UGC campaigns open your company up to more authentic, relatable content.Nearly half (47%) of our North American youth panel, Generation Wattpad, recently told us that they do not feel well-represented in today’s media and advertising. There’s a reason for this; a study by Lloyds Banking Group found that only 19% of people featured in advertisements are from a minority group, a number that falls far short of reality. This is despite most marketers agreeing that diverse images in ads help a brand’s reputation.
Opening up your marketing through a UGC campaign can make numbers better represent the real world and opens your company up to the type of authentic content that Gen Z relates to.
In a world where younger people grew up with corporate stock photos substituting for real people, Gen Z craves realness and representation. A UGC campaign provides a limitless opportunity for diverse faces and narratives since there’s no barrier for real people to take part. Companies who embrace this diversity are likely to connect more with their audience because people are drawn to images that accurately reflect them and their needs.
For 2019 Pride we partnered with T-Mobile to celebrate diversity by launching #UnlimitedPride—a write-a-thon that committed to donate $1 for every story submitted (up to $10,000) to GLSEN to fund their activism work. By inviting our users to contribute their own stories to the history of Pride, we were able to put the power of representation directly in the hands of those looking to be represented. As a result, our platform is brimming with even more stories featuring characters and storylines across the LGBTQ+ spectrum.
Inspire your audience with reality
When Aerie launched their #AerieREAL campaign a few years ago, with the promise not to retouch any of their models, they connected with an audience that craved authentic representation. This declaration inspired a wave of selfies and photos of customers flaunting their Aerie merchandise. That’s why the campaign resonates with audiences and has continued on, to this day.
In 2016, American Eagle reported that Aerie’s 2015 sales were up 20%; in Q4 of 2015, they rose 26%, attributing a major role of the success to the label's body-positive campaign. The campaign has evolved into what their executive team refers to as a “platform,” and was referred to in their 2018 earnings calls.
By opening up marketing to the public it’s much more difficult to neglect diversity in a campaign. The #AerieREAL campaign shows that the more that people see themselves represented, the more likely they are to include themselves in the dialogue. This leads to greater brand exposure and makes people feel good about their bodies, which creates a more favourable general opinion of the company.
Want real representation? Let Gen Z represent themselves
It’s become en vogue for marketers to aim for diversity in their traditional campaigns. But embracing UGC goes a step further to truly showcase what Gen Z really looks like—by letting them represent themselves.
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Originally posted September 28, 2018. Updated July 3, 2019.