User Generated Videos: what are they and why they are so powerful for storytelling

In this post you will discover what user generated videos are and why they are so powerful for storytelling!

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Content Marketing User Generated Videos: what are they and why they are so powerful for storytelling

User Generated Content- What is it?

Offering a definition of this type of content is very simple; stimulating its production is much more difficult…but we will share some strategies and suggestions to help!

As the term indicates, this is original content, related to a brand, product or service, that is made (more or less) spontaneously by the users themselves, who share it on social networks or other channels. These “users” can be occasional customers, they can be very loyal customers who play a similar role to that of spokespersons and “ambassadors,” they can be creators who operate somewhere between supporter and influencer, or they can even be company employees (a very important point, to which we will return).

There are many types of content that can be easily user generated: images, text posts, tweets, reviews, blog posts, videos.
In this post, we’ll focus on the topic of User Generated Videos. 

We will start by investigating the numbers and the reasons behind their effectiveness. We will look at some tips and best practices for stimulating their production. And, finally, we will focus on how to reuse them for your own benefit, reworking them into highly effective storytelling



User Generated Videos – how effective are they and why!

Let’s start right away with some data (Source:

  • Social media marketing campaigns that contain User Generated Content record a 50% higher engagement rate than campaigns that do not, on average.
  • User Generated Content produces a 29% higher conversion rate than other types of content.
  • 79% of people believe that User Generated Content has a strong impact on their purchasing decisions. 

All of this data is very clear. But let’s go even further by trying to isolate the main reasons for why they are so effective.

  • The first key word to keep in mind is “authenticity.”
    A piece of content generated spontaneously by a person, such as a User Generated Video, is seen as “disinterested.” Therefore, it tends to produce a sense of trust in the viewer. In short, it tends to be much more persuasive than content produced by a brand…precisely because, paradoxically, its primary goal is not persuasion. To put it another way: it is the modern, digital version of the old “word of mouth,” which–we know–has always worked.
  • Related to this is the second keyword: community.
    User Generated Content has positive effects on a brand’s identity and reputation. First and foremost, it strengthens the sense of community of the inner circle, the one composed of loyal customers (but, even before that, of employees and stakeholders of all kinds: as promised, we will come back to this in closing). But that’s not all: through User Generated Content this circle widens, because every single person who shares the content helps intercept a different audience, one that is often not so easy to reach. This dynamic is always rewarded by the algorithms that govern the dynamics of social networks.
  • And here we come to the third keyword: cost-benefit. The cost of producing User Generated Videos (and User Generated Content more generally) is almost zero for the company. So are the investments in terms of time. That’s because it is the users who take care of everything, from creation to publication. Even in the case of reuse within their own campaigns, the costs of this type of content are very limited. They are comparable, for example, to the costs incurred to engage a series of influencers or to create a campaign with “professional” testimonials. This is, above all, if you take advantage of templates or automation systems (another point to which we will return later). In short: low costs and no wasted time in exchange for a very high potential return.

So: authenticity, community strengthening and expansion, savings. A very positive spiral of benefits. The real difficulty, as we have already anticipated, is to trigger this spiral, to produce the first sparks.



How to trigger the positive spiral of User Generated Videos

Let’s say it clearly: There is no miracle recipe for getting your followers to start producing User Generated Videos. And, even more so, you cannot be certain that the content they create will go viral. 

However, there are some concrete tips and basic guidelines to follow, and they can be very valuable. Here they are:

  1. Analyze sentiment and pay attention to trends related to your customers
    People produce content for a wide variety of reasons. But, for sure, they produce it spontaneously when they feel a concrete and urgent interest. In short, it’s when something meets their tastes, their desires. To stimulate the creation of User Generated Videos, therefore, it’s important to have a deep awareness of the target audience of your company or brand. And that’s not all: you also need to have your finger on the pulse of the sentiment of your customers (but also of the more general sentiment). To be sensitive to emerging trends in a timely manner, and then riding them as best you can.
    But how? With careful, surgical data collection and analysis.
  2. Empathy and storytelling first
    It’s not easy to create a video to directly solicit your friends to buy something, whether it’s products or services. This is much easier, however, when someone is inspired to create a video: to build a narrative around one’s experience with a brand and what it offers. Because the person feels part of that community, because he or she shares its values, because they want to become (more or less directly) a spokesperson for it. This is where you have to start when it comes to stimulating the creation of User Generated Videos. Create empathy, complicity, a sense of recognition. And don’t confuse the recipients of your calls to action with sales agents.
  3. Be clear and explicit
    The first way to get something done is to ask for it. In the clearest, most transparent, direct way. But, simultaneously, without being intrusive or arrogant. This also applies to User Generated Videos. The easiest and most unobtrusive way to do this? Provide examples. Relaunch the videos that the first users (or your own employees) started to produce. And push others to join in. Once this mechanism is triggered, everything will flow much more naturally, with potential for growing (and hopefully for going viral).
  4. Giving something back
    Some User Generated Videos arise in a truly spontaneous and unpredictable way. But, in many cases, it’s good practice to stimulate their creation by promising something in return. You don’t need huge “rewards.” You could create a contest, for example. This can bring forth the most unique and creative ideas. Also, don’t underestimate the value of someone’s personal video being shared from the pages of their favorite brand (this is a typical mechanism of stories on Instagram).
  5. (Re)start with your employees
    We have already pointed out that the creation of User Generated Content is a matter of “circles” to be widened and multiplied as much as possible. The first of these circles, the narrowest one, can be very valuable: that of the company’s own employees. In this case, we’re talking about content produced “within” the company. Of course, these are much more immediate to stimulate and control. The benefits of this, however, are twofold: on the one hand, it gives value to the people in your company, putting them on center stage; on the other hand, it forms the very first “critical mass,” the first spark that can trigger a much larger and more impactful production of user-generated content.
    Caution: this content must remain authentic, “artisanal,” immediate. They should not be confused with videos that have other tones and goals, such as company videos.
  6. Repurposing and reusing User Generated Videos
    Being able to trigger User Generated Videos is a great achievement. But it’s still not enough. To make the most of the power of this content, you need to repurpose it on your company’s channels and to do so in the most effective way, together. It’s not just a matter of simple sharing. In fact, you can absorb this content into a video (or a series of videos) managed and re-edited by the company itself, to build more professional storytelling, but one that retains that same freshness and effectiveness.
    First and foremost, of course, you must always ask for permission and report the credits very clearly. This is a key point legally, but also to avoid turning these occasions into dangerous reputation boomerangs.

Take care, then, not to lose one of the greatest advantages of User Generated Videos that we highlighted above: the excellent ratio of benefits to costs (in addition, clearly, to production time). How to do this? By taking advantage of automation systems. One example? Babelee’s Video Platform, which offers Self Service UI and Video Automation.

And let’s close with a virtuous circle. We have already mentioned the possible role of employees in the production of User Generated Videos. This same content can be used not only “outside” the company, but also for internal communications, recruitment, or in on-boarding strategies. In short, it’s about learning to put people at the center, in ever new ways.

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