We all use the internet, and we all utilise the power of it (well, ‘all’ may be a strong term as my grandparents only just got an internet connection). With the power of the internet we can search and find answers to any questions we may have, whether it’s finding the nearest bar, or learning how to bake a cake – it’s all there.
The internet has opened up the opportunity to connect with the world, with people, and with brands like never before. Whether it’s through websites, blogs, online videos, or social media, we can create our own content, and find content from anyone all over the globe, and best of all, it’s completely free.
In essence, user-generated content (UGC) can be content such as blogs, wikis, discussion forums, posts, chats, tweets, podcasts, digital images, video, audio files, that are posted through Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, or any other online system, social media website, or service.
So, if people are creating their own content about various subjects, objects, places, or brands, companies are wise to exploit this to their advantage.
You may have heard of this one before, or even bought one of the infamous coke bottles. Coca-Cola “Share a Coke with” was a simple idea, yet so incredibly effective. Just by putting names on its bottles, Coca-Cola was able to initiate an enormous amount of user-generated content.
The company attributes the campaign to a 2% increase in U.S. sales after over a decade of declining revenues.
Burberry launched a user generated content strategy as part of their goal to change the company’s aging brand. They established The Art of the Trench website in 2009, where users could upload and comment on pictures of people wearing Burberry products. Burberry’s ecommerce sales surged 50% year-over-year following the launch of the site.
Starbucks White Cup Contest
Starbucks asked coffee goers to decorate one of their cups with customised art and submit a photo of it to Twitter under the hashtag #WhiteCupContest. The brand received almost 4,000 entries and the campaign generated an enormous amount of social media activity. This is a great example of how you don’t need a huge budget to have a big impact on social media.
Walkers – Do Us a Flavour
Walkers invited people to invent their own flavour for a chance to win £1m and potential status-quo for doing so. 1.2m people entered the competition, with the shortlisted entries including ‘Hot Dog with Tomato Ketchup and Chip Shop Chicken Curry’.
The winner, Paul Rothwell’s Pulled Pork in Sticky BBQ Sauce, was picked by judges David Walliams and Marco Pierre White.
National Geographic is known for their picturesque photography, and their campaign “Wanderlust” asked users to “capture glimpses of the unforgettable people, places, and experiences that have impacted their lives from their travels around the world” and then share these pictures on Instagram with the hashtag #WanderlustContest.
By sharing their images with the hashtag participants were given a chance to win a National Geographic Photo Expedition to Yosemite National Park. The campaign was a huge success with 54,336 posts.
UGC, combined with the growth of popular social media websites, allows modern businesses to delegate some of their brand-building responsibilities to the voice of their customer. According to Bazaar Voice, 64% of millennials and 53% of baby boomers want more options to share their opinions about brands, while other studies show consumers trust user generated content more than all other forms of media.
Generally people will post content online when something is either really good or really bad. Therefore, if brands can make sure their products are good enough to share, rather than bad enough to share, then they’re onto a winner. USG is authentic, scalable, and absolutely infinite – people are still posting pictures of their Starbucks cups even now! Making use of how active we all are online is not only inexpensive, it’s genius.