Facebook has become such a part of our daily lives. But if we look closely it’s not Facebook itself that keeps us coming back.
We’re not attracted to the blue shade, or the white fonts, or the design of the Timeline. We’re attracted to the people who use them, and the posts that contribute to the community.
This is the case for almost all major websites, from the pictures we scroll through on Instagram, to the products we view on eBay, to the cat videos we laugh at on YouTube!
These are all examples of User Generated Content (UGC). Generally, any content that is posted gratis by the user of the product or service is an example of UGC.
It is easy to see how this can be taken advantage by online services, but a smart marketer can utilize the same concepts and use it to boost the reach of his own product or service — no matter what it is!
Multiply Your Marketing Efforts
Let’s face it: the hive mind that forms when fans bond together is unbeatable.
You can hire the best marketing analysts, the best digital artists, or the best social media managers for your small business, and they can still be one-upped by the creativity of a regular user.
What if you can tap this totally free asset, and utilize its wide grassroots reach to multiply whatever marketing efforts you have?
This is the reason why user-generated content is all the rage in business circles.
Word of Mouth Marketing
Eight years ago, back in 2009, luxury clothing brand Burberry was one of the first adopters of the concept, as a way to build up on the word-of-mouth marketing idea. Instead of taking time to hire models and shoot professional photos, it asked its customers to post pictures of themselves wearing the brand’s trench coats. All it had to do was to curate the submissions and post them on the web — voila, instant campaign!
By using user-generated content, you get access to all the cool stuff your user base can think of. Plus, if you’re a solopreneur, you can do all the curating and posting yourself! The time when you need a whiz team to create a viral gimmick is long past — your fans can think one up for you if you incentivize them well enough.
User-Generated Content is great for your product image, too. Research done by eMarketer says that almost 70% of millennials aged 18-24 factor in the stuff they see on social media when buying things. Furthermore, a whopping 86% say that UGC is indicative of a brand’s quality!
Unleash Your Consumers’ Creativity
Burberry’s campaign was nice, but these types are a dime-a-dozen nowadays. You can do that, but to really make an impact, you have to be as unique as possible.
Why not ask your users to tweak or customize your products their way, a la Starbucks’ White Cup Contest?
Or you can ask them to submit cool ideas for future product releases, similar to Lays’ Do Us A Flavor Campaign.
You can even ask them to show how they use your product in creative ways, or how your product has influenced the way they work. The possibilities are only limited by your creativity!
Make sure to make the submission process easy for your users. An incentive is great, but it’s also important to make them feel that what they’re doing can make a difference — either by influencing the product or its other users.
If you get these elements right, you can tap into a powerful resource where you let your users win while driving your marketing to new heights!