As we enter 2015, there can be no doubt that we are in an era that is increasingly defined by Big Data and eCommerce. The marketing industry has had to shift away from many of the traditional models that were successful in the past (e.g. large television and newspaper buys) and adapt to the innovations brought about by technology in general and the Internet specifically. In addition, brands are increasingly putting the bulk of their digital marketing efforts into social media, which is hands down the largest area of opportunity in the digital marketing sector.
The increased emphasis on social media recently has been driven by user-generated content (UGC). A growing number of companies are attempting to build brand affinity and website traffic through the use of UGC, and it is in every marketing department’s best interests to, at the very least, increase their understanding of what UGC is and how it is used to increase website traffic.
Build buzz around your brand
Every marketer has the dream of being able to produce “buzz” at will. Of course in the real world genuine buzz requires the voluntary participation of the customer base. This is particularly true when discussing social media and UGC.
One way to help propagate buzz is to use your company’s social media assets like Dunkin’ Donuts did in their highly successful launch of their #CoolattaGiveaway campaign. The donut megacorp encouraged Facebook & Twitter Fans to upload a photo of themselves with their favorite Coolatta beverage. By doing so, fans were automatically entered into a daily giveaway. The campaign resulted in growing their followers to 800,000 on Facebook and 23,000 followers on Twitter.
The reasonably low cost campaign saw huge results building up their social network following and increased brand & product recognition.
One of the most successful UGC campaigns of all time would have to go to Doritos Super Bowl campaign in 2014. Rather than pay the very expensive fee to an agency to create the ad, Doritos made the bold move to rely on user-generated content and fan participation to drive the campaign. Doritos asked their fans to send in their own 30-second Doritos spot, which was ultimately chosen by voters. The campaign produced massive buzz, which resulted in more than 1 billion impressions.
There are countless other ways a company can use social media to drive buzz and website traffic, but the fundamental key is to provide something interesting and of value to your target audience.
Turn your website viewers into producers
Once you’ve managed to create a robust and loyal following on your company’s social media assets and website, the next step is to turn that audience into advocates for your brand. Ideally, a combination of brand loyalty and responding to contest incentives will turn some of your audience into producers. Photos, videos, and reviews for your company can have a significantly greater impact than paid ads. One way to encourage this behavior among your customers is to make it as easy as possible for them to create and share their content.
One great example of a UGC campaign that successfully turned website viewers into producers on a small budget was the Australian “Best Job in the World” campaign, which spent around $1.2 million on a global campaign and resulted in more than 40,000 UGC entries from 196 countries.
Host a photo campaign
A photo campaign is one way to make it easy for your customers to publically share their UGC. Hashtags can be used to organize the submissions, and can increase the likelihood that your campaign goes “viral”. Air New Zealand had the right idea when they launched the #AirNZPacked campaign in 2014. The campaign captured the excitement and buzz of taking off for your dream vacation by allowing vacationers to upload images of packed suitcases conveying where they were going. The campaign caused a sharing frenzy across Pinterest and Twitter, with the winner for best photo receiving a $1000 Air New Zealand voucher.
The key takeaway for your photo campaign is to make everything as easy and streamlined as possible for your audience.
Use your customers’ stories everywhere
Once you’ve successfully curated UGC, it is important to use that content wherever possible. UGC should be posted everywhere, from the company website, to social media (both paid and organic postings), and whatever marketing collateral you generate.
Coca-Cola’s #shareacoke campaign is credited with a pop in sales. The brand had more than 500,000 social media users all over the world uploading photos of their friend’s names from all over the world. After a decade long decline in Coke sales, volumes rose 0.4% for the 12 weeks through August from the same period a year ago and increased 2.5% in dollar terms. At the same time, Pepsi and Dr. Pepper remained negative. (Source: Wall Street Journal)
Ultimately, the idea behind using UGC is to build a consistent theme throughout the campaign. Keep this in mind, and make it as easy as possible for your customers to create content on your behalf.