'Customer experience' has become one of the biggest buzzwords in digital marketing, and brands are looking for more effective ways to interact with and engage customers in new and exciting ways.
And what better way to do that than by having existing customers praise a company’s products and services, because that provides social proof, which is the tendency all of us have to be more interested in a company when other people recommend it with enthusiasm.
This brings us to the value of user-generated content, which is content created by people who already use your products and services.
The cool thing about user-generated content is that you don’t pay your customers to post this content, while it also provides your business with credibility and authenticity, because the good things people say about your business are genuine.
Let’s take a look at some recent ways that brands have implemented a user-generated content strategy on social media to their benefit.
#AerieReal Instagram Campaign
Instagram has become catnip to many companies, because it's heavily visual focus enables brand messaging that can be both clever and unique - and can trigger a lot of social media impressions.
Aerie is a women’s clothing company, and they recently ran a user-generated social media campaign in which they asked their female customers to post natural, un-retouched bathing suit selfies on Instagram.
For every selfie that women posted, Aerie pledged one dollar to the National Eating Disorders Association.
This was a powerful and distinct user-generated campaign, because it tied Aerie to the serious issue of female body image, and branded the company as being socially conscious, which is a big driver for Millennial engagement.
And it did that all by simply soliciting customers courageous enough to send in bathing suit photos that were empowering.
Ugg Australia Kylie Jenner Campaign
One of the most effective ways to implement a user-generated social media campaign is to enlist the help of an influencer.
Your influencer doesn’t have to be a celebrity, but it does have to be someone credible in your industry, and someone who, ideally, has amassed a large social media following, and is trusted by those followers to validate products and services he or she finds valuable.
Ugg Australia did just that when they were able to get social media magnet Kylie Jenner to take a selfie wearing one of their signature boots.
Because Jenner has a massive social media following - and because her followers analyze every detail of every selfie she takes - Ugg knew that the fact Jenner was wearing its boots would send thousands running to see where they could buy the same pair.
Now Jenner is obviously not a normal ‘user,’ but the point is that if you can find an influencer in your industry to post a photo or video that includes one of your products, it can be a shortcut to a significant increase in social media awareness.
Warby Parker Home Try-On Campaign
There’s nothing customers love more than getting the chance to sample a product or service before they commit to buying - but instead of the boring, “Try it for 30 days” gimmick that so many companies trot out, brands are finding more interesting, unique and visual ways to allow their customers to take their products for a test-drive.
Warby Parker, a company that sells prescription glasses as well as stylish sunglasses recently took advantage of this marketing strategy with its #WarbyHomeTryOn campaign.
The company allowed customers to choose five pairs of eyeglasses to try free for five days.
Warby Parker asked customers to post selfies of how they looked with each pair of glasses on, and to post images to their favorite social media sites with the hashtag #WarbyHomeTryOn.
This was a brilliant implementation of user-generated content, because customers were able to solicit opinions from their social media followers about which glasses they liked best, and Warby Parker got a ton of free advertising.
But even more importantly, the campaign duplicated the process most people take when they are trying to decide which glasses to buy in a store.
The big difference, however, is that customers were able to spend five days getting opinions and having fun with the different looks that the glasses gave them, which went a long way toward persuading them to buy a pair.
When you make it easy and fun for your customers to sample your products and services, you give them the social proof of hearing positive reaction from other people about those products and services.
But you're not just providing ‘freebies,’ you're branding your company as being so confident in its core product or service that it'll let customers sample it for nearly a week without having to make a commitment.
Let Your Customers Do the Work
User-generated content is all about letting your customers express their feelings about your company without you having to edit their words or pictures in any way.
Customers tend to believe other customers more than they believe your spin or marketing ploys, because there's a common goal when people shop for products and services - getting quality at an affordable price.
But no matter what type of user-generated campaign you choose to implement, remember that it has to tie into the reason your business exists. Whether you're showing the socially conscious aspect of your company, or you're highlighting influencers that have bought in, make sure that the campaign reveals something unique and interesting about your business.