Social media has revolutionized the way people connect. What began as a way to chat online quickly transformed into massive social networks where users share just about anything. The state of social media today is heavily influenced by user-generated content and social currency.
User-generated content is how consumers receive and transmit information about brands. It’s unique because it is voluntary in nature and it enhances the digital experience for BOTH a brand and the consumer. Social networking sites have given users the opportunity to expand their online voice with platform elements like access to posting images, videos, tagging people and checking in to locations.
User-generated content is raw and organic and gives other consumers an unfiltered look into brands and what they offer.
The biggest benefit of user-generated content is that it fuels social currency. Social currency is the information and value a consumer spreads about a brand. The great thing for brands is users provide social currency to them at no cost. Similar to earned media in public relations, user-generated content builds brand awareness and product knowledge without a brand having to pay a cent. It’s social sharing.
One of the most effective means of user-generated content, going live or live streaming, has re-defined what it means to connect in a digital world. When we examine going live on social media platforms, consumers are more inclined to listen and act on the shared messages, since the content is not branded, sponsored, or paid for by the brand itself. Viewers of user-generated content often feel a sense of a shared social identity with the consumer who posted or went live. This can be attributed to the authenticity and reliability of the messaging. User-generated content illuminates the everyday emotions felt by typical brand consumers. That’s why user-generated content and social currency are so effective.
Ordinary brand users are able to develop trusting relationships with other users or potential brand users while informing them about a product. They function as ” brand ambassadors,” engaging in promotional-like marketing tactics at their own discretion.
Fulfilling the need for human interaction is another way user-generated content appeals to consumers. As social beings, we desire interaction and communication at all times, even if you’re an introvert. User-generated content facilitates discussions in which people form connections with both the content and the user.
Social Media Spotlight
Let’s explore a specific social media site and how user-generated content has exploded. Instagram, a social media giant, is a photo-based platform with around a billion active monthly users. It allows users to not only post photos and videos, but they can post live content on their feeds. This is one reason why user-generated content has such a huge impact on social media today. Ultimately, the content offers a variety of perspectives and it exhibits the power of human voice.
“It’s been exciting to see the speed at which social media has changed the way we do marketing. Currently, we tell our clients that social media alone will not be the only way to gain new customers. I would love to be proven wrong in the near future.” — Jennifer Henderson.
What will social media look like in ten years? It’s hard to say, but we can extrapolate from the current trends to make a promising prediction that social media won’t be anything shy of dominant and ingenious. After all, “We don’t have a choice on whether we do social media, the question is how well we do it.” —Erik Qualman
Tanya Lariviere — Agency and Gallery Intern
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