The Present and Future of User-Generated Content
What do you get when you cross a music service, a car manufacturer, Estee Lauder, and an online shopping aggregator? No, this isn’t a joke. The answer is a sound marketing strategy that anyone could and should follow involving the consumer in what’s called user-generated content or UGC.
Despite seeming unrelated on the surface, these companies gathered together at this year’s ad:tech convention (November 4-5) at the Javits Center in New York City to discuss the common thread of UGC marketing that links them together. Here’s a little glimpse into their insights, views on this current trend, and what they believe the future holds.
The panel consisted of Steve Bender, the EVP of Strategy and cofounder of GreenLight Media & Marketing, Jon Budd, the Senior Group Manager of New Media at Hyundai Motor America, Salima Popatia, the VP of Global Online Marketing & Merchandising at Estee Lauder, and Sara Spivey, the CMO at Bazaarvoice. Each talented speaker highlighted their career accomplishments through marketing.
Steve created the Grammy Amplifier, showing an instructional video to the ad:tech crowd. In a nutshell, the organization breaks down to four simple steps. First, talented musicians and bands across the country put their music up on Soundcloud. Artists had a limited amount of time to submit a song. Next, music fans got the power as they could sign in through Grammy Amplifier and listen and share the songs on such platforms as Soundcloud, Twitter, and Facebook. The songs that got the most likes and shares moved on to the next step.
Steve and his staff narrowed down the musicians and bands to just 25 based on popular fan vote on social media. Curators, including such huge musicians as Ziggy Marley, The Band Perry, Mark Ronson, and even Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park, have the final pick. The winners get the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work with a Grammy-winning producer and the even rarer chance to make a music video with a beloved director and then open on tour for some of the musicians and bands listed above.
Overall, Steve, who is soon heading to Austin after ad:tech to continue supporting his musicians, mentioned that fans have a big role. “What’s in it for the fan or consumer to even engage to begin with? Is it going to make them laugh? Is it about their friends or family or something that makes them laugh?” He mentions that this emotional connection is the key to get people interested.
Jon Budd with Hyundai Motor America spoke about another music-related marketing tactic called Destination Unknown. Sponsored in part by iHeartRadio, popular rock band Imagine Dragons played a secret show in California that even they didn’t know the location of. To help them find it, mega fans had to use social media and hashtags like #destinationunknown to uncover the mystery letter by letter. Of course, those lucky fans (estimated at about 400) were also able to see the exclusive gig. Those who couldn’t be there got to see it live-streamed in New York City and anyone could listen to it after the fact.
Salima Popatia with Estee Lauder, the fashion brand, began working with Bazaarvoice and Sara Spivey back in 2008. Sara’s company is an active shopping network that lets consumers generate content about shopping trends. It creates ads based on the research that shoppers do; the algorithm follows a shopper’s journey from start (considering the item, reading reviews about it), to finish (actually buying the item). She notes that with Bazaarvoice that product view rates are higher, click-through-rates are higher, and that the interest from consumers has risen between 30-60%.
That’s because Bazaarvoice, like both examples mentioned above, lets the consumer do a lot of the talking. Thanks to the company’s involvement, the Estee Lauder brand allows shoppers to forge “an emotional connection” with the products according to Sara. She pushes for more press attention to products and for better awareness of what she calls “micromoments,” or those “series of moments that lead to a purchasing decision.” Sara even mentioned that if consumers were confused about what certain products did or the ingredients on the packaging that the company would elaborate to further improve consumer relations.
Overall, the speakers were hopeful about the future of consumer engagement through marketing and advertising. “Cream rises to the top,” Steve said. However, he was critical of citizen journalism, noting that it needs more “editorial cynicism” and more integrity but that the good influencers will eventually become more known. Jon believed that this editorial content could head in a good direction. Sara called for better technology to further push user-generated content that could make everybody “a star.” Salima believes that by reducing the frequency of content in exchange for content that is relevant and personalized (even on mobile devices) reviews will move to the forefront.
Nicole M is a professional writer who is passionate about entertainment, food, marketing, and relationship writing. In her spare time, she enjoys hanging out with her turtle and plugging in and old school video game console.