Get Inspired and Then Inspire Your Users to Generate Content
Brands of all sizes and stripes are finding that they can achieve better brand engagement and greater marketing success with peer-generated, authentic content than they can with more conventional, multimillion dollar campaigns.
There are a couple of reasons for the fun phenomenon. According to a 2016 survey conducted by Olapic, a visual content strategy agency, 76 percent of consumers trust peer recommendations over ads. Also, user-generated content (UGC) is much less expensive to produce and a much more efficient way of reaching customers today where they live and play - online and on social media. UGC marketing strategies rely on visual content that consumers create themselves – a much more affordable option than traditional advertising. Well, if you can inspire them to create it that is.
So let's get to it. Here are some great examples of brands inspiring fun and engaging user-generated content:
"Screamracha" by Matthew Inman aka The Oatmeal
Matthew Inman, the super-talented creator of the comic The Oatmeal, and the games Exploding Kittens and Bears vs. Babies, has a thing for Sriracha - and art. We have to imagine the makers of the hot sauce were thrilled when this popular Seattle-based cartoonist was inspired to create this parody of "The Scream" by Norwegian expressionist artist Edvard Munch. And this is just one of many Sriracha inspired works by The Oatmeal.
So how do you encourage your customers and fans to create art based on your product or service? Conduct an art or photo contest, post submissions on your website and social media, and reward the winner. You can even host a "gallery" event at your place of business - just one more opportunity to encourage and promote UGC.
The High School Dance Team that was Udderly Devoted to Chick-Fil-A
Who doesn't enjoy a great dance routine? How fun! But the important takeaway here for small business brands is that UGC doesn't have to be a simple image of a user engaging with your product or service. It can be a video or event. Also, your product or service doesn't even have to be front-and-center. Notice there's no Chick-Fil-A logo in use here, just their slogan "Eat Mor Chikin" which is clearly a political hot-button for cows. Remember, the star of the show can be any recognizable element of your brand.
The Bride and Groom that Took (Brand) Engagement Pics at Target
Yeah, it's pretty totes adorbs. It's a super cute example of a couple taking "brand engagement" to a whole new level. This Miami bride and groom did in fact ask their wedding photographer Evan Rich Photography to do their engagement photoshoot at their favorite store. Saying "yes" was a brilliant marketing move, Evan Rich! The story of the couple's love of Target was covered by the local news and their engagement photos quickly made the rounds on social media. The lesson here for small-business brands? Create a lovable brand and your customers will embrace it, emulate it, and share it.
The Classroom Using Canva to Create Community Awareness
Another great example of UGC, this time with a positive social impact. Canva is a fantastic tool for creating designs and this teacher's fourth-grade class put it to good use to drive awareness about an important environmental issue. Since the teacher mentioned Canva in her tweet, a Canva social media manager quickly responded with positive encouragement for the class. Small-business brands and non-profits can also monitor their social channels for these types of valuable UGC posts and boost the signal. Social media management tools like Hootsuite, Buffer, and Sprinklr make it easy to monitor multiple social channels within one handy dashboard. Likewise, brand monitoring tools like BuzzSumo and Mention can help alert you when your brand, products, or services are getting attention.
The Loyal UPS Dogs of Facebook and Instagram
The images are priceless. No wonder the "UPS Dogs" Facebook page has more than 1.1 million followers and there's another 183,000+ following @upsdogs over on Instagram. While the Facebook page started out in 2013 with drivers uploading pics of their favorite dogs, it's now a majority of user-generated posts. All of the images of UPS drivers interacting with the pups on their delivery routes are as endearing as they are valuable to the UPS brand. If your small business has a product or service with a loyal following (hard to get more loyal than puppers though!) then be sure to create your own Facebook page or group where your customers and fans can share their posts and interact with your brand.
Taking a UGC Strategy to the Next Level
An important takeaway from these examples is that UGC can come from anyone and anywhere - from a famous cartoonist to a fourth-grade classroom. Our best advice then is to create a consistent brand identity and experience in real life and online that encourages fun user engagement. But in order to be sure you don't miss an opportunity, issue a BOLO (be on the look-out) to your employees, use a social media management platform to engage in social listening, and employ brand monitoring tools. Also worth a read: Search Engine Journal has a great article on 5 ways UGC can boost your SEO.