What Makes You Say “I Want That”? A Look at User-Generated Content

Laura Petrolino (here she is on Twitter) and I have been friends online for five years but never actually spoke face to face (via video conference) until when we were putting together this post!

It’s a miracle we were able to coordinate a time, given our mutual inability to tell what day it is. Case in point from a 2016 Facebook message exchange:

User-generated content examples

How Does Our Experience of the World Compare?

As communications professionals, Laura and I are both interested in user-generated content (UGC) — messages and images created by consumers rather than brands — that help tell a brand’s story. In fact, Laura wrote a post, The Magic of User-Generated Content, for Spin Sucks on the topic back in 2014.

For the #BridgingTheGap Campaign, in which 100 Millennial and 100 Midlife Influencers are coming together to blur boundaries, we each decided to share examples of favorite pieces of UGC, and let you see how the perspectives of millennials and fifty-somethings compare.

We needed some kind of structure, so I chose to use the four categories described in this analysis by Kantar Added Value: discovery, fun, status and wellbeing.

Discovery

Meet my canine friend, Rocky. Rocky has quite an active life on Instagram, and watching him since he was a tiny puppy has been a discovery adventure. What matters for an image like this as UGC is that it clearly shows the brand of bed he is using, but it doesn’t scream “YOU SHOULD BUY THIS PET BED.” It’s more of the kind of thing that would be in the back of my mind if I were in the market for a pet product.

And because I know Rocky, I feel a connection. It’s not the brand saying “you need a Snoozzy bed because your dog will like it.” It’s Rocky’s family saying “here’s a day in Rocky’s life and he’s on Snoozzy because he clearly deserves the best.”
user-generated content examples

Fun

What would you wear to spend a day at the park with your toddler (or, given my generation, perhaps your grandchild)? You would want to be comfortable, prepared for changes in temperature, and look decent enough that it wouldn’t be embarrassing to run into a friend.

This post from MommaInFlipFlops accomplishes all that in its display of a Prana product. (Note: I participated in the same campaign, but her toddler is way cuter than the jar of catnip I held up in my UGC!).

Here’s why this works as UGC for me. The main thing I am drawn to is the relationship between the mom and the toddler, and the beautiful setting. When I scroll through the hashtags, I can see that she’s wearing prAna and can choose to pursue it.

user-generated content examples

Status

Is there anything more affirming that the start of a new married life? Although my niece Olivia had a fantastic photographer at her wedding, this shot is one I grabbed with my iPhone from my perfectly positioned seat as her sisters toasted her and her new groom.

Why is this effective UGC for Hayley Paige? It showcases a bridal gown and two bridesmaids’ gowns in a genuine moment, not an artificial pose. It could appeal to a potential bride OR a mother-of-the bride, all depending on the consumer’s perspective.

user-generated content examplesWellbeing

This is just a simple selfie (and it sort of bleeds over into the bonus category I’ll be adding…) but it’s so much more as UGC goes. The Charity Miles app is used by runners, walkers and cyclists to generate donations to favorite charities.

The app is designed so that the user can add a picture of himself or herself that can then be shared on social media.

Like I said, this isn’t just any wellbeing selfie, it’s Charity Miles founder Gene Gurkoff and running legend Bart Yasso.

From a UGC standpoint, it makes me say, “gosh, if Bart Yasso is staying healthy anhelping a great cause at he same time, maybe I can too.”

user-generated content examples

BONUS: Causes

It wouldn’t be me if I didn’t add a “causes” category. I adore advocating on behalf of causes, and hopefully my UGC shows it.

Team RWB is one of my favorite causes. It’s an organization that supports veterans in various ways.

This image of a Team RWB supporter doing the Old Glory Relay evokes the sense of the journey, the walker’s purpose, and the unifying point of the organization.

It works for me as UGC because it makes me say, “hey! I could do this and help veterans like this guy,” rather than “you should care about this and sign up now.” It’s a subtle but powerful difference.

user-generated content examples

Bridging the Gap

Are Laura and I totally different from each other when it comes to how we view UGC?

The New Jersey American Marketing Association writes:

There are clear differences in how millennials and baby boomers consume and trust branded content. Millennials enjoy images of real people using a product, whereas baby boomers care more about the quality of the product or service. Boomers also enjoy written and video content just as much as images.

Judging by the images I chose, maybe the difference isn’t actually that big after all.

Take a look at Laura’s post and let me know what you think.

It’s something we can discuss the next time Friday rolls around, if we can figure out what day it is.

 

Sustainable Clothing for Your Busy Days: #WhereDoYouprAna

I received two pieces of clothing from prAna for this review. All opinions are my own (although my cat pitched in her thoughts too!). 

Two months out from the end of our time being caregivers, and I am slowly remembering how to savor the sheer freedom to come and go as I please, and to do a few more things that matter to me.

I enjoyed wearing my two new pieces of prAna clothing recently as I went on a small adventure (and also when I checked out a new location for a favorite food cooperative here in town).

Rocking My Message

Recently, I went to see 9 to 5 the Musical at Theatre Tallahassee, after which I had a mission. I had a very special rock to hide! (If you’re unfamiliar with the rock hiding craze, here’s more info.) I needed something pretty enough to fit in at the theatre and comfy enough to stand up to my rock-hiding expedition.

Sustainable ClothingThis particular rock was in honor of the You Matter Marathon (read more about it here). As you can tell, I was holding it upside down in one of the pictures — but I kind of like the reminder that things sometimes just get turned around but the message is still a worthy one. And I doubt the ducks will find the rock BUT maybe they’ll bear witness to the recipient’s joy when they find it!

 

And About the Cat

Sustainable Clothing

New businesses are popping up all over Tallahassee, and I was excited to see that a fave food co-op, New Leaf Market, had opened a new location on our north side. After happy hour with my girlfriends recently, I popped in to check it out! Among all of their natural, organic options, I was impressed by their pet supplies. Bella would be too (she’s in charge, after all!). Don’t you agree I deserve to sit back with a bit of our local (also awesome!) Lucky Goat coffee after she gets into the catnip? This prAna top is perfect for exploring a food co-op then relaxing with some delicious coffee.

 

More about prAna

I have let my clothing game, which was pretty anemic anyway, slide over the past three years when I have been working from home and caregiving. I enjoyed these awesome pieces prAna sent me — they were a perfect blend of fashionable and functional.
prAna focuses on creating sustainable clothing, and says their goal is to create apparel that will get you through your whole day, no matter what that brings. The lavender piece I wore to the theatre and park is the Tilly Top, which is made from organic cotton and recycled polyester blend burnout lightweight jersey knit. I loved the lace insets.
The rose top I wore to New Leaf is the Penelope Pullover, which is made from organic cotton and a polyester blend lightweight jersey knit. I love the fact that it is Fair Trade Certified™, meaning that the factory where it was made meets criteria regarding safe working conditions, equal treatment for women, and more.
Learn more about prAna’s approach here:

 

A Special Discount For You

I am excited to share this discount code with you! Use it when you order something from prAna, and you’ll get 15% off your purchase (the code is good through October 3). Sustainable ClothingTo learn more about prAna, visit their website here. They’re also all over social, including Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!

How about you?

What qualities do you look for in clothing to get you through a typical day, looking good and feeling comfortable? Are sustainability and fair trade practices factors in your choices? For me, prAna gets gold stars for all of that and I encourage you to check it out for yourself (and remember to use your special discount code MHMPK15 to save 15%!).
Sustainable Clothing