User-Generated Content: Keeping It Short And Sweet

Photo of a little girl and her mother making a selfie during a breakfast

Technology has enabled unprecedented content creation, and consumers are spending at least two hours per day consuming it all on social media.

As marketers, how do you keep up with demand?

Here, Sammy Major from TRIBE (pictured below) shares with B&T how your own customers are the next wave of engaging storytellers.

Sammy Lewis headshot

To share is human

People enjoy sharing. Sharing ideas, sharing experiences and sharing stories. 

It’s not just that we enjoy sharing, it’s human nature. It’s in our DNA. 

About 70,000 years ago Homo Sapiens began to do very special things which ultimately led to the extinction of all other human species on the planet. 

We gossiped. We told stories. 

It’s our ability to transmit information about things that do not exist at all, that set us apart from all other species on Earth and allowed us to move to the very top of the food chain.

The evolution of ‘sharing’

What’s changed between then and now are the vehicles through which word-of-mouth messages travel. Technology has enabled unprecedented content creation.

In the 1990s, sharing stories and images took place in the thin, transparent sleeves of photo albums. We took photos of places and things we loved and recommended them to others. 

The rise of the Internet – and later, social media – catapulted watercooler conversations to digital spaces where they could be created and shared in a public fashion. 

Today, these stories are increasingly taking the form of rich, short form, multimedia experiences that are created by technology-empowered consumers. 

The maturation of social media and mobile has heralded in the propagation of content types and a resounding improvement in the quality of User-Generated Content (UGC). 

Everyday-people walk around with phones in their pockets that have tools to rival creative studios, enabling them to create high-quality UGC with minimal effort. These digital natives and stewards of their own personal brands are generating and sharing content more than ever before. 

UGC has grown in scale, but not in length

Crowdtap released some telling stats about how people create and share content online:

  • 80 per cent of all online content is consumer-generated 
  • 50 per cent of people create content at least once daily 
  • 23 per cent create even more frequently — 2 to 5 times per day.

But with more people actively engaging across multiple digital channels every day, today’s media landscape is both a blessing and a curse for marketers.

On the one hand, marketers can now reach their audience practically anywhere. 

However, they also need more content to accommodate this increasing demand. 

Due to the prolific rise of smartphones and a mobile-first mentality, people are spending an average of 2 hrs and 22 minutes a day on social media.  And this time isn’t spent viewing lengthy pieces of content. 

While UGC has increased exponentially in scale, a majority of the content consumers create is short-and-sweet.

So if you’re a marketer, how do you keep up with the variety and volume of content now required to feed consumers’ appetite for more content?

The answer may not lie entirely within our existing creative solutions. Our creative industry is set up for mass media – high quality, low volume production assets but marketers today need both. 

  • High quality, low volume for mass marketing
  • Lower quality, high volume for digital and social. 

The fastest-growing creative solution on the planet

Ironically, the brand’s own customers may be the answer. 

Your customers have the TECH – armed with a 12 mega-pixel, 4K, dual lens camera on the smartphones in their pocket.

And they have the TALENT:

They’ve been engaging with Facebook since 2005, a billion of them have now graduated from the University of Instagram, they’ve contributed to Snapchat’s 10 billion video views per day

These are the same people who are spending 2 hrs and 22 minutes per day on social media platforms, with 73 per cent of them posting content at least once per day. They’re creating the short form UGC that marketers so desperately need.

Platforms like TRIBE empower brands to tap into the creativity of their customers to build a personalised branded content library. By developing a clear brief of what you want, you can have talented Creators submit on-brand content in a variety of styles and formats.

The power of short-form UGC

The best part? These are actual brand fans, sharing authentic stories of their experience with your brand. 

Not only can customers churn out a volume and variety of high-quality content at scale, speed and a fraction of the cost, but they’re also the ones appearing in the pics and clips. And real people convert much better than models.

Unilever discovered many years ago that 40 per cent of women could not identify themselves in their ads. So they started to feature real people in their advertising and found those ads were 25 per cent more effective.

It makes sense. People are on social platforms to be social… and to see pics of their friends. If an ad looks like them, they’re a lot more likely to stop, than on a brand-generated ad.

It’s no surprise then that User-Generated Content has been found to perform on average 6.9x better on Facebook than Brand-Generated Content. 

Sharing stories today

The era of short-form UGC is here, and it’s helping brands connect with audiences through genuine story-telling.

It’s real, raw, authentic and effective because, as we know, sharing stories is in our DNA.


Sammy Major is the AU sales director at TRIBE, who are transforming the way brands can connect with leading influential content creators to create powerful 1:1 marketing campaigns. Sammy joined TRIBE in 2018 following time at HuffPost Australia and REA Group.


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