Last month, we gave you the basics on a marketing trend that is bringing brands and their customers closer together: user-generated content. (This is content that your customers create in support of and to celebrate your brand and products.) They can be photos, videos, awesome reviews — the possibilities are endless. And since the content comes from people outside of your company, any claims made are seen as more credible and honest.
Companies that are adding user-generated content to their marketing strategy are seeing greater brand engagement, higher customer loyalty, and lower overall costs. Bet that’s got you interested in user-generated content.
But, as with most marketing trends, there’s a right way to approach user-generated content, and there’s a wrong way. To help you see where those lines are, let’s look at brands that are killing the user-generated content game.
Apple – #ShotoniPhone
What they did
In 2017, Apple launched its Instagram account, @apple. The decision seemed like a no-brainer. Instagram reports that there are over 500 million active users every day, and 80 percent of users follow businesses on the platform. According to Statista, 33 percent of Instagram users are between 25 and 34 years old, a key demographic for Apple. Joining the platform would put Apple and its products in front of its target audience.
One problem: a profile filled with pictures of iPhones and MacBooks isn’t very exciting.
As a solution, Apple decided to use their Instagram profile as part of their #ShotoniPhone campaign. They actively invited their customers to share pictures they took with their phones and submit them using #ShotoniPhone. Apple then posts the best pics on their Instagram account.
Why it’s awesome
There’s so much I love about this campaign. For one thing, it inherently celebrates diversity and gives followers a beautiful look at the world.
There are pictures of an old man walking a horse through the Zoji La pass in India. In one photo, zig-zagging clotheslines hang above an alley, the colorful clothes contrasting against a blue sky. And my personal favorite, an image of two pigeons under a disco ball exclaiming that the bird species isn’t “the rat of the sky,” but a smart and strong animal we should appreciate more.
Additionally, #ShotoniPhone takes on one of the biggest skepticisms about iPhone cameras head-on. Most people see the images featured in Apple’s paid advertisements and think that there’s no way ordinary people can take photos of the same quality. This campaign proves what the brand claims is true, but in a way that gives credit to their customers and their creative eyes.
The Try Guys – The Barkchsler
What they did
If you don’t know who The Try Guys are, finish this article, then spend the rest of your day on their YouTube channel. In a time when so many of us are trying to find ways to be allies and combat toxic masculinity in a way that doesn’t leave us clinically depressed, these four gentlemen make hilarious content that challenges the norms.
In one particularly adorable video series, the guys held a contest similar to the TV show The Bachelor, but for dogs. In The Barkchsler (admittedly not the easiest title to spell or pronounce) Try Guys fans were asked to create videos of their dog and share them on social media with #TheBarkchsler. In a series of four videos, one of the Try guys, Keith, then watched and reviewed the dogs, eventually narrowing the field down to four finalists. These dogs then had a week to create content on Instagram to see who was worthy of winning The Barkchsler.
Why it’s awesome
First off: dogs. Dogs are always a welcome addition to digital content.
But also, The Barkchsler was a cute way for The Try Guys to create new channels to spread their brand. Since leaving Buzzfeed last year and starting their own company, Keith, Ned, Zach, and Eugene have been working hard to transition their fan base, while expanding their followers.
Because of The Barkchsler, they had a ton of user-created content that led people back to their videos. By the end of the contest, the top four dogs (Missoni, Kenny, Koda, and Charles Avacado) each had between 30,000 and 74,000 followers on Instagram. Granted, some of those followers were already fans of The Try Guys, but not all of them. Plus, by making The Barkchsler a competition, The Try Guys engaged their users while having a steady stream of new user-generated content for them to watch.
BBC – Meet the Guests
What they did
For last years Royal Wedding, BBC partnered with Seenit to share content created by the event’s guests. But it wasn’t celebs and royalty who took part. The campaign used content from several ordinary British citizens who were invited to the wedding.
These people were all extended invites because of their charity and activism. They created videos about traveling to and attending the wedding of the century. The BBC then compiled and shared the content as part of their coverage of the event.
Why it’s awesome
As much as we all loved the pageantry and elegance of the Royal Wedding, it’s not exactly the most relatable event. No matter how often you fantasize about marrying a prince or princess, it’s difficult to tie the idea to real life.
With this campaign, the BBC was able to make a stronger connection between the Royal Wedding and regular people. By looking through these guests’ eyes, we were no longer outsiders looking in. This user-generated content gave people around the world a new way to watch and experience the event being covered by the BBC.
Honorable Mention: Kelly Clarkson – Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)
Granted, Clarkson’s video for Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You) came out at the end of 2011, so it’s not exactly a new example of user-generated content. But it will always hold a special place in my heart of a great example of how fans and followers can become a part of something they love.
About a month before the video was set to premiere, Clarkson put out a call to her fans. She posted a video teaching a routine for the song and then asked people to record themselves doing the dance in unique locations. Select videos were later incorporated into music videos.
This gave fans from all over the world the chance to actually be in a music video with an international pop star. Of course, anyone who submitted a dance video watched the final version to see if they made the cut. Talk about a way to create a guaranteed audience for your content.