user generated video

Here’s how to create branded user generated videos on autopilot

Table of Contents

Smartphones revolutionized our economy on so many levels by enabling everyone to become a content creator. If you go to Instagram and check the popularity of #contentcreator, you will see there are around 10.5 million posts published under the hashtag.

Ten and a half million. That’s more than the population of Honduras.

Today’s mobile devices are capable of shooting 4K videos, they are packed with amazing video editing features, and users can always download additional apps for more robust editing options. The element of play combined with a personal creative direction opens up infinite possibilities. That’s why making videos is so easy and entertaining.

user creating video

Now, this is where it gets really interesting, especially for marketing managers. Research shows that consumers are 2.4x more likely to trust user generated content as opposed to branded content you publish.

But what if you can do both with user generated videos?

What if you could use branded user generated video in your marketing, and do it fast?

Seems confusing, I know. But let’s slowly unpack this.

User generated videos bridge the gap between customers and brands

We all know that video content is captivating as a format. But when it comes from people your customers identify with, then it’s one incredible marketing tool. It is perceived as relatable, credible, and trustworthy. And I believe there’s no need to remind you that the word of mouth is still the most powerful factor that impacts buyer decisions, is there?

User generated videos are effective for many reasons but if I had to pick two most important ones, I’d say that 1) they bring customers and brands closer and 2) they reinforce the idea of belonging to a community.

If your customers feel the need to record a video to speak up and show appreciation for your product or services, then kudos to you – you’re definitely doing something right. More precisely, you are succeeding at transforming transactional relationships into warm, human ones. Despite the fact that we live in a capitalist society, nobody wants to be treated like a walking wallet. We crave genuine connections.  

However, my goal here is not to bore you with another “why is user generated video content beneficial for your business” type of post. I want to equip you with practical tips you can implement immediately after reading. This is why I’ll share real-life examples and extract lessons for you to help you get started.

Automation + user generated videos = branded user generated videos

To help you understand how to make the most of user generated videos, I’ll give you an example of an actual use case from one Plainly’s client. This client runs an online work marketplace, or a freelancing platform if you will. It’s similar to Upwork but for another industry. They have 1000s of people on their platform on the talent side and are experiencing significant user growth on the client side.

Users on the talent side are creating videos about themselves, their achievements, their biggest clients, successful projects, etc. Those videos are often recorded with a basic smartphone and they might not be of great quality (not necessarily due to the power of the phone’s camera, but maybe lighting or other factors). You don’t have to be a genius to see that, due to the varying quality of these videos, you can’t really use them in their raw state for marketing purposes.

Luckily, there’s a very easy workaround. 

This client decided to create a video template (it looked amazing by the way), then they came up with persuasive copy, and then Plainly automatically inserted user generated videos into the compilation. The video ended up looking polished and nicely designed.

So you had two key elements (i.e. authentic user generated videos and eye-catching look and feel) that managed to create an engaging viewing experience.

Here’s an example of how would this video look:

The best thing about this workflow is that it’s automatic. The client is able to create a new video the moment their user creates a video. They just set it once and that’s it.

Even the biggest brands miss out on user generated videos

Around 70% of all your sensory receptors are in your eyes which makes it clear that humans are predominantly visual beings. Even when you are reading, your brain is actively transforming the words you consume into images.

However, if we have to make a clear cut about the type of visual content that’s most engaging, video would take the lead. Images are also great, but moving pictures introduce enough dynamics to keep us intrigued about what going to happen next. If there are people involved in the video, even better. Humans seek to connect and they intuitively look for non-verbal cues to understand and experience the story better. But even the most renowned brands miss out on leveraging user generated content.

Take the Adidas Running app for example. Whenever you finish a run, the app will ask you if you want to create a social media image with your stats from the run. It’s still user generated content, it’s a good low-hanging fruit to boost visibility online, but imagine if they’d figure out how to encourage user generated videos here.

People are anyhow sharing sweaty reels on Instagram and low-key bragging about their #healthylifestlye. Why wouldn’t Adidas want to support them as a brand, and become an ally on their health journey? Beats me.

It’s a puzzle to me because it’s super easy. For instance, they could integrate Plainly API into the Adidas Running App, create a template or two, and then encourage users to create social media videos with the data from the run or even include some photos or videos from the run itself.

(If a marketing manager from Adidas is reading this, hit me up, I have the perfect solution for you).

Learn from the legends: Examples of user generated videos

I’ve been watching some brilliant brands incorporate UGV into their marketing activities in an amazing way. To get you inspired, I’ve picked three completely different brands, reverse-engineered their success, and extracted lessons on the best ways you can encourage user generated videos.

GoPro relies on user generated videos to sell an adventurous lifestyle 

In my humble opinion, GoPro is the absolute beast when it comes to creating an engaged online community. When Nick Woodman launched GoPro, he started small by hustling in surf shops, ski shops, and bike shops, connecting with like-minded people. GoPro’s customers are a part of the global community of adventure enthusiasts, and they strongly identify with GoPro’s brand values.

Here’s what you can learn from GoPro:

  • Offer incentives to your customers to encourage them to create videos


As GoPro became an established brand, its marketing budget grew significantly. For example, they offer an equal share of $1 million to all users whose videos end up in GoPro’s “Year in review” video.

Most of us can only dream about this type of budget, but you can still organize contests, prizes, or non-material incentives to engage your customers and motivate them to push the record button.

  • Create a snowball effect by partnering up with the right role models


People are more likely to create user generated videos if they see a celebrity or an influencer they admire do it. Think about establishing meaningful partnerships that will promote your campaign and encourage people to participate in a contest or challenge.

  • Invest in ongoing challenges and remove friction from the customer journey


Strong customer relationships require constant attention. Just like plants, if you don’t water them regularly – they will die. Have ongoing challenges for your customers and make them an integral part of your “business as usual” mode. It’s also important to make sharing of the videos easy and frictionless. Social media is a good tool for that.

You may love Rihanna, or you may dislike her, but she undeniably created a splash in the beauty industry with her brand Fenty Beauty. This brand is all about celebrating natural beauty, sassiness, curves, and diversity. Namely, Rihanna’s brand is one of the first to recognize the need for makeup shades suitable for all skin colors. Of course, she had the advantage of having a fan army thanks to her career in music, but there are still great lessons you can learn here.

  • Think about what might work within your specific industry


For the beauty industry, Instagram and TikTok are the most valuable channels. This means it makes the most sense to launch organic social media campaigns driven by giveaways or chances to be featured on the profile of the brand. That’s exactly what Rihanna is doing by making the most of her star fandom.

  • Give people something relatable that will make them want to participate (without ever being asked to)


Fenty Beauty is all about inclusion, freedom, and fun. It celebrates women and has a strong narrative that feels relatable. Since we live in the day and age where we share everything we do on social media, women love showing their makeup skills. As I said, everyone’s a content creator, so why wouldn’t they share their own makeup tutorial and tag their beloved brand? Not to mention honest reviews. It’s precious for brand awareness.

fenty skin tiktok

Apple’s #ShotoniPhone campaign leverages user generated videos to promote its camera power

In 2014, Apple launched a #ShotoniPhone campaign and invited Instagram and Twitter users to share their photos and videos made with iPhones. Submissions would be reviewed and then featured on Apple’s official online channels, but also on billboards and in stores. The brilliance of this campaign is reflected in the extended invitation for iPhone users. The hashtag turned into an online phenomenon and is still active.

  • Put your customers in the center of the story


Apple invites its users to showcase their creative skills, and celebrates them as content creators. Simultaneously, the quality of videos (and photos as well) undeniably showcases the cinematic power of the camera. 

  • Encourage your customers to explore by giving a specific challenge or suggesting a theme


In 2020, Apple specified the propositions of the #ShotonIphone contest and asked their customers to shoot in Night Mode. This “artistic constraint” encouraged users to explore their iPhone settings, and also to try and capture some great videos or shots. When you make the challenge interesting enough, people are likely to board the bandwagon.

Not sure how to make your user generated videos look good? We have just the thing.

To harvest the power of user generated videos, you don’t need to have a huge marketing budget. On the contrary – the beauty of user generated videos lies in the fact that they are completely free. You can take advantage of social media channels and owned media for distribution. The trickiest parts are to build a community and nurture a relationship with them.

I believe that user generated videos can become your most valuable marketing asset, but you do have to control the end quality. Book a 15-min demo for Plainly and let me show you how you can create video templates and set up automations to end up with beautiful videos that include UGV as well. Easiest video marketing materials you’ll ever create, guaranteed. 

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person using a video generator