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Scaling UGC and Navigating the Shifting Agency Model: Tips from Social Native

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During an enlightening conversation at #SMWLA that explored the shifting agency model and scaling content from users, Shadpour reminded brands that the best part about UGC is authenticity.

The digital era has enabled anyone with a smartphone to generate high quality, creative content. While traditional agencies struggle to keep up, leading brands are capitalizing on the power of user-generated content, or UGC, by restructuring to attain high quality and cost-effective content as well as shifting their distribution strategies.

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During #SMWLA, David Shadpour, CEO & Co-Founder of Social Native, highlighted key points to allow a brand to tap into what creative users have to offer.

The Tools to Create Are at Our Fingertips

Shadpour explained that people can be viewed as “micro-agencies” who are creating content all of the time. Polling from the Social Media Week Los Angeles audience, those present agreed that they themselves have thousands of original pictures stored on their phones.

“The smartphone community are trying to preach that phones can now create unbelievable quality content,” he said, referring to the “Shot on iPhone” ads seen on billboards and bus stops.

He commented that the Apple brand is both reminding people of what their phones can do and using that accessibility to produce high quality and authentic content themselves.

UGC is Key to Affordably Creating Content at Scale

More good practice comes from Coca-Cola’s strategy on National Taco Day. According to Shadpour, the beverage company put out a call for taco content on several of their social media platforms on that day. Within two hours, he said, Coca-Cola had 44 unique assets which all met the brand guidelines.

While 44 may or may not sound like a lot, that is plenty of content to choose from in such a limited time. The company was able to pick the assets they loved and use them on different platforms almost immediately.

Shadpour explained, “Imagine having one unique piece of creative on Instagram whereas you have it different on Twitter, and so on.” And none of the various options were a cost to the company.

What Works Best When Partnering with Consumers

Given the large amount of people that have a smartphone (a figure of 2.5 billion according to Shadpour), how does a brand determine who can actually create high quality content?

“You onboard Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat, etc., and you start building profiles on individuals. Luckily, through our partnerships, we have a world of data on the audience, and we’ve learned how to predict who is more talented in creating content than others,” Shadpour said.

But that is only one of many phases. Phase two, which Shadpour said he finds the most interesting, consists of ratings. There are tools which allow for pieces of content to be scored and, with time, build up a reliability that companies can evaluate.

Additionally, there is room for further insight. “We’ve, over time, discovered that different people make great vertical video and different people make great still images, and so on, and so on,” he said.

Finally, Shadpour reminded brands that the best part about UGC is authenticity. “Don’t hire random people to create content for dogs, hire someone who is a dog lover. Don’t hire someone random to create content for kids, hire a mom or a dad. That’s what works,” he said.

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