Updated: Nov 30
Allow users to drive content
When you allow your users to drive the content, you will find a 28% increase in engagement (1). With sales and engagement kick-starting this way, your brand could find itself at the top of the ladder fairly soon, bringing in more and more users and clients than you'd have ever imagined - by just giving your community a voice.
Although user generated content (UGC) is powerful on its own, what makes it so, is its untouchability. It's raw, truth penetrating case studies are placed directly in front of the faces of people who need to see it and will greatly impact their decision to purchase. A before and after video of weight loss, or a truthful review of how a particular service has positively impacted them, has the power to drive a company purely because it is unedited, real and honest.
Letting the community speak
There is, undoubtedly, a demand for unedited content. However, by removing the 'come and buy our amazing service' and switching it with user-generated reviews, people can see not only that the brand values its community but eradicates the idea of a brand at all. In a way, the big people at the top, sat at their desks in massive corporate offices, become non-existent, and the brand itself becomes a community of people telling other people how much it works, like some enormous group chat.
We recently worked with a wonderful intermittent fasting app called Fastic. They asked their community to share their expectation vs the reality of fasting via a thread on Stitcht. In the space of 4 days they received 78 video replies from their community and it was rather humbling to see how open and honest their users were.
Fastic then took a single video from the thread and turned it into an ad on social media to help promote the wider benefits of intermittent fasting across social media and the advert was the highest performing ad they'd ever run. It halved their customer acquisition cost and drastically reduced their cost per install. You can see the full thread and all replies here https://app.stitcht.io/reel/MXqeq1Ie3fjrQI8Z03Yx
The point being, that people are getting fatigue from glossy or even influencer based advertising material across social media. They can see straight through it and the lack of authenticity. It seems obvious that real people sharing their experiences with your product or service is going to be more effective and resonate better with consumers - just reflect on the things you do before you book a holiday, buy a product or go to a restaurant - yet why aren't more brands seeking it out?
In the same way, young people crave something real online, something they can hold onto, and something that doesn't sell itself as real but has been touched up, edited, and waist-sinched within an inch of its life. With over 8% of Instagram accounts being fake, several studies have found the link between exposure to social media and negative body image issues (2). Research has shown that spending more time on applications such as Facebook is associated with higher levels of body dissatisfaction, drive for thinness, internalization of the thin-ideal, body surveillance, self-objectification, and dieting among female high-school and undergraduate students students' (3).
Social media encourages the very behaviours that are harming our teens, both physically and mentally. Bombarding consumers with glossy and influencer led marketing material reinforces this and is generating ad fatigue.
By allowing the brand's community to speak for them, it will enable reality to be reinstated. It allows for real experiences, human connectivity, skin, and real bodies to be exposed to the teens who think everybody has a flat stomach and perfect complexions.
The bottom line
The power of untouched UGC is monumentous. Of course, it can help brands sell their service, but it can also singlehandedly solve the social media crisis and its impact on our young people.
(1) Tint, Future of marketing, 'Content is King, but UGC is Better' (23/ 09/ 2021)
(2) Clementine, '5 ways social media can trigger an eating disorder', (13/03/2020)
(3) Tiggemann M, Slater A: NetGirls: The Internet, Facebook, and body image concern in adolescent girls. Int. J. Eat. Disord. 2013, 46:630-633 http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/eat.22141,
Tiggemann M, Miller J: The Internet and adolescent girls’ weight satisfaction and drive for thinness. Sex Roles. 2010, 63:79-90 http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11199-010-9789-z.,
Vandenbosch L, Eggermont S: Understanding sexual objectification: A comprehensive approach toward media exposure and girls’ internalization of beauty ideals, selfobjectification, and body surveillance. J. Commun. 2012, 62:869-887 http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1460-2466.2012.01667.x.,
Cohen R, Blaszczynski A: Comparative effects of Facebook and conventional media on body image dissatisfaction. J. Eat. Disord. 2015 http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s40337-015-0061-3 (in press),
Fardouly J, Diedrichs PC, Vartanian LR, Halliwell E: The mediating role of appearance comparisons in the relationship between media usage and self-objectification in young women. Psychol. Women Q. 2015 http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/ 0361684315581841 (in press),
Fardouly J, Vartanian LR: Negative comparisons about one’s appearance mediate the relationship between Facebook usage and body image concerns. Body Image. 2015, 12:82-88 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bodyim.201410.004,
Mabe AG, Forney KJ, Keel PK: Do you ‘‘like’’ my photo?. Facebook use maintains eating disorder risk. Int. J. Eat. Disord. 2014, 47:516-523 http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/eat.22254.