Sramana Mitra: What incentive do you offer to consumers to create these highly persuasive user-generated videos?
Daphne Kwon: There are a couple of incentives, and they depend on what the brands are looking for. We try to gamify everything. We are looking for specific actions. You have to show your face, you have to show your product out of packaging, you have to show a demonstration, you have to say you don’t work for the company, etc. So, there are rules to participate. We have points programs, where we say, “Review your grill and get 100 points.” Only 5% to 6% of people ever redeem their points. It is like a membership mile thing. But very few people redeem. The reason for that is they just want to be thanked for their time. They want to be valuable, and they want to know they are helping. That is one way we do it.
Another way is if the product is not very well penetrated or it is a pre-launch product, we can qualify people and send them the products. We look at who this product was designed for. If it is a shampoo for long-haired women or a lotion for older women, we look for those people and ask them if they want to trial this product. In one case we had a toothpaste that was so secret, the company wouldn’t even put the wrapper around it. We were sending out these silver tubes. Consumers want to share what they know, they want to be asked by brands, and they want to give feedback to brands. There is an overwhelming desire, even for a $2 toothpaste, to be asked by the brand what you thought of the product.
There is a group we identified called the “brand-connected consumer”; this is, people who want to talk to and be heard by brands. That is part of the trend we see, which is that people now expect to be in a relationship with brands, and they expect to be treated well in that relationship. That is when valuable content can be created, and this can impact sales and the ability to get a message across to other people who are looking for more authentic information about products than the professionals can give them.
We also have relationships with retailers, which are very interested in any content that can reach new people. We work with a number of retailers to get user-generated videos up on their sites. We have more than 300,000 videos, of which very few are client supported. All of those videos will go up. If you go to a page where we have a consumer who has uploaded a video, the site will show that video as well as any other professional video on that product page. Retailers also want that type of content. That is a social trend that retailers are trying to tap into, which is more powerful than the massive number of text reviews – getting everything on average as opposed to really drilling down on the person that look like you or you think has your point of view and you want to hear what they have to say. That is a much more social than just reading a string of text reviews.
SM: How much of the script or storyboard of a video do the brands vet before these videos get created? Or do they get created on certain specifications, and then the brands simply screen and select which ones they would publish?
DK: When we started the company, they really wanted to control everything. I am sure we lost clients because we wouldn’t let them. Everything we receive gets published. The brand highlights the ones they like the best and they want to put in an ad in. In order to work with us, [the brand has to agree] that every video that is submitted must be published. The video needs to go through moderation, but we don’t censor anything, nor do we let the brands we work with censor anything. That is what separates us from the “make a commercial firm type of company.” That is great. The brands can have that business, but we want to unlock consumer stories everywhere they are and put them where consumers are looking for that information where they are. Every single piece of input is valuable and valid.