The balance of power in the marketing industry has been steadily shifting away from traditional “Mad Men” style firms for years now. This trend has been largely catalyzed by the democratizing power of social media and Internet marketing. There are a number of reasons why social media and Internet marketing have become the drivers in the industry, but perhaps the most significant reason is the fact that user-generated content (UGC) has quickly become the most popular and effective way for marketers to generate popular content.
UGC is the new status quo
User-generated content has the unique benefit of having significantly less expensive than other marketing strategies, thanks in large part to the fact that the users themselves are creating the content (as opposed to an expensive professional creative team). Not only is this content affordable, but there is an abundance of it to choose from. In fact, about 80% of all online content is user-generated, meaning it is created by average Internet users instead of professional firms. In addition, about 61% of companies curate UGC for their social media channels, effectively making the vast majority of content on the Internet user generated.
The uprising of mobile
The proliferation of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets has also led to the growth in user-generated content. Today, everyone with a smartphone in their hands – which itself is a number growing significantly worldwide every year – has a camera and microphone with them at all times, which they can then use to create UGC. Mobile usage has grown to more than 93% worldwide, and total mobile traffic has increased by about 81% since 2013. With so many people possessing both the ability to create content along with the ability to view it, more photos, videos, links, and reviews are being created organically than ever before.
Social video dominates the digital scene
Of all the types of UGC available to marketing campaigns, video is by far the most effective. Social video is shared about 12 times more than both links and text put together, thanks in large part to YouTube, which itself is the 2nd largest search engine in the world (behind Google). Thanks to increasing device capabilities and faster Internet connections, the trend of video’s dominance is set to continue for at least the next few years, with industry experts estimating that about 74% of Internet traffic will be video by 2017.
For marketers, however, the story of video extends far beyond just the fact that video is so prevalent on the Internet. Branded user-generated content provides significantly more value than every other type of video content, with UGC receiving more than 10 times the views than simply branded content. Not only that, but social videos that are branded by a company earn about 400% more shares throughout the various social media platforms than traditional branded videos.
All of these statistics point to the fact that user-generated content, particularly video content, will increasingly dominate marketing efforts among the most successful companies.