In recent years, the popularity of user-generated content (UGC) has been on a steady rise.
Now it just seems everyone – from tech giants like Tesla to local burger shops with a somewhat questionable reputation – have embraced the power of sharing their customers’ content.
And there are many good reasons behind the choice, such as:
- Cost-efficiency. UGC is pretty low-budget as it turns the customers into the primary creators and distributors of the content.
- Brand exposure. It can also help the brands to increase their social outreach since by creating and sharing UGC, the users essentially promote the brand to their network.
- Effectiveness. 9 out of 10 people admit that UGC has a much stronger effect on their buying decisions than any other form of brand advertising. The reason may have to do with the fact that user-generated content is often perceived as more authentic and trustworthy than a brand-made one.
So what makes for a successful UGC campaign, then?
Let’s take a look as we dive into some of the most clever UGC campaigns of recent years and analyze the reasons behind their success.
1. Aerie‘s #AerieReal campaign
In an industry known for its unrealistic body standards and abundant photoshopping, Aerie’s intimate apparel brand has undoubtedly stood out as it launched its body-positive #AerieREAL campaign.
The idea was to promote authentic female body images by encouraging users to share their unretouched swim photos. For every photo created and shared, the company would then donate $1 to the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA), thus solidifying their dedication to the cause.
Why we loved it
The campaign was pure genius in how it turned the customers and prospects into active participants of the brand’s mission.
Instead of pledging to donate to NEDA straight away, Aerie cleverly tied the donations to users’ participation. That way, the latter could feel that their actions directly impacted the campaign and could thus bring the actual social change with their efforts.
Who is it for
Such campaigns will generally be suitable for brands with socially and ethically charged products, e.g., women’s clothes, eco products, cosmetics, and so on.
The main idea should be to position the campaign and the product to drive a positive social change. That way, the customers would be motivated to stand for their values and become part of a more significant social cause.
2. Taste of Home recipe contests
Taste of Home is a cooking magazine that holds regular contests for readers to submit their favorite recipes. The winners then get published in the magazine and frequently get a prize for their submission.
Why we loved it
Besides the idea of being featured in the magazine or getting a prize, a great deal of what makes these contests so useful is their appeal to the reader’s creativity.
The participants become encouraged to create something new, all while using affordable products and easy methods, thus making the whole contest creatively engaging and accessible to almost anyone – from intuitive beginners to experienced chefs.
Who is it for
Any and every type of brands whose products may involve creative use, such as: tools for artists and musicians, food products, apparel and accessories, etc.
The point to keep in mind is that such campaigns should be easy enough to enter and, if the project necessitates a lot of resources on the participant’s side, also include some form of a prize to balance out the effort.
3. Chewy‘s personalized pet drawings
A pet food retailer, among many others, Chewy stands out brightly from the competition with its ingenious use of personalization.
For example, the brand makes a handmade drawing of each of its customers’ pets, mailing it to them soon after the purchase. Whenever the pet passes away, the brand makes sure to send the customer a condolence note. And when buyers want to refund the purchase, the company does so while asking the owners to donate the food to pet shelters instead of bringing it back.
Why we loved it
The personalized experience offered by Chewy makes for an ingenious UGC campaign, seeing how passionate most of us are when it comes to pet-related content.
So with each drawing and handwritten note, the brand essentially promotes itself to hundreds of prospects on social media, as the customers are indeed likely to share their lovely gift online.
Who is it for
Such personalized campaigns are indeed not for everyone due to the sheer costliness of such a method. However, there are several types of brands that will find this approach more than worthwhile.
For one, it should pay off for the brands with high customer lifetime value (CLV), since by making recurring purchases, such customers are highly likely to compensate for all the effort in the long run. So think of pet-related products, subscription services, and so on.
Secondly, certain types of products tend to form a deep emotional connection with, e.g., music merch, baby-care products, and various niche markets. In such emotionally-colored environments, people are more likely to base their buying decisions on their relationship with the brand just as much as anything else. They’re also more likely to share the brand-related content with others, thus making for a great way to increase customer loyalty and exposure.
|Suggested reading: 8 Ways to Improve Customer Experience on Mobile|
As we’ve seen, there’s a variety of ways to use UGC. The specific approach will depend on the industry you’re set in and the limits and opportunities it offers.
However, we can identify three major categories within those UGC campaigns:
- projects with a strong social cause – Aerie‘s #AerieREAL
- creative but affordable challenges – Taste of Home recipe contests
- personalized campaigns for emotionally-charged products – Chewy‘s pet drawings
With this in mind, we hope that finding the right strategy for your UGC campaign will become a smoother and easier process for you.
Until then, stay tuned for the new updates and thank you for reading, big time!
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