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User-generated video content was everywhere in 2017. As a video director and storyteller, I have watched its rise with interest. Big brands like Santander have used it in their TVCs, Air BnB have embraced it in their online campaigns and the X Factor have brought it into the mainstream on a Saturday night.  It’s easy to see why marketers are clamoring to include it:-

  • 46% of Europeans asked said that they trusted UGC more than any other type of content. (Olapic)
  • User-generated videos on YouTube receive 10x more views than content created and uploaded by the actual brand. (Digital Resources NZ )
  • 86% of consumers (and 90% of Millennials) say authenticity is important when deciding what brands they like and support. (Stackla)
  • Brand engagement increases an average of 28% when users are exposed to a combination of user created product videos and professional content. (Tint Up)

Last summer we were asked to collaborate with Cancer Research UK on their UGC content campaign “Because of You” that aims to show the impact of donations through the eyes of cancer patients.

Our first project featuring mum of 4 and breast cancer patient Emma Campbell has been shortlisted for the 2018 Charity Film Awards. To celebrate this success we look back at the project from the perspective of all three stakeholders – the client, the contributor and me the filmmaker.

Hero Video – Emma’s Story

The Client  – Julia Hattersley – Senior Direct Marketing Executive, Cancer Research UK

Julia Hattersley

The Brief: We wanted to tell Emma’s story from different perspectives in a series of three films, to thank our regular supporters for the many millions of pounds of life-saving research they make happen every year. We chose to focus on “Back to School” as a theme. We wanted the footage to feel authentic and relatable through a collection of snapshots of Emma’s everyday life with her family and getting the kids ready for school after the school holidays.

The key message was to thank our 1.1million donors who give to us regularly. We want to communicate that Because of You, research is happening and real lives are being saved right now. Through sharing real stories like Emma’s and Professor Downward’s, we’re hoping to demonstrate the collective power of donations and inspire belief that together we will beat cancer sooner.

The Challenge: I think the nature of UGC can be challenging at times as you don’t always know what you will get! As much as we have an idea of what we want the films to look like, UGC and real life, don’t follow a script. We are lucky because Emma is a fantastic volunteer and inspirational lady. She had a large library of great family clips and photos for us to work with and her positivity really comes across on camera. Nicky as a director has an amazing way of bringing these together to tell a story that’s full of energy and optimism.

What we have learned: Our key learning for the future is to stay focused on telling individual stories through UGC. Also having the production team spend a day with our chosen volunteer is an amazing way of imparting those great filming tips and gives our volunteer confidence to film fantastic stuff on their own. Additionally, we provided the family with props like water pistols and dress up masks, which worked really well as it gave them something to do and made the shots fun and energetic. Also, you can never have too much footage – It doesn’t have to be perfect, just keep it coming!

We are so happy with the films and the feedback has been fantastic!

Landing Page Video – The Science Behind You Donations

The Filmmaker –  Nicky Woodhouse – Video Director, Woodhouse Video Production

Video Director

Nicky Woodhouse

Pre-Production is vital: One of the constant discussions I have with clients on any video project is stressing the importance of pre-production and planning how to tell your story. Luckily with Cancer Research UK, this is not a debate I need to have. They are fully behind this important process and in addition to storyboarding and scripting our ideal video they actually user tested the storyboard ahead of going into production so we could identify what areas needed improvement.

Finding a good “UGC” contributor: Emma was the perfect contributor for the project as she is tech savvy and recorded video clips of her life with her kids anyway. Indeed many of the standout moments came from her historic library of existing clips rather than those which she filmed for the project. I would urge anyone who is casting a UGC video to take this into consideration as it really did make a huge difference.

WhatsApp Group: Emma sent us the clips as she recorded them on a WhatsApp group. This allowed me to monitor the clips and provide real-time feedback and encouragement. I constantly had to remind Emma that the clips didn’t need to be perfect and it was the rawness and authenticity of everyday life that we were interested in.

Building strong relationships with contributors is vital: Going back to the core of our ethos at WVP this is fundamental for any kind of video project when you are working with real people. Being sensitive, friendly, reassuring and relaxed in all communications will make a better film as your contributor will feel more relaxed and be more open in front of the camera – whether it is you that is filming them or indeed their partner on their iPhone!

video director

Nicky and Emma post interview getting into the UGC spirit with a selfie!

The Contributor – Emma Campbell – Mum, Writer, Blogger

Emma Campbell

Telling my story: I was really pleased to be asked to contribute to the Because of You campaign. I knew it would be fun, a lovely memory for us all and, most importantly, I’d be doing my bit towards highlighting the importance of donating to CRUK. There are always aspects of sharing my cancer ‘story’ that are tough.  When Nicky was interviewing me I did get emotional at times but that’s okay. Honesty is so important and so helpful to others watching who might be going through something similar.  The more we talk and share the less alone, isolated and afraid we feel. I felt really relaxed on the day, it was such fun!  Nicky and the team immediately put us all at ease.  The atmosphere was laid back, upbeat and, aside from my kid’s unruly behavior, stress-free!

Documenting my life on video: It took me a while to get used to the UGC element.  At first, I was too self-conscious and thought that each clip had to be perfect but, after a while and with Nicky’s encouragement I realised that it really was all about capturing those every day, messy moments that make life what it is –  real. The kids were a bit irritated at first – Mummy following them around with her phone camera got on their nerves a bit but they soon got into the spirit of things and once I explained why we were doing it they were fully on board.

Advice to others: If I had to give advice to other contributors I would just say go for it –  don’t think too much, just grab all the moments you can.  So, I’d say from the time you all wake up, sleepy-eyed and grumpy to bedtime – just capture as much as you can.  You simply can’t have too much content.  The more ‘moments’ there are the more amazing the end result will be. Be bold, enjoy it and just imagine you’re being the fly on the wall of your own life.  I got really into it in the end. In fact, I’m driving my kids mad because I’m still following them around with my phone weeks later!

Connect with Emma on Social Media

Social Media Montage Video