The proliferation of digital video technology has made it much easier for consumers to post their own video content related to a brand to a whole host of platforms. But this user-generated content isn't always positive, and some of it is actually extremely negative. As a brand, you may feel that you are in full control of the online conversation surrounding you, but often that's not the case at all. With user-generated content dominating the major video platforms, brands, their agencies, and their marketing teams have to develop strategies to capitalize on it to ensure they maintain, and hopefully even grow, their share-of-voice.
Non-branded Video Content Dominates YouTube & Facebook
Until recently, brands could gain good coverage just by uploading their videos directly to YouTube and embedding those same videos on their owned social networks. But now, the space has gone almost fully native, with each major social platform having rolled out, or in the process of rolling out, its own video options. Companies like Facebook and Twitter are making the YouTube-embed user experience worse within their own ecosystems. Brands are often seeing increased engagement when uploading video natively to these platforms vs. the traditional embedding method, thus making the choice of tactics easy for most marketers.
And that approach is clearly working. In its most recent earnings call, Facebook reported that the number of views on its platform (thanks to autoplay) has grown to 4 billion a day. That’s up from 3 billion in January and 1 billion a day in September of last year, remarkable growth by any accounting. And the success of Facebook video has caused other players like Twitter and YouTube to test their own auto-play videos to match Facebook. Not to mention Vine and Instagram with their 6-second and 15-second native video options, respectively. Or Snapchat, the private and (frequently anonymous) messaging app, continues growing exponentially.
Now let’s add user-generated content video to the mix. How big a deal is it? According to a recent Tubular Labs report, of the top 100 videos on each platform, brand-created videos make up 17% of content on YouTube and less than 1% on Facebook and Vine. On the other hand, user-generated content (UGC), makes up 32% of the top videos on YouTube, 17% on Vine and more than 50% on Facebook. The rest are driven by social influencers with 250K+ followers, particularly on Vine, where 81% of the top videos are from this subset.
Of course, not every brand is going to have a large amount of UGC as this kind of content depends on the vertical. Non-branded content around fast food tends to be high, and not always favorable. Food giant McDonald’s has been pushing positive stories and uplifting content around its “I’m Lovin’ It” brand campaign, but it's a non-branded video regarding McDonald’s that has generated over 2.7 million Facebook views in the last 30 days. The 8-second video is catchy enough, but not necessarily the type of content that McDonald's wants associated with its brand.
How Can Brands Work With User-generated Content?
1) Identify and Learn From Fan Videos
Find ways to identify and quantify UGC for your brand. Do thorough brand searches on Facebook, Twitter and other platforms or leverage an existing listening tool to identify content relating to your brand.
Determine if there are common themes. Not all UGC is bad. Some could actually be positive, and it could also be an additional resource for you or your agencies’ strategy planning and research team. What is the message being conveyed? Is the overall sentiment positive or negative? Is there a common customer service theme that can be addressed?
Good or bad, there is usually something that can be learned from these videos. Keep in mind that some specific videos may have gone viral and the views and reach of the content may overwhelm most of the other fan content. One hundred positive videos viewed 100 times will still be drowned out by that one-million view video disparaging your brand.
2) Determine Possible Collaborative Opportunities
Is there an opportunity to partner with any of these video producers? Is there a story or theme in the consumer's video that you could make into a larger campaign or “hero” social video? Or, if the video was created by someone influential, does the audience overlap with your own, making it a good fit to partner up and have them create additional, and more prescriptive content for your brand?
With video growing by leaps and bounds, and technological barriers continuously falling, the amount of digital content produced will continue to grow. It’s important to recognize that though much of that content will be brand-produced, most will be from a consumer point of view. That video content may be largely uncontrollable, but savvy brands will at least begin the process of identifying, organizing, addressing and potentially finding creative ways to leverage UGC.