No matter the quality of content that professional organizations churn out, it will never have as big an impact as the content that actual users generate. As the old saying goes, if you can’t beat ’em, license their photos, right?
News organizations, brands, companies and nonprofits have spent many a painstaking hour trying to crack the biggest riddle of them all: what makes content engaging to readers? Those long conference room sessions were wasted, more often than not, because it turns out that they were asking the wrong question. They’re ignoring user-generated content.
“Who makes engaging content?” is a more relevant question. But it turns out that professionals are the wrong people to answer that question as well because, frankly, it’s not them. Users make the rules of the internet, and as the arbiters of virality, they also make the best content: user-generated content (UGC). But as savvy folks are beginning to find out, these users are happy to share.
Who Makes a Splash?
The internet has turned formerly captive audiences into an ocean of critics armed with valuable information. Nobody’s a fool these days, and because standards of quality have been raised so high, the web has even democratized trust.
Readers know when content is professionally written — they can just tell — and guess what? They don’t trust it.
But they do trust themselves. According to Nielsen, 92% of consumers trust online information generated by friends and family. And 84% of millennials — soon to be the largest consumer segment in human history — won’t even consider making a purchase without consulting UGC in some fashion.
In fact, millennials actively consult UGC to inform a wide variety of purchasing decisions: 59% do so for electronics, 54% for cars, 53% for appliances, and 46% for mobile phones, just to name a few.
Even when users are just casually browsing, UGC continues to dominate. For instance, users spend 90% more time on websites with UGC galleries. At the same time, we view user-generated videos 10 times more than branded videos on news sites and YouTube.
In the wake of this growing trend, many content creators feel disempowered. After all, you can’t control what people are going to create, and hence, the narrative. But given the tremendous power that UGC holds, would you even want to?
Partner with Users to Produce Meaningful User-Generated Content
It’s easy to imagine that all consumers on the internet feel either cynical or jaded. Where has their trust for professionals gone? This is far from the case, however. Users are still happy lean on expert advice, trusting it 88% more than branded content..
At the same time, users have a fundamental desire to share experiences with like-minded individuals. The internet has facilitated this to an unprecedented degree. Content creators should see themselves as partners with their audiences, incorporating UGC (with permission) to help better tell the stories that matter.
With the help of photo and video aggregators like Scopio, anyone can easily find and license trending user-generated content. In that way, users can become producers themselves, and storytellers can grow their narratives from the ground up.
Scopio is the industry’s premier search and licensing platform for images and videos on social media. We help companies find and use the photos and videos that matter to their audience, from capturing content to evaluating the analytics on campaigns. Wondering how to find high-performing visuals from social media influencers? Request a demo with the button below. Featured photo by annika.laila/Instagram.