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The Modern Marketing Blog covers the latest in marketing strategy, technology, and innovation.

Why user-generated content is a gold mine for reaching Millennials

Musicians, photographers and videographers know the secret to creating viral content for the younger generation. Singer-songwriter Psy released “Gangnam Style,” garnering more than two million views, and the famous “Charlie Bit Me” video amassed more than 700 million views. As creatives make their name known, marketers, too, want their campaigns and messaging to become overnight wonders. The secret sauce for marketers is user-generated content (UGC).

“Marketers know that brands don't live on spreadsheets or inside creative agencies. They live in the hearts and minds of their consumers,” writes Anna Kassoway, CMO at social influence marketing platform Crowdtap. “Many brands are handing the reins over to their consumers and putting them at the center of their marketing infrastructure.”

Since Millennials account for 27 percent of the population and an estimated $1.3 trillion of consumer spending, according to a study by the Hartman Group, marketers are shifting their strategies to ask these younger buyers, who hold the purchasing power, to contribute content.

As digital natives, Millennials spend 30 percent of their time digesting UGC, according to research by Ipsos MediaCT. Most of that time (18 percent) is spent on social media; 6 percent is email, text, G-chat and texting apps; and 6 percent is face-to-face interactions.

Not only do Millennials love to read and hear what their peers are thinking and doing, they enjoy being given the freedom to express their own opinions, share their experiences and connect with others. While marketers want to give customers the experiences their audiences crave, they also want their brand and products to be remembered in a positive light. UGC is powerful in that regard — it’s 50 percent more trustworthy and 35 percent more memorable than other sources of content, according to the Ipsos research.

A handful of brands are capitalizing on the value of UGC and have created campaigns and platforms for users to be an active part of the conversation. Here are several examples:

Revolve Clothing taps into the social media selfie trend

Social media is huge, with more than three in four Internet users being active on social platforms, according to the Pew Research Internet Project. Revolve Clothing jumped on the selfie trend by launching a section of its site for UGC. The #REVOLVEme section calls on customers to take photos of themselves in their favorite outfits and share the photos using the the hashtag #REVOLVEme. Since launching in February, users have submitted more than 10,000 photos via Twitter and Instagram, according to Internet Retailer. These photos raise brand awareness, and ultimately lead to purchases. Nearly seven in 10 Millennials on social media are influenced to complete a purchase because of something their friend posted, eMarketer reports.

Ziploc and GoPro encourage users to show product use via video

Millennials love everything about visual content, from watching or reading it to creating or sharing it. Brands, whether or not they sell a product that is visually appealing, are asking customers to show their peers how they use the product. Ziploc, a household brand with a utilitarian use, created a presence on YouTube with more than 16,000 UGC videos of customers showing how they made an omelet or decorated cupcakes using a Ziploc bag. These Ziploc videos are organic content that doesn’t live under the Ziploc channel, but promote its name and reputation.

Similarly, GoPro boasts that 6,000 YouTube videos with the word “GoPro” are created every day. While GoPro’s business is baked in video production, these videos show the power of consumers promoting the product they use to create a piece of content. GoPro says thanks to consumers for producing content by recognizing the “best of” videos on its branded YouTube channel.

“Brands that meet consumers on their own terms succeed in getting greater reach and engagement,” write Kelli Wisuri and Gopi Kallayil, brand marketing at Google, on Knowledge at Wharton. By asking customers to be co-creators of content, marketers tap into a new way to amplify their presence and brand reputation in an organic manner.

Image via Can Stock Photo

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