In the digital age, customers are more likely to travel through multiple sources of information before concluding their purchase. From a product demo video on YouTube to review forums to asking their friends, consumers are more informed than ever before. This phenomenon has also led to the rise of user-generated content or any form of content like blogs, chats, social media posts, images, video, that was created by a user.

User-generated content can be powerful in influencing a purchasing decision. For this reason, companies across all industries are looking to leverage user-generated content as a strategy for community engagement.

Why User-Generated Content Works

It’s one thing to hear the value of your product from an advertisement or product page. It’s another when value is expressed from a third-party source that has no reason to skew their praises. It’s this honesty factor that makes testimonies, demos, and reviews the most trustworthy type of content.

User-generated takes the value of testimonies, demos, and reviews and amplifies them through the voice of a customer. A study by Ipsos MediaCT found that user-generated content was 35% more memorable and 50% more trusted than other forms of media.[1] When it comes to investing trust in media, customers always choose the content that is produced by peers over professionals.

3 Types of User-Generated Content that Worked

When developing a user-generated campaign, it’s essential to align your strategy with the best medium that fits your brand. If you’re selling fashionable consumer goods, then a visual approach will best promote value. Business software, tools, and other business-to-business products will work best in a medium that can communicate a tone of information in a short amount of time.

Here are some examples of user-generated strategies and their campaigns that worked:

  1. Community Building with Hashtags: Lululemon’s #thesweatlife

Lululemon saw a golden opportunity where fans of the clothing would upload selfies to Twitter or Instagram. To centralize these images in a campaign that promotes the Lululemon as fashionable sportswear, the company started the hashtag #thesweatlife. Lululemon would then engage with followers of the hashtag by directing people to the products worn in the images.

  1. Product Crowdsourcing and Contests: Lay’s “Do Us a Flavor”

In 2013, Lay’s potato chips held a massive crowdsourcing event where chip enthusiasts could submit their own flavors. The vote was incentivized with a one-million-dollar prize and grew to 3.8 million submissions. The contest was repeated annually through 2016, allowing fans to engage with the Lay’s brand and showcase their creativity.

  1. Guest Posting: Target’s College Acceptance Letter

Following the YouTube boom of 2010, Target pledged $500 million to education for students who opened their acceptance letters on video.  The best videos were then used in a Target commercial to help bring more attention to Target’s philanthropic efforts. The videos were a major hit across Twitter and YouTube as Target’s major demographic – millennials – joined together in a major life event.

Don’t Forget: Request to Use Entries in Your Marketing Campaigns

Ultimately, you’ll want to use user-generated in your marketing campaigns. It’s essential that you abide by all of the promotional guidelines and set terms of agreement before you start using user-generated content. After all, there’s nothing worse than calling off a fun promotion because of a law suit.

Laws can vary from region-to-region and site or social network. By no means is this an exhaustive list, but here are some legal guidelines to get you started:

  1. Facebook Pages Terms
  2. LinkedIn Advertising Guidelines
  3. Instagram Promotion Guidelines
  4. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Endorsement Guides

The most important thing to keep in mind when starting a user-generated campaign is to find a campaign that lends itself best to your brand.

Lululemon saw an opportunity with their consumer base uploading selfies on Twitter and Instagram. Lay’s chips made trying the multitude of flavors exciting with a contest. Target understood their millennial demographic and capitalized on the transition between high school and college. When your campaign is aligned with brand, your consumer base will be more willing to participate and generate content.

 

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[1] “Social Influence: Marketing’s New Frontier”. Crowdtap. http://corp.crowdtap.com/socialinfluence