Brand generated content is being ignored, yet brands are spending more and more money on creating it every year. According to the Beckon report, there has been a 300% increase in investment in branded content in the past two years, whilst only 5% of this content is being engaged with. With spend increasing and engagement decreasing, why are brands still using these traditional methods to communicate with their customers?
Historically, brands and agencies created content that they believed would be engaging and would strike a chord with their target audience. They then served this content across all of their desired media outlets; television, print, radio etc. Consumers of this era had no choice but to pay attention to this content as it disrupted whatever they were watching, reading or listening to.
Consider how people consume content now. Everything is personalized, almost uninterrupted and based on peer-to-peer communication through social media. The modern consumer does not want to see professional and photoshopped imagery when making purchasing decisions, they want to see real experiences that they can relate to and relive.
Facebook’s algorithm change earlier this year is really driving this home for brands now, and has opened the market even further to the exploration of user-generated content. Mark Zuckerberg has stated that there will be “less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media”, which means that the 5% engagement in brand generated content figure from 2017 is going to fall even further this year.
Though the shift towards authentic content is getting lots of traction right now, it is nothing new or groundbreaking, and platforms like TripAdvisor have led the charge in this regard for many years. TripAdvisor has been successful because 92% of consumers (Nielson) inherently trust recommendations from other people, even if it is people whom they don’t know. As a result of this, we, as consumers, no longer trust anything we read on a hotel’s website - we seek out what others have said about a property for validation before making our booking.
Above: Six Senses showcasing content from their customers in their website.
The rise in publicly accessible content on platforms like Instagram and Twitter means that this behaviour has now crept into every other industry; from purchasing a new car to choosing a university to attend or opening a new bank account. The modern consumer is searching on social for an authentic view of whatever product or service they require, and the volume of content which exists on these platforms means that they no longer need to trust you as a brand, in exactly the same way which we all stopped trusting hotel websites ten years ago.
The good news is that there is an ocean of authentic and trustworthy co
ntent at your disposal to counteract this. Customers are creating more content than ever, and it is the quality of this content that has changed the most in recent years. The combination of better camera technology in phones and a general improvement in the understanding of photography amongst the public has resulted in almost professional quality content being shared by users every day.
Above: The click-through rate on UGC based ads is 4 times higher than stock / professional content.
Brand generated content is very expensive to produce at scale, and only 5% of this content is being engaged with. Your customers are actively creating content for you and the real beauty of this is that it not only performs better, as it is authentic, but that it is free and is being created at scale. Why try to force a small content marketing team to compete with thousands of customers who are eager to promote your brand?!
If any of this resonates with you and you are interested in tapping into the content that your customers are creating, please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org and we can arrange a session to run through it.