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Case study examples of brands using user-generated content for marketing

22nd Aug 2016
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We are all familiar with testimonials that businesses post on their sites. This is the original user generated content, although often these are a bit suspect. After all, anyone can make up a testimonial. The same goes for review websites, on which supposed customers post their comments and feedback. Again, this user-generated content is also suspect, if it is complimentary. Brand marketers have thus avoided testimonials and asking for reviews and have come to rely on their own content to attract and engage their target audiences.

Yet, businesses do have happy, satisfied customers – customers who can become great brand ambassadors and who can become actively engaged in a brand’s promotion. They have much greater credibility with other potential customers than the company-generated content and most of them like participating with the brands they use. Marketers need to take advantage of these ambassadors and use them strategically on their social media platforms. Here are some successful ways to create user-generated content.

Create Opportunities for Customers to Engage in Dialogue with You and With Each Other

This can be accomplished in a number of ways, and here are some examples that should give you some ideas.

  • ModCloth: This company has mastered the art of customer engagement and dialogue. It allows customers to vote on items of clothing it is considering carrying; it asks for reviews of clothing items; it asks customers to name new items and awards the item to the winner.
  • Lays asked its customers to vote on their favorite potato chip flavor.
  • Jack Daniels asks customers to submit weird bar stories and then allows followers to vote for the best one.

What these marketers understand is that they can listen to their customers’ ideas, feedback, and suggestions, both positive and negative. They can use these conversations to improve customer experiences and service. And, in the process, they will increase the chances of their content being shared with others.

These are only a few examples. Do some research on social media and find how other businesses are engaging users.

Highlighting Customers as Brand Ambassadors

One of the most effective user-generated content strategies is to ask for customer submissions of ways in which they are using your product or service. Customers are really happy to get involved in this way and will send in photos and videos for marketers to use. Here are some solid examples of marketer who highlight their customers.

Headbands of Hope: This is a for-profit company with a mission of helping children with cancer. For every headband purchased, one is donated to a little girl with cancer and $1 is donated to children’s cancer research. A part of the marketing plan is to feature little girls wearing those headbands and to have a featured child each week.

ModCloth: Not to “beat a dead horse” but this company has this user-generated content thing nailed. It asks customers to submit photos of themselves in their purchased items and then posts them on their social media platforms.

All Kitchen Find: Here is a company that offers all things kitchen-related, and customers are fully involved. They vote on items which are then rated on the site. And they feature customers using the items they carry. As Christy Lin, Marketing Director says, “The best marketing we have comes from the pictures and videos our customers send us. When we feature them on our site, Facebook and Instagram pages and they are showing the great meals they are creating with our products, we get lots more traffic and conversation. Some of our customers share their recipes too, and that is a big draw.”

User-Generated Content Provides Social Proof

Consumers tend to take recommendations seriously. Consider the millennial. This huge purchasing demographic has been researched at length, and one of the results of that research is that they rely on the recommendations of others when they are considering purchases. And these recommendations can even come from strangers or friends of friends, through social media comments and conversations. When they see live consumers using products or extolling their virtues, they take note. In fact, in a recent market survey, 50% of consumers stated they trusted consumer content while only 14% stated they trusted the company-generated content. Obviously, the more chatter a marketer can encourage and post on social channels, the more credibility the brand has.

The Takeaway for Marketers

Now the rubber needs to meet the road. These examples should have given you a good idea of how user-generated content can be effective and boost brand spreading and consumer interest and trust.

Your presence on social media must include plenty of opportunities for followers and customers to engage with you, through conversation, through adding their opinions and comments, and for visually becoming a part of your brand marketing tactics. Here are some specific things you can do quickly and without much of a budget:

  • Ask your customers to contribute to every chance you get. Ask questions, solicit feedback, etc
  • Provide a reward if customers will participate with you – a free item, a discount, etc.
  • Hold contests and surveys
  • Ask for submissions constantly. WD-40 asked customers to submit unusual uses for its product several years ago and is still getting submissions today. Posting the idea with a photo or at least the name of the customer lends great interest and credibility
  • Focus on channels that are popular with your target audience and current customers. And you can post the same things on more than one channel to ensure that you get optimal coverage.

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