Following efforts in the content marketing and native advertising space, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) continued with the October 21 Town Hall focused on best practices for user-generated content (UGC). Brands, publishers and agencies gathered at the IAB Ad Lab to present UGC case studies, offer tips on successful UGC strategies and discuss legal concerns involved.
Susan Borst, Director of Industry Initiatives, IAB, opened the Town Hall by welcoming members and guests before highlighting the benefits of UGC available to all players in the digital ecosystem. Borst defined the terms of the debate and outlined what qualifies as UGC sources noting that UGC can be either paid or organic.
User-Generated Content Best Practices
Eryn Ivey, Account Director/NE, Izea, and Michael Sadicario, Chief Sales Officer, Storyful spoke about how user-generated content works, what the benefits are, and where the industry is headed. Sadicario and Ivey offered five tips for brands and publishers exploring UGC strategy:
- Analyze the content ecosystem - from sites of interest and user relationships desired to metrics and questions of attribution, the process involves homework.
- Celebrate fans (with contests, repurposing content) and explore different types of compensation.
- Identify other sites where users engage with your brand and “trend” there.
- Set internal goals (KPIs) and promote user engagement.
- Learn how to engineer content - leveraging UGC in real time is key, as is knowing when to sit out the content storm.
Justin Garrity, President, Postano/TigerLogic, offered 10 tips on executing user-generated content campaigns. Garrity highlighted lessons learned in UGC including how to set ground rules, ideas to leverage influencer content and best practices on everything from hashtags (they can’t work alone!) to selfies (they need props!).
On the brand safety best practices front, Tom O’Brien, National Advertising Director, Disqus, reviewed some well-known “hashtag horror stories” that can occur with UGC and highlighted how brands use commenting platforms such as Disqus to leverage their “ability to mitigate and pre-moderate” UGC discussion by setting the terms. O’Brien cited a 2013 Adobe study that showed a rise in consumer commenting and highlighted brands that are using the Disqus commenting platform successfully such as Dove with the “Real Beauty” campaign. He also noted that it is the publisher or brand site that sets the level of moderation based on their needs.
Insights from UGC Case Studies
There are many executions of UGC campaigns from crowd-sourced content, influencer campaigns/sponsored social, user reviews and comments, UGC for events and intelligence and so much more. IAB members and special guests highlighted case studies, including some legal considerations for their campaigns.
New IPSOS Research & Why Hershey’s is Sweet on Authentic UGC
Anna Lingeris, Sr. Manager, Brand Public Relations & Consumer Engagement, The Hershey Co., presented the first case study. Lingeris described her company’s approach when looking to leverage user-generated content in promoting Hershey’s Spreads. After a great deal of pre-launch discovery, Hershey “primed the pump” by planting seeds in search engines and establishing parameters of the conversation. Lingeris explained how Hershey leveraged UGC generated by the campaign with Crowdtap to inform future marketing strategies in a technique named later as a best practice.
Anna Kassoway, CMO, Crowdtap, offered the audience results of the 2014 Ipsos MediaCT study
sponsored by Crowdtap and SMAC that demonstrated what user-generated content means to millennials. As one would imagine, UGC is an essential part of daily life for this consumer base. The study showed that millennials are spending over 5 hours per day with user-generated content. Millennials considered UGC 50 percent more trustworthy than other media and 35 percent more memorable than other media.
A Lens into Earned Media With Canon and Klout
Monica Patterson, Supervisor of Internet Marketing, Canon, presented the next case study with Jon Dick, Sr. Director of Marketing, Klout. From the Project Imagination short film series with Ron Howard to the Pixma Pro City Senses events, Canon has found user-generated content a natural fit for its products. In fact, Canon saw a huge spike in engagement during the City Sense events of 2013 and 2014, with its Pixma Pro line being the beneficiary.
Publisher TimeOut New York Crowd Sources Instagram Fans for Content
Mike Kelly, Digital Marketing Director, Time Out North America, presented a case study on taking user-generated online content and using it in a print medium - the magazine’s cover. Time Out New York ran an Instagram contest asking for user photos from restaurants the magazine nominated for its annual food and drink awards. Instagram users were more than happy to oblige, with over 1,000 entries along with a 40 percent increase in Instagram engagement over six months as a result of the contest. Retweets to 31 million followers highlighted the success of the foray into UGC.
How Industry Reviews Helped the Travel Industry Take Flight
David Elkins, Director of Sales, TripAdvisor, presented a case study for a company whose content is exclusively user-generated. Elkins related the findings of a Cornell University study showing why travel brand owners are paying as much attention as consumers. Higher review scores allowed hotel owners to charge 11 percent more than their lower-rated competition without lowering occupancy rates. He then showed how travel brands are using TripAdvisor reviews on their own sites and even in their own advertising.
Wrapping up the session as it relates to UGC legal considerations, Borst stressed that it is always best to consult your legal team with any questions prior to engaging any UGC campaign. There are many factors that need to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. The audience stated a strong desire to elaborate on the topic of “legal considerations” in future IAB initiatives.
About the Author
Susan Borst is the Director, Industry Initiatives at the IAB focusing on Social Media, B2B, Games, Content Marketing and Native Advertising.
She can be reached on Twitter @susanborst
Reporting by Eric Schaal, IAB Editorial