Driving Engagement Through Creative UGC Campaigns

By Jonathan Skogmo, Founder and CEO, Jukin Media

It’s not news to anyone in advertising that user-generated content (UGC) can be harnessed to develop effective ad creative. At least it shouldn’t be, considering that research over the past several years from organizations like the IAB, Social Media Week, and Stackla, continues to espouse UGC’s benefits. Some stats from that research include that UGC is 35 percent more memorable and that 79 percent of people say UGC highly impacts their purchasing decisions.

Given the eye-popping data, UGC is not the secret it once was and advertisers have only begun embracing UGC as a storytelling device over the past few years. One thing that’s been easier to miss, however, since research doesn’t always capture it, is just how truly creative brands are getting at integrating UGC in major TV ad campaigns.

Whether it’s working with the amateur talent from a piece of UGC footage, demonstrating how everyday people use your product, or cleverly getting celebrity talent involved in a UGC campaign, brands are coming up with innovative ways to boost both engagement and build trust amongst consumers.

Combining produced content with UGC

Some of the most viewed videos online are real people doing ridiculous stunts. Fanta turned this concept on its head by utilizing UGC of “idiots,” whose sport of choice included everything from snow swimming to wheelbarrow racing, in its “People are Idiots” spot. The ad campaign combines real people’s videos with produced content to draw viewers in an authentic and memorable way. This campaign was not only popular amongst viewers but drew praise for its creativity from the industry.

Fanta’s success speaks to consumers’ quest for authenticity. In fact, 90 percent of consumers say authenticity is important when deciding which brands they support and find UGC almost two and a half times more authentic than brand-created content. Thus, in an era where marketers are inherently untrustworthy, UGC breaks this barrier by providing content that is intrinsically smoke-and-mirror-free.

Consumers raving about your product

Nothing shows the appeal of your product or service like seeing how other customers are loving it. While brands have long used this tactic, TikTok’s recent campaign leverages the authentic moments that can only be captured on the platform, such as the viral Ocean Spray-Fleetwood Mac video. What starts as one video emitting good vibes and cranberry juice turns into a movement with everyone from everyday people to celebrities posting their own version.

This use of UGC helps to create more memorable campaigns. Millennials, in particular, find UGC to be 50 percent more trustworthy. By incorporating a viral video demonstrating your product’s appeal, your ad campaign is sure to stick around in viewers’ minds.

Creating community by featuring a celebrity

Using UGC is a great way to bring a brand’s customers together. This Michelob Ultra campaign with Joe Buck, a celebrated sports announcer, asked fans to get creative while stuck at home with no sports to watch during the pandemic. They posted videos of their at-home sports moments on #ULTRABuckCalls for a chance to have Buck provide play-by-play commentary. Not only did this generate organic content showcasing fans’ originality, but it also helped them to feel part of a larger community while sheltering in place.

Using UGC with other forms of content has enabled brands to create campaigns that strongly resonate with consumers while also making them feel a part of their community. Unlike the polished brand-created content consumers are used to, UGC provides a refreshing alternative that welcomes imperfections.

Last year taught us that connecting in an authentic way is more important than ever. We expect the use of UGC to keep growing as it has become a powerful tool for marketers to continue to innovate and get more eyeballs on their ads.