10,000+ followers who don’t.
  • Think long-term, not short. Marketers must invest in building long-term relationships with lovers of the brand.
  • Invest in relationships with people advocate for the brand, and reward them thoughtfully. Consumers enjoy being recognized for the time they put into creating and submitting content. Marketers can drive more authentic influence by employing a model to recognize these advocates for their assistance.

This article originally appeared in the CyberAlert Blog and can be viewed here.