Key Stats and Best Practices on Millennials and User-Generated Content



This article from Chute’s CEO, Ranvir Gujral, previews his #SMWLA talk on brand new data around UGC. After months of researching, surveying, interviewing and gathering data, Ranvir will share his team’s findings with the #SMWLA audience.


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Authentic media, earned media, user-generated content (UGC), word of mouth – marketers have many names for the pieces of content created by consumers recommending their products and services.

Anecdotally, we’ve all been told how important this content is for marketing – especially in the social age. However, just how effective is this media? How do the people who create content most want to be engaged with by brands? What are the biggest hurdles when it comes to using it in marketing?

At Chute, it’s vital we understand what works and doesn’t for user-generated content, so we can relay those findings to our customers. That’s why we surveyed more than a hundred millennials along with digital marketers to get their thoughts on all things UGC.

Why did we specifically focus on millennials? First, it’s pretty clear: marketers are obsessed with them – and for good reason. They’re the largest generation alive today, according to Pew. However, that size is also the problem – it causes marketers to create wide generalizations about a group of people who are all at differing life stages.

Plus, if there’s one thing to know about millennials it’s that they hate being generalized – personalization is key for this audience, so thinking of them as one big monolith inhibits brands from really targeting and creating effective content.

That’s why on top of defining this generation as those born between 1981 and 1997, in our study results we also break up millennials based on 3 life stages: the student, the early careerist, and the budding parent.

Just to get it out of the way – if anyone was questioning the importance of user-generated content, it’s time to reevaluate. Overall, 78% of millennials said they would rather see photos of real customers over professional photos created by the brand, and this remains consistent across all 3 groups.

And digital marketers are obviously also seeing the positive effects of UGC – already 78% say they’re using this form of media in their marketing efforts. Why? The top reason is because they understand the need for authentic content for consumers.

Why do brands use UGC?

  • 87% – for authentic content
  • 72% – to engage our audience
  • 57% – Easy and/or inexpensive to source

And the top place they’re utilizing UGC? Organic social media.

Where are you utilizing UGC?

  • 80% – Organic social media posts
  • 47% – Paid social posts
  • 47% – Websites
  • 34% – Email
  • 23% – Live events
  • 17% – Ads
  • 15% – Print media
  • 6% – Retail/eCommerce experiences

However, the biggest concern for these marketers is copyright. Of the marketers not tapping into UGC yet, 57% said copyright was the biggest hurdle. Meanwhile, marketers already using this content also picked copyright as their top concern.

We collaborated with the team at Davis & Gilbert LLP to develop the 5 Stages of UGC Consent as part of our Social Media Rights & User-Generated Content Guide. The top method we advocate for is to request permission by directly commenting or replying to the consumer.

This method is both scalable through tech platforms and actually a powerful form of engagement – we’ve seen results of more than 9x increased brand engagement after implementing this type of rights action.

During my talk at Social Media Week LA, I’ll share more key stats and takeaways from the report along with key examples, all 5 levels of UGC consent, and how UGC preferences vary based on industry.

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