Winning the Context War with User-Generated Content

Today’s technology understands who your consumers are, where they are and what they want. We’ve reached an era where relationships with technology are much closer than ever before.

Published in 1999, The Cluetrain Manifesto argued that markets are conversations and the Internet is going to be where those conversations will take place. Changing business’ perspective, Cluetrain got people thinking about the Internet as a marketplace and how to market goods through traditional marketing and advertising within a digital space.

In the coming years, social media would take the stage and completely revolutionize digital marketing and advertising. Social media has become a market in itself, fostering conversations between all ages, genders, races, nationalities, etc. The amount of content/data being produced from the beginning of time until now is replicated every 48 hours.

Keeping consumer attention and cutting through this noise is a major challenge that companies face within their marketing strategies. This is what Gary Vaynerchuk has deemed the Context War.

The Context War and Why it Matters


Context War: Social graph phenomenon giving social media users more ways to share content, putting it into context for other users and ultimately affecting brands’ economic growth.

Context (not just content) is a major factor that drives a brand’s marketing and economic success. Brands can create and distribute content to their audiences until they’re blue in the face, but content is ultimately useless without context. Brands are currently fighting to create sufficient context for their content with end-users (consumers) in mind.

Consumers are more likely to listen to a friend’s suggestion from Pinterest, Yelp, Twitter or Facebook than they are a brand-generated ad or post. In addition to friends, seeing recommendations from “someone like me” on Pinterest, Yelp, Facebook or Twitter could also spark a consumer’s interest.

With word-of-mouth and “others like me” proving to be the most effective marketing tools, it’s crucial that brands create context with their end-user in mind in order to drive its marketing success and economic growth going forward.

Are You #Winning?

Coming out ahead in the Context War is a matter of redefining your marketing and advertising strategy, with social intent as the main focus. Monitoring social media and conversations are a brand’s biggest tool in discovering valuable interest connections and generating context for future conversations with consumers.

The Interest Graph can be really useful when first starting your search for interest connections because it gives valuable insight on ways to develop those connections and how to generate revenue from them.

A key differentiator and secret weapon within the Context War is displaying user-generated content on your brand’s website.

Curation platforms are one of the most valuable tools that allow you to harness interest and context, involving your community, making them part of the brand story, and ultimately giving your marketing efforts and content context.

User-generated content is not only a way to see how consumers view your product, but it’s a great way to build and foster a loyal community around your brand; allowing your brand advocates and fans to contribute to and become the conversation. As a result, the consumer community creates context for the content you are broadcasting on your own social channels.

Visual content is proven to increase traffic and time on site, grabbing your audience’s attention for even a few seconds longer and potentially longer. These few extra seconds could be the difference between losing customer interest, and making a loyal brand advocate.

>>Learn more about adding user-generated and hashtag content to your site.

Brands on the Front Lines

Using user-generated content to harness the power of visual media and community conversations, a number of brands have seen a rise in engagement, sales and site traffic.


Moleskine has always used visual content strategies within their branding and advertising to set itself apart in a highly specialized market catering to creatives from many foreign and domestic industries.

In 2011, Moleskine launched an international campaign called “What’s In Your Bag?” that involved Moleskine fans to take and upload photos of the contents of their carryalls to the company Facebook Fan Page. The photos would then be placed in an album for shares, comments and likes.

The campaign generated thousands of user-generated photos, likes and comments; thus being one of the most successful user-generated content campaigns social media marketing has ever seen. Moleskine continues to launch visual social media campaigns that are user-generated driven by using prompts that give all content contexts.

University of Oregon: Quack Cave

The University of Oregon Athletics Department’s social media command center, the Quack Cave, has become quite the success after launching on September 1st. Being the NCAA’s first digital monitoring headquarters, the Quack Cave was built to monitor fan-generated content, see the buzz surrounding the Ducks and keep tabs on coaches, players and teams.

During Duck’s football games, the Quack Cave tweets and retweets fan- and student-generated content and responds to fans via the @QuackCave Twitter handle. Using Postano’s visual social media monitoring dashboard, the Ducks are able to better leverage user-generated content from their large community.

Nine West: Social 9

Nine West’s social media page, Social 9, is where the brand brings visual social media content from fashionista fans to their website. Integrating social media into their website, Nine West is encouraging conversation and engagement from their audience to share their favorite trends and accessories.

Recently launching their newest campaign, Channel 9, a channel dedicated to sharing shoe love stories, Nine West continues to include user-generated content in their social media marketing strategy to boost their marketing and economic success.