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Leveraging User-Generated Videos to Drive Growth and Revenue

Fact checked by Vahe Arabian
Vahe Arabian

Founder and Editor in Chief of State of Digital Publishing. My vision is to provide digital publishing and media professionals a platform to collaborate and promote their efforts, my passion is to uncover talent and… Read more

Edited by Andrew Kemp
Andrew Kemp

Andrew joined the State of Digital Publishing team in 2021, bringing with him more than a decade and a half of editorial experience in B2B publishing. His career has spanned the technology, natural resources, financ…Read more

Leveraging User-Generated Videos to Drive Growth and Revenue

Preeya Naul is an experienced online video executive. She spent five years at ITN Productions, charged with heading up the digital news operation, overseeing the...Read more

Preeya Naul, EVP Americas & Newsflare Studios, Newsflare

Audiences of all ages have shifted away from traditional media sources and are allocating more of their newsgathering and entertainment time to social media. Experimenting with user-generated video (UGV) is essential across digital channels in order to engage younger audiences where they already spend time online.

Snapchat’s community is growing at an astonishing rate of 18% per year. Around 332 million people across the globe now spend an average of 30 minutes scrolling their Snapchat feed every day. Half of all Facebook user time is spent watching video, with Instagram Reels attracting huge audiences and ad spend thanks to its raw video creative.

TikTok’s explosive growth has been hard to ignore, with the app having been downloaded more than 3.5 billion times worldwide (PDF download). However, YouTube remains the premier destination for streaming video content, with almost 2.6 billion people using it at least once a month. New features such as YouTube Shorts and Live have seen it grow at a rate of 4.9%, with viewers expected to reach 210 million in the US alone this year.

Ping Audiences’ Content Radars

As content consumption continues to diversify across platforms, publishers grapple with the perpetual challenges of how to attract eyeballs and increase attention spans. They’re also having to keep pace with the growing power of the creator economy, and its endless ability to churn out content that’s ever-more immersive and engaging.

The news feed, or timeline, is becoming the quickest and most successful way for publishers to reach their audiences and put their content on the radar.

Many are having significant success. The likes of CNN, Daily Mail, The Economist, BILD, Olé, South China Morning Post, Le Monde, UpSocl, Dagbladet, NY Post, In the Know and Hearst have all built social strategies that are proving to be a significant revenue driver. They’re attracting eyeballs, capturing audience attention, piquing their interest, beating the scroll, boosting engagement and attracting ad spend.

What do their strategies all have in common? 

User-generated video (UGV).

UGV Sets the Agenda

UGV helps publishers build an ecosystem of content that’s responsive to the linear nature of audience journeys across social media platforms.

They can break news and major events with first-on-the-scene footage, use long-form formats and episodic content to tell immersive stories and push through content that kills time and entertains, making them impossible to ignore. 

To demonstrate just how successful UGV can be, let’s take a look at these examples from two of social publisher Newsflare Studios’ Snapchat channels, “Whoa! That was Wild!” and “Right in the Feels!”

Kids Up To No Good

This 1.41-minute video collection of children getting up to all kinds of mischief attracted 2.87 million views, 26 unique snaps per user and more than $47,000 in revenue.

Cargo Ship Drama

This 1.44-minute-long collection of dramatic moments attracted 677,000 views, 14.62 unique snaps per user and $10,835 in revenue.

Definitely Unexpected

At 1.36-minutes long, this collection of surprising clips was viewed 2.18 million times, generated 12.39 unique snaps per user and almost $27,000 in revenue

Top Tips for UGV Impact

Be Present and Creative

Publishers must meet audiences where they live first and foremost, and remember these platforms are all about the visual. It’s about offering creative new ways to capture attention and keep them engaged — especially those younger audiences who are rarely without a phone in their hands, and constantly scrolling.

The key is to build curated, thematic video collections that deliver diversified experiences. Collections that not only keep audience attention, pique their interest and beat the scroll, but also boost engagement and keep them binge-watching on one stream for longer. 

From viral videos capturing cute kids and funny animals, to heart-warming reunions, pop culture, beauty and home entertainment. Newsflare’s research proves that leading with UGV increases engagement by up to 27% and boosts conversions by 15%.

For example, “Whoa! That Was Wild!” creates dramatic moments to suit its male skewed demographic on Snapchat. Content including planes, cars and boats all perform really well. Newsflare’s editors provide their own script to support the content.

Hook Your Viewers

Publishers need to grab the viewers’ attention quickly with a compelling hook in the first few seconds to keep them watching. 

The sheer volume of UGV means that there is always something new to surprise and delight — be it the latest adorable pet video, celebrity tweet or “break the internet” moment of the day. 

Remember, the first 60 seconds of your video must be the most impactful. Test catchy titles, use music and get creative with thumbnails — especially on Snapchat. Collect and review data to understand not only which videos generate spikes in views, engagement and revenue but also break down the DNA of videos that grab attention so that you can replicate that success.

Going back to the “kids up to no good” example — with this video, viewers can see the whole story unfold, engaging them for longer.

What the kids say is unusual, they’re acknowledging that they’re doing something naughty and admitting it on camera. There’s the moment of suspense, then shock and then the inevitable hiding from Mom. The kids are narrating their story directly to us, which is highly engaging.

Know Your Audience

The vast quantity and variety of UGV, coupled with the constant availability of new video, offers the opportunity for publishers to explore their creativity, experiment with different formats, engage new followers and work out what resonates best with audiences on each platform.

Combine this with your audience insight analytics and you have the golden ingredients to target your video creatives for specific audiences, resulting in deeper engagement on your channels.

The “cargo ship drama” video achieves such high engagement because it provides a curated compilation of dramatic moments that resonate best for a male-skewed audience. 

Remember it’s all about the storytelling. Videos should have a clear beginning, middle and end, combined with a script, as this is proven to drive both retention, shares and recommendations, especially on Facebook. 

UGV allows Newsflare Studios to curate content that maximizes its appeal, sets the agenda, reaches new audiences and retains attention. This, in turn, attracts ad spend by providing viewers with what they are craving at any given moment in time — content that’s hyper-relevant to their lives and loves. 

UGV provides publishers with lightning-fast access to breaking news and viral stories from around the world. You can replicate the success of Newsflare Studios and lead with UGV. Find out more.

Disclaimer: The views, opinions and ideas expressed in this post belong to the author/s and do not necessarily reflect those held by State of Digital Publishing.

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