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Will UGC Be the Norm in a PostCOVID World?

6 MINUTE READ | June 26, 2020

Will UGC Be the Norm in a PostCOVID World?

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Arjun Green

Arjun Green has written this article. More details coming soon.

We’re on the precipice of a monumental change in the trajectory of consumer behaviour online and how we buy.  During these lockdown times, social isolation is rife, however digital platforms are a saving grace for people to communicate with the outside world.

75% of people globally say they are spending more time on their smartphone, with huge jumps in digital activity, especially in countries with the strictest lockdowns. 47% of people have spent more time on social media during coronavirus lockdowns, 23% of people spending significantly more time with social media, and 15% saying they plan on continuing to spend longer on social media after lockdowns are eased.

Almost two-thirds of Filipinos have said time spent on social media has increased, compared to the global average of 47%. More than half of residents in Brazil and India are spending more time on social media.

People are interacting with brands completely differently than a few short weeks ago. There have been swift changes in ecommerce market dynamics, with huge opportunities for growth.  Almost half of internet users have said they have been spending more time shopping online in recent weeks.

Companies are continuing to battle the economic impact of lockdowns, as advertising budgets will take months to return to preCOVID levels with brands already looking to experiment with more cost-effective ways to connect with customers.

Fortunately, we’re all using social media more than ever, with consumers flocking to different sharing platforms and creating engaging content to share with friends and family. These are unedited, personal brand experiences reflecting our new normal.

Due to COVID-19, brands are having to shift strategies as user-generated content has a bit of a resurgence as of late. Brands both big and small have utilised content from the masses to speak back to the people: 

  • Sport England launched a campaign with the aim to inspire people to stay active during the lockdown. The advertisement shows people from all different backgrounds throughout the nation using ingenious ways to keep fit at home.

  • Dove launched its “Courage is beautiful” campaign. This ad continues its message about real beauty but focuses on showing faces of healthcare workers marked by the protective gear they’ve been wearing during the coronavirus crisis.

  • PGTips created a campaign showcasing people having a virtual cup of tea with those who may need a bit of extra company during the lockdown.

  • Apple has been at the forefront of using UGC in its commercials, such as the “Shot on an iPhone” campaigns. Its COVID-19 ad was no different, showcasing that creativity goes on even throughout the pandemic and pulls together scenes of people both famous and unknown using the Apple products to continue creating. 

With the financial effect the pandemic has had on businesses, marketing budgets are likely to be one of the first things to be cut. UGC can be a cost effective and often a fairly quick way to create content for advertising. Not only have budgets been decreased, but it is also much more difficult, if not impossible, for brands to film new content. That’s why relying on UGC is an effective way to access new content.

UGC is a great way to build a community and invokes brand loyalty. By building a strong community, this can help consumers want to stick around during hard times. 75% of shoppers say they trust consumer reviews, and 40% said they’ve purchased a product from an influencer because they’ve trusted the product endorsement. By working on UGC content and building a community during COVID-19, users are more likely to stick around after. 

For a number of brands, showing slick and high-cost looking content during a global pandemic is probably not the best idea, as they risk upsetting and alienating a proportion of its audience. Over the course of this worldwide lockdown, we have realised that we’ve broken down corporate facades (and through countless Zoom meetings in our own homes), that we are in fact real people, with real lives. Brands can help facilitate these human connections through the use of user-generated content. 

We now live in a time where subject matter experts are everyday consumers, the very people who are at home, creating and sharing content. In a postCOVID world, these people will be consumers we trust when shopping online. Brand trust is now more important than ever.

The traditional ecommerce model is shifting towards a consumer produced brand advocacy model. 56% of consumers said reviews were the feature they relied upon to make an informed decision before purchasing a product online. According to Nielsen Research, 92% of consumers trust earned media, like UGC, more than any other form of content.

As the economy has seen a decline, businesses are likely to be stricter with how they spend their money. On one side of things, advertising is going to be helpful when it comes to growing the business again. However, on the other hand, spending a large amount of money on producing a big advertising campaign may not be the most efficient use of budget. So brands will need to be using cost effective production strategies, which keeps the UGC-leaning strategy top of mind for brands. 

UGC used in ads can account for more authentic and relatable content, especially across social platforms, however it can also add a lot to organic and email strategy. Displaying UGC on a product page has been shown to improve conversions by up to 64%.

This is an incredibly important time for brands, where consumer behaviours are going through such a monumental change with demands and expectations shifting dramatically. Brands can utilise UGC in their marketing strategy in the near future postCOVID, knowing budgets are tight, social adoption is at an all-time high, and UGC is a great way to encourage engagement with brand loyalty.

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However, one thing brands need to be wary of with UGC is to ensure the content is unique. There is always a risk with UGC ads, especially video ads, which can look similar and struggle to stand out. Utilizing UGC shows a strong opportunity moving forward, only if it suits your brand and message.