The Future of User-Generated Content Is Owned

This AdAge article covers how major multi-billion dollar companies such as Starbucks, GoPro and Apple use user-generated content to their marketing advantage.

User-generated content, or UGC, is content that is created (scripted or unscripted) by the consumer rather than the business itself. These companies understand how to make their UGC, or earned media, produce revenue by converting it to owned media. In result, they have evolved their core business into major media company powerhouses. Let’s give these companies a closer look:

Starbucks’ recent “White Cup” campaign promoted thier reusable cups by asking fans to doodle on them. In return, Starbuck would pay the best doodlers with $300 Starbucks gift cards. In the end, Starbucks got more customers in the door, sold more reusable white cups and obtained UGC rights to the doodles.

GoPro is founded upon UGC. They equip and enable consumers to create the best of the best videos with the hardware, funding and platforms needed. GoPro has their own army of original content creators for their company.

With media, Apple is one of the elite. But when it comes to UGC, Apple takes a different approach. Rather than collecting UGC through #hashtag campaigns from their huge customer base, Apple quietly searches the Internet for the best UGC, then contacts those content creators to buy rights to their work. The result? More than 10,000 billboard installations around the world with the “Shot on iPhone” campaign. This has allowed Apple to tightly control its UGC distribution and turn the world into its gallery.

Campaigns with both UGC and the metadata behind it are key if you want to measure, monetize, and create long-term engagement with customers. An added bonus with UGC ownership includes removing any potential legal risks associated with republishing UGC in future campaigns. With companies like Starbucks, GoPro and Apple, we know that the future of UGC is owned rather than earned.

Sierra Dawn

Article adapted from AdAge. Read the article here.

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