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How to capitalize on the growing value of user-generated content

A recent article in Ad Age illustrates the growing value of user-generated content and the lasting value of authentic voices.

In “Publishers Sell Sponsored Content for Instagram, Snapchat“, Michael Sebastian reports on content-marketing initiatives at three magazines: Wired, InStyle and Teen Vogue. The Wired and Teen Vogue campaigns both rely on user-generated content to promote specific brands. As Sebastian notes:

Wired magazine has tapped a male-female duo famous on Instagram for their alluring photography to anchor an ad campaign for apparel and accessories brand Victorinox. The ads are appearing on Instagram, in Wired and on Wired‘s website.

The duo, Bethany Olson and Cory Staudacher, have developed a substantial following on Instagram, where they have published photographs of their trips together. Smartly, Wired and Victorinox are capitalizing on their following to bring a marketing message to a connected audience.

Olson and Staudacher gave away high-quality photography to an audience ready and willing to share what it likes. The audience they built confirmed the appeal of their work and offered substantial value to Wired and its advertiser. Now, they are bringing the Victorinox message to a blended audience across multiple platforms.

This would not have happened without great photography – the user-generated content part – but it won’t be successful if the campaign compromises what Olson and Staudacher represent. Aligning authentic voices with established brands has always had its share of risks, but the power of shared content can quickly become a liability if the voices appear to be compromised or inappropriate.

So far, the partnership with Victorinox appears to be working. The couple, known for chronicling the Pacific Northwest, took a paid trip to Switzerland, where Victorinox is based. There, they added to their collection of beautiful locations while also promoting a range of products.

The Teen Vogue campaign “worked with shoemaker Keds on an Instagram contest that challenged its audience to share pictures of their outfits.” In this instance, the photography may not be great and the voices are dispersed, but the authenticity of teens talking to other teens remains strong.

If there’s one more lesson to be learned here, it is the current power of media partnerships. Brands like Victorinox and Keds are looking for ways to create content marketing campaigns that resonate with target audiences. Publishers like Wired and Teen Vogue are leveraging their experience to help make those campaigns work.

At least some of the value provided by traditional publishers may be at risk as brands develop their own content marketing skill sets. In the meantime, the partnerships provide opportunities to engage audiences across boundaries and platforms.

Brian O'Leary

About Brian O'Leary

Founder and principal of Magellan Media Consulting, Brian O’Leary helps enterprises with media and publishing components capitalize on the power of content. A veteran of more than 30 years in the publishing industry and a prolific content producer himself, Brian leverages the breadth and depth of his experience to deliver innovative content solutions.

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