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Five times that brands totally mastered marketing with user generated content

23rd Feb 2016
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In the past decade, social media has also created a new rapport between brands and consumers - a two-way conversation that has allowed brands to connect with consumers in a more authentic manner. But how can a brand, with its carefully built marketing identity, truly be authentic in a way that wins over today’s digitally savvy consumer? By allowing other consumers to vouch for it.

At the heart of every brand campaign are its users, who create their own content on a daily basis across Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Vine and Instagram. Every day, more than 1.8 billion photos and 144,000 hours of video are uploaded around the world on social media.

Add to that the fact that over 45% of people engage with brands via online social networks, the brand value of user generated content (or UGC, for short) is increasingly becoming an important component of many successful brand marketing campaigns. To wit, 84% of millennials say that user-generated content has an effect on what they buy.

Here are examples of five stand-out brands which have created winning strategies with user generated content over the past year.

Using hashtags to drive content creation

National Geographic

National Geographic (NatGeo) has for decades provided readers with compelling imagery from around the world. Its recent “Wanderlust Instagram Photo Contest” used Instagram’s inherently visual platform to encourage people to share their own breathtaking images using the #WanderlustContest hashtag for a chance to win a Yosemite photo expedition with a NatGeo photographer. Wildly successful at engaging fans on Instagram, NatGeo has seen Instagram followers grow from 10.1 million followers in 2014 to over 43 million followers today.

Creating hype around a product launch


To launch its new game, “Heroes of the Storm,” global video game publisher, Blizzard Entertainment, launched a digital campaign countdown page centered around the game-relevant hashtag #NexusCalling to build user moment ahead of the game’s wider launch. Fans were given access to live trailers, provided a behind-the-scenes look at advance game content and were encouraged to create and share their own game avatars. The digital pre-launch activities were augmented by a live launch that was well-attended due to the hands-on online buzz generated by fans ahead of time.

Making user generated content shoppable


According to research, featuring user generated photos at the point of purchase boosts conversion by up to seven percent. Global shoe brand Clarks launched a campaign encouraging parents to share photos of their children’s best moments using the Instagram and Twitter hashtag #ClarksMoments, which was then aggregated on Clarks kids’ shoes microsite. Each week, Clarks would pick a ‘Moment of the Week’ to highlight, making each user generated image shoppable, so that parents viewing the Clarks website could see real-life examples of children wearing Clarks shoes and click through to buy based on the images shown. In this way, Clarks made it very easy for parents to shop based on authentic consumer recommendations.

Turning selfies into sales

Dunkin Donuts shark week

Discovery Channel, a US-based cable and satellite television channel, got fans excited about its annual ‘Shark Week’ programming by leveraging the power of the selfie. Partnering with the iconic US donut retailer, Dunkin’ Donuts, Discovery Channel’s ‘take a bite, take a pic’ campaign asked fans to take a picture of their ‘shark-bitten’ donut and upload it using hashtag #DDSharkWeekPromo. Winners with the best shark-bite donut photo were featured on Discovery Channel’s TV programming and on a billboard in New York’s Times Square. The campaign drove donut sales and added an interactive layer of awareness to the annual event-TV programming of Shark Week.

Transforming in-venue experiences


Every year, millions of people visit Ripley’s Believe It Or Not museums around the world for a unique tourist experience. Ripley’s wanted to digitise the traditional in-venue experience so in August 2015, it asked its visitors to share the content from their experiences, so that it could be displayed on digital screens at venues around the world. Employing mobile as part of the UCG strategy allowed Ripley to bridge the traditional, offline Ripley’s visitor experience with a unique online experience.

What can marketers learn from these UGC-led campaigns?

In each of these examples, the UGC-led campaign resulted in increased user engagement, evidenced by an uptick in the number of followers, shares, mentions and official hashtag usages for each brand around the campaign. As with any marketing campaign, the UGC campaign results in each instance were measured against sales numbers, proving their credibility and effectiveness.

The ultimate takeaway for brand marketers from each of these campaigns is that consumers trust other consumers to make purchase decisions. Making a concerted effort to get your brand in front of consumers that can then create their own content to share with their peers will result in consumers acting as your authentic brand advocates - an incredibly powerful form of advocacy in today’s day and age.


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