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The volume of content being produced in our world today is, for lack of a better term, overwhelming. And much of that content is visual, as users share their experiences through images on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, WhatsApp, and Snapchat. In fact, on those networks alone, more than 22,000 images are now uploaded per second.

As consumers attempt to sort through and make sense of this endless stream of visual content, brands are often left struggling to find their way into the conversation. The revolution of visual user-generated content (UGC), which we refer to as “earned content,” has had four distinct, yet powerful impacts on brands and their marketing teams:

Brands aren’t just what they say they are anymore. Consumers control the conversation and brands can either be a part of it or watch from the sidelines.

Consumers have become exceptionally good at telling brand stories visually. Armed with more powerful smartphone cameras, loyal consumers are doing a spectacular job of showcasing their favorite brands as part of their lifestyles. The travel industry is a perfect example of this concept, with individuals capturing the personalized global travel experiences they are having and sharing them with their digital communities.

The purchase journey has elongated substantially. Today, consumers engage with 11.4 pieces of content, on average, prior to making a purchase; and 70% of consumers rely on three or more channels when conducting product research.

Expectations for brand marketing and experiences are much higher than ever before. Consumers crave authenticity in all facets of their lives and specifically want marketing to demonstrate an accurate depiction of how a product or brand can provide utility to people like them. They don’t have time for generic experiences.

Of course, you understand that earned content is massively important in the marketing ecosystem, however, it doesn’t make the task of collecting, curating, permissioning, and activating all of that content any easier. Most marketers struggle with the pace at which they need to create relevant, engaging content and with the growing need for personalization in marketing messaging. In fact, according to the Content Marketing Institute, the top challenge for B2C content marketers is “producing engaging content,” while unsurprisingly the top priority is “creating more engaging content.”

Here’s the good news: There is already a wealth of engaging visual UGC, or earned content, being produced without any brand influence or effort. Many of these images represent exactly how products/brands serve consumers in their day-to-day lives, and do so in a more authentic way than traditional brand-produced creative.

Imagine what you could do with all of that earned content.

We’ve put together a comprehensive strategy guide for marketing leaders, entitled, “Unleashing Earned Content for Modern Marketing Success.” In it, you will learn how to activate your loyal consumers to generate more impactful experiences and brand relationships.

Click here to download your copy.

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