In recent years, UGC has become the holy grail of content marketing. 81% of consumers actively seek out user-generated content (UGC) when browsing a company’s website (see more proof here).
But it’s not quite as simple as all that. We came across a survey conducted by the earned content platform Olapic in AdWeek at the beginning of this year. The brand wanted to find out how different generations — in particular millennials and baby boomers — view UGC. And, surprise, surprise, different generations view UGC differently.
It’s the right time to be talking about it. Gen Y may be entering their years of peak consumption but, despite this, boomers’ spending power still far exceeds their younger counterparts.
Olapic made it into a infographic for your viewing pleasure.
— Mark Fidelman (@markfidelman) February 17, 2017
Infographics are great but what about the stories behind the stats? We talked to some millennials and baby boomers about what they really think.
First off, who are you?
Crazy about photos and Instagram? Think real people appearing in a branded image make it more authentic?
And if any of this makes sense to you…
“YOLO, might as well invite bae for Netflix and chill this weekend” (possibly after a cheeky Nandos if you’re British).
…you can join Kanye.
Think Facebook is the number one social media channel? Don’t get hashtags? Have to be reminded that when someone under 35 says something is “sick” they mean it’s cool?
Nice to meet you, baby boomer.
Although some characteristics can be truer for one generation than another, a lot of us, especially millennials, hate being put in a box.
Yes, I do Instagram a lot and I’m on my phone most of times. But so is my dad! He actually streams more videos than I do, mostly on YouTube, but he loves funny content on Facebook and he sends me links all the time.
Lucy, 29, works in advertising
Whichever group we belong to, our levels of trust towards brands is drastically decreasing with only 25% of millennials and 24% of boomers trusting branded content.
Consumers are hungry for authenticity and UGC is something they resonate with. 47% of millennials and 36% of boomers trust UGC.
I actually do both, talk to my friends who went through similar experiences, but also read many forums. When my grandson was diagnosed with eczema, I spent a lot of time researching best health products. I wouldn’t necessarily say that brands lie, but I think people who tried [their] products, have the best testimonials.
Jo, 62, teacher
Millennials are known as the ‘influencer generation’.
Brands rarely say contentious things, so in my mind it’s not really a question of trust. I prefer recommendations from people who are familiar with the thing they’re recommending. Sometimes that person is a brand.
Tash, 27, product manager
But it seems that they too want less photoshopping and more genuineness, especially in the fashion and beauty industries
I’d rather trust consumers – although they may not always be the most reliable source as brands often partner with influencers, the majority of peer testimonials feel intrinsically more honest and unedited.
Emily, 26, content strategist
As UGC is becoming the most trusted type of content, here’s what you should be taking into consideration when harnessing it for each of these two groups.
Baby boomers like to check few sources before they make up their mind.
‘Depends on the purchase. The bigger or costlier the purchase, the more sources I check.’
Mary, 67, writer
‘Low value may just buy. Higher value will look at as many reviews and info sites as practical’
Dave, 64, managing director
If you want boomers to post about your products, offering some type of contest might get their attention. According to the infographic, 50% of boomers prefer pictures, but they also enjoy videos and written content so invest in a variety, as long as the visuals are focusing on your product or service. You are most likely to catch them on Facebook, their preferred social media channel.
Millennials also check various sources of information before spending their hard-earned pennies.
How many? God knows;) depends on the brand and products.
Tash, 27, product manager
Their favourite content is images and millennials would much rather view pictures on Instagram than Facebook. They are tired of seeing products online that look completely different in ‘real life’ so skip airbrushing. And since this is the most diverse generation, make sure you give them a chance to express their individuality. Apart from appreciation of the brand or product, they share content if it makes them look good.
They are annoyed by excessive and irrelevant adverts and 50% is more likely to buy products based on social content from their peers rather than TV celebrities.
But as with everything, it’s important to keep the balance.
I trust both. Brand content for rational information. Consumer content for product performance.
Nicola, 24, account planner
Whatever your industry, the importance of UGC in the shopper journey will continue to grow, regardless of whether your consumer is 16 or 65 years old.
We all turn to people like us for inspiration and honest opinions, so make sure that each stage of your sales funnel is enhanced with trustworthy content from real people on the right channels.
** If you’re confused, rest assured many people are too…
apparently millennial is a job title now… pic.twitter.com/Y5gwtampUK
— Sophie Gadd (@sophie_gadd) May 23, 2016