How to Make Content and Influence People

We’ve recently begun organizing our blog posts around monthly topics: in October, we focused on ROI, while September was all about the power of consumer advocacy. It’s a big world out there, but we’re trying to bring a bit of order to it.

This month, our spotlight is on user-generated content (UGC) and what we’re calling “reality advertising,” which uses earned-media content, like UGC, to power paid-media campaigns: for instance, Facebook ads featuring photos of a brand’s fans happily using its products. (We first wrote about reality advertising back in August. And if you’re not already familiar with the model of paid, owned and earned media, Forrester has a quick overview on its blog.)

We’re excited about reality advertising because it offers the reach and targeting of paid media, but with the authenticity of images showing real people having real brand experiences. And it takes advantage of the slew of brand-related images and videos that consumers are creating every day — or could be, with a little nudge — at a time when marketers are hungry for more and more content to fuel the machine.

Recently, entire companies, like Percolate and Curalate, have sprung up to help organizations generate, optimize and measure the flood of content — particularly visual content — needed to consistently populate their social channels. We believe that user-generated content should be an important part of that mix. And because House Party campaigns regularly generate hundreds of videos and thousands of photos of consumers enjoying products in the fun, relaxed setting of a party, we can work with brands to encourage and take advantage of compelling user-creations.

Of course, many brands are already making innovative use of UGC. Burberry’s “Art of the Trench” campaign, for instance, highlights real consumers showing off its coats, while companies like Rent the Runway and Lululemon devote prominent portions of their sites to user-submitted product photos. And Doritos famously gives its fans access to advertising’s biggest stage each year with its “Crash the Super Bowl” campaign.

As social media continues to push marketers to utilize more and better content, we’re confident that stock photos and other slick visuals will cede significant ground to imagery that’s both user-focused and user-created.

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