If you don’t know how potentially powerful the effects of user-generated content are, you’re about to find out. Over the past few years, brands have been buoyed by a welcome tidal wave of user-generated content, created by hoards of engaged and excited fans.
In the marketing world, there’s nothing more authentic and enthralling than a real live person putting time and effort into promoting a favorite brand. It’s that kind of earned media that is especially effective in reaching new people – not to mention staying below budget while your audience does the work.
More and more brands are starting to think outside the box when it comes to incentivizing their followers to transform into creators. Let’s see what some of the best are up to.
Coca Cola gets creative
Last year Coke launched “The Ahh Effect,” its first all-digital campaign, with 61 unique URLs of interactive experiences, now compiled at www.ahh.com. Aimed at mobile-savvy teens, the push offered quick games and quizzes with fun animations and a high silly factor – as well as a prompt for fans to create and share their own software-based ideas.
The project was a hit; within six months, the first 40 sites got four million visits and an average time onsite of two minutes. Not a bad start for a campaign that Coke hoped would last and last. And it has – the latest iteration has moved beyond digital and back to TV. April’s “This is AHH” clip – Coke’s first ever user-generated content only spot – featured a choppy and energetic mash-up of various entries in response to the question, “What does it feel like to take a sip of Coke?”
The reel was shown on popular networks among teens like MTV and Adult Swim and is up to over 606,000 YouTube views since mid-May. Getting kids to hunker down and make good use of their skills and time, while offering a creative outlet and the chance to shine on TV? Now that just sounds like some good, clean fun. A+, Coke.
Warby Parker’s take-home test
Not every brand has the pocket power to go all out like Coca Cola, but with some creativity and awesome user-generated content, they don’t have to. A couple of years ago, Warby Parker came up with their Home Try-On service, which is still very much in full swing today.
The idea is simple, and brilliant: Complimentary shipping (plus return) of five select styles that potential buyers ponder for five days while taking selfies galore for shopping advice. It’s perfect for social, whether users prefer Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, and wonderfully practical for those who live too far from one of the brand’s retail locations – or who’d simply prefer to try out the fun service!
Either way, it’s a great strategy for building positive buzz around the brand (just imagine the reach of bloggers alone!) while helping buyers find their perfect pair of specs. And find them they do; company co-founder and co-CEO David Gilboa reports, “Customers who post photos of themselves in frames are buying at twice the rate as those who don’t.”
Rent the Runway, Up Close & Personal
If doubling sales seems like like a lot, how do you like the sound of quadrupling? That’s exactly what happened for fellow New York City startup Rent the Runway, a site that lets users borrow high-end dresses for a fraction of their retail prices. Following up on user feedback, three years into the venture the team introduced Our Runway, a microsite that encourages users to “get inspired by customer photos.”
Shoppers can sort by height, bust, size and even age, scrolling through an ever-increasing array of images featuring countless women in various gowns, angles and poses. It’s that unique ability to see other, real people with similar body types wearing a piece of interest that’s evidentially had such an impact on the startup’s numbers, and good for them. It cost $0 to get delighted fans to post pretty pictures of themselves on the site, all while purchases went up a whopping 200%. That’s the power of authenticity.
Benefit tries Reddit
It’s rare to come in quite so below budget with marketing efforts, but with user-generated content, very little can go a long way. Remember, user-generated content isn’t limited to selfies and home movies that feature or promote brands. It can take many forms and mediums, like customer reviews or tutorials for instance.
Earlier this summer, cosmetics purveyor Benefit set up a very simple ad on Reddit, signaling a competition: post a picture of your “best winged liner looks” and win make-up from the brand’s “They’re Real!” line. The Benefit team smartly posted the ad to subreddits where people already upload tons of make-up-related content, meaning the cue went right along with regular user behavior.
The result? Over 100 responses from makeover-happy users who were only too obliged to discuss their best looks and tips all while cheering each other on and creating some positive hype around Benefit’s new line. Notice that participants weren’t even asked to use Benefit products in their posts, just any liner for any kind of wing. That kind of flexibility invites all the more responses, spreading awareness further and further.
So you see, there’s no one way to get people excited and thinking creatively. The possibilities are endless, and the more imaginative you get, the better. Why stop at selfies when there’s so much more to explore? Share your favorite user-generated content moments with us @newscred.
By Anastasia Dyakovskaya, NewsCred Contributor