The resurgence of user-generated content

Soliciting user-generated content has been an arrow in the content quivers of many marketing and PR teams. Previously, user-generated content had been used mainly as an activation tool to get audiences to engage with a brand on social and/or as a way for brands to fill their own content pipelines when creative resources were low. 

The rise of user-generated content in 2020

With the rise of COVID-19, we’ve seen a resurgence of user-generated content, but the impetus for the ask is much different than it was in pre-pandemic times. Today, we are seeing brands ask users to help create content strictly out of necessity. With social distancing measures in place, content creation —video and photo shoots, interviews and the like – have become nearly impossible to execute. Where you once had whole teams working on a shoot together–photographers, videographers, stylists, on-camera talent—there’s now a void, given the fact that most in the industry are working from home and keeping in-person contact to a bare minimum.

Despite this, businesses still have marketing and PR goals to achieve and the communications machine does not sleep. That means that brands are getting really creative in looking for ways to continue to create content even when teams can’t collaborate face-to-face.

Examples of well-executed user-generated content

Many of the results we’ve seen from this pivot have been very well executed. Take, for example, Ry Pat’s self-shot cover photo for GQ’s June/July cover, or Chloe Sevigny’s cover shoot for New York Magazine’s The Cut, which was done over Zoom. We’ve also seen the innovative use of Zoom in the “Parks and Recreation” reunion special, and who could forget the spectacular performance by the “Hamilton” cast on John Krasinski’s Some Good News.

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Tips for shooting user-generated content

Granted, in those examples there have been entire production teams behind some of those shoots (writers, musicians, directors, photographers, sound technicians, etc.), and the bar on the resulting end product is pretty high in terms of production value. But that doesn’t mean that your organization can’t also tap internal spokespeople and teams to produce user-generated content, especially at such times as this when the premium to keep lines of communication open is more important than ever.

If your brand is looking to keep the content machine going despite the pandemic, user-generated photo and video can be a great option (see our example of a how-to video we shot over zoom). For those marketing and PR teams who need to direct on-camera talent in the best ways to shoot that content, we’ve put together a handy one-pager of tips to help make sure things like lighting, sound and backgrounds are thought through, so the footage you get in return is optimal for use on your digital channels.

Download our tips to shooting our own selfie video and let us know if you have any of your own to share with us, we’d love to hear them.

Paulyn Ocampo

Since joining THP in 2008, Paulyn has helped execute strategic plans for clients like AMF Bowling Centers, Allianz, Tridium, Silgan and The Peterson Companies. A Norfolk native, she earned her undergraduate degree in mass communications, with a concentration in public relations from VCU.

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