User-generated content marketing has been on a growth trajectory within digital marketing in recent years. As more and more brands realize that their core market is more likely to respond to social and digital messaging over more traditional means, more attention is being given to UGC marketing. With the end of 2017 approaching, marketers are planning for 2018 with an eye on the key trends that will continue to be prominent.
Innovations in AI and machine learning will make it easier for brands to identify influencers, recognize images, and source the best UGC that can be used across all marketing channels. The ability to curate personalized user-generated content more efficiently enables companies to display fresh, updated content more often and to provide a more customized experience for consumers.
Continued technological innovations will play a significant role in the user-generated content marketing trends in 2018 and in years to come. Here are three trends that we think will gain (even greater) significance in 2018.
Forbes astutely predicated that influencer marketing would explode in 2017, going so far as to say it is “the most effective form of advertising.” With consumer trust in advertising declining and Millennial spending power growing simultaneously, brands will continue to rely heavily on influencers to create content. Influencer content created by brands is found to be more authentic to younger consumers. Social media will continue to be a strong channel for brands to connect with audiences and building influencer and micro-influencers will be a cornerstone in 2018. Working with influencers also enables brands to keep content fresh, and generate more content that has a shorter lifespan (also known as ephemeral content.) This plays into the “fear of missing out” effect that especially younger users experience, and works well in a mobile-first strategy.
With the amount of earned media that influencer marketing campaigns generate, it will be equally ciritcal for brands to be able to quantify the ROI of your influencer engagement by tracking consumer behaviors that show conversions and generate sales.
AI and Machine Learning
Artificial intelligence and machine learning have become buzzworthy across many industries, and their uses will naturally translate to user-generated content marketing. AI was even named the 2017 “Marketing Word of the Year” by the Association of National Advertisers. While AI-authored content may still be several years away, machine learning and related technologies certainly play a role in UGC marketing.
One use case for AI in the UGC marketing space is in influencer marketing platforms. Image-recognition software gives these platforms the ability to scan through thousands of images quickly and source those that will have the greatest influence. AI software can enhance both content curation and visual ecommerce through shoppable images.
When starting an AI-powered marketing program, looks for ways to measure quantifiable results — like analyzing influencer content for the most-discussed brands and topics, identifying style, and, of course, measuring engagement, traffic, and sales statistics. When it comes to influencers, some element of human judgement is still required, but machine learning capabilities can help narrow the field by a large margin.
Personalization has been an important marketing consideration for some time. It remains an essential element for reaching today’s sophisticated consumers, as studies have shown personalized messages are the expectation today. Brands that integrate personalization can build stronger relationships with their customers and foster loyalty.
Technological innovation is enabling greater levels of personalization than ever before. Companies like Apple are integrating things like facial recognition software that would not have been possible before. Personalization will move beyond email tokens and segmented marketing to provide a hyper personalized experience for today’s consumers. With the ability to collect more and more data from consumers, as well as the availability of UGC marketing platforms built toward optimizing personalization, brands can provide user-generated content marketing that is based on what performs best with certain customers.
Consumers’ social media habits have changed, and digital marketing will continue to shift in response. User-generated content remains a strong tool for marketers and will continue to be an effective tactic for reaching consumers, especially millennials. Evergreen content is being replaced by influencer content that is constantly updated and refreshed. User-generated content marketing is made more efficient through the tools provided by robust platforms. Machine learning and artificial intelligence will provide further ways to personalize content and target consumers. We look forward to seeing how these trends grow and change in 2018.