The Power of User-Generated Content in Building Lasting Millennial Consumer Relationships

Posted by: Jeff Fromm

When it comes to creating a lasting relationship with your Millennial consumers, being a brand people can trust is imperative to your success. But as we know, it’s easier said than done. While you obviously can’t practice literal trust-falls with customers (lots of legal issues, trust us), you can engage your audience in new ways through user-generated content (UGC).

The benefits of UGC

The benefits of UGC are two-fold. First, it provides authentic marketing without a sales-y undertone because it’s coming directly from your brand advocates. According to a study by OfferPop, nearly all consumers surveyed said that UGC was helpful in the decision-making process. Additionally, 85 percent of the same consumers said they found visual UGC more influential than a brand’s photos or videos. And when it comes to Millennials specifically, UGC is 20 percent more influential and 50 percent more trusted than any other type of media regarding purchases.

Second, it takes some of the pressure off of your in-house content team. Over the past few years, content marketing has boomed and brands across industries are taking part. While it first started as simply a dolled-up marketing message, it has evolved into mandatory participation in the conversations and topics that matter most to consumers. According to BrightEdge, marketers spent more than $135 billion last year on marketing content to achieve this goal. Yet, it’s also been found that 70 percent of marketing content created isn’t being used in a timely or effective manner, per Highspot. Sounds quite time intensive without the equitable payoff, doesn’t it? When used properly, UGC can supplement the content development process in a way that checks all of the right boxes.

Who’s getting it right?

Coca-Cola is a brand that’s a veteran when it comes to UGC. It consistently utilizes UGC in its campaigns, starting back in 2012 with its digital activation and launch of its Happiness Flag, which involved reaching out to teens and asking them to submit short video clips showing what it feels like to drink a Coke. Perhaps the most iconic usage by the brand is its  “Share a Coke” campaign, which created personalized Coke bottles emblazoned with customers’ names or terms of endearment for customers to share and post to social using the hashtag #shareacoke. Quickly, the bottle labels became customizable on the brand’s website.

In these ways, Coca-Cola gives more power and trust to its consumers and allows them to create the content that faces and resonates with the public. By positioning itself like this, it is able to develop not only engaging and authentic content but also loyal brand advocates. It seems to be working, too, as the brand made more than $41 billion in 2016.

For marketers, this means that future brand success will rely on inviting consumers to be co-creators and innovators. Rather than viewing them as just customers, you should view them as partners sharing in on the overall success of the brand. By doing this, you are bound to reap the benefits of brand love and loyalty.

About Jeff Fromm

Although not a Millennial as defined by his age, Jeff Fromm is the Millennial Marketing Guy. Jeff is President of FutureCast, a marketing consultancy that specializes in Millennial trends, and is a contributing writer at...See Jeff's full bio.