In a media age that relies on UGC to sell services or products, companies have tried to catch up. The only problem with this constant game of cat and mouse is its effect on a brand's believability. In an attempt to keep up with the trend, not all companies release UGC that is real, and this causes a problem.
Many employ actors to speak in adverts, or target influencers to do the marketing for them. They post on their instagrams or film on TikTok, being paid with free products or straight up cash in return for a bigger following and more publicity.
What these companies lack is the insight that user generated content sells because it is genuine. As soon as it is not, you have an advertisement campaign that is hollow and deceives their consumers. Who's going to buy from a brand that isn't truthful? Very few.
This is where Dove's campaign have optimised rebranding. The Dove campaign for Real Beauty came about in 2004, after sales began to dwindle the year before. One of the main changes they made was on their website, now conspicously signposting that 'every image you see... features women cast from real life. A real life version of beauty.' In reward, Dove gained a 2.3 percent market share in the category belonging to the hand and body lotions.
What we can learn from it
What can every company learn from Dove? Well, that real faces cause real results; employing actors to to sell the product doesn't. Take these airbrushed, professional pictures of two woman, for example...
Now, put it next to some of the UGV we have gathered for our clients...
Which is more evocative of real life, real women, and real people? The latter. We instantly believe these women simply because they look like us. And that is what truly sells: relatability. If a brand is not relatable, they cannot be fully trustworthy, and trust is integral in all consumers for all companies.
The bottom line is that you should avoid fake UGC if you want your consumers to believe in your brand and your brand's message. Look to collecting real stories from real people in order to get your campaign heard by the public. Remember, if you are not being truthful, no one is interested. At the end of the day, the age where airbrushed content is demanded is being taken over by reality. So, how to make your brand heard? Fit in with the crowd, just how it's always been.
Morel, Lindsey, "The Effectiveness of the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty in Terms of Society and the Brand" (2009) https://surface.syr.edu/honors_capstone/480
Gaby Del Valle, “Real people — not paid actors”: why companies love “authentic” advertising', (2018) https://www.vox.com/the-goods/2018/10/18/17995804/bumble-spotify-dove-real-people-in-advertisements