Word of mouth and referral marketing has always been the holy grail of marketing ROI. I mean, having actual trusted customers recommend your brand, product, or service in an autonomous fashion doesn’t really get any better as a business owner or marketer.
Since the inception of social media, the “word of mouth factor” has been changing mediums from face to face interactions, to digital channels, most notably social media platforms. The past few years have probably seen the steepest increase in the power of social sharing and influence as a result of the “selfie” becoming the new ultimate form of self expression.
The benefits of user generated content (UGC) are plenty and there is hard science to back it up, so how do you gently nudge your most loyal, evangelical customers to the point of brand engagement through social media content creation, and achieve that holy grail of advertising.
Whether you are a business owner, solopreneur, or marketer, we can all use some motivation and inspiration from time to time, so here is a list of some of our favorite examples of brands that used and leveraged UGC effectively.
1.Lifestyle Promotion by Lululemon
Do you have a passionate, devoted following of customers like Lululemon? Using their Instagram page as a catalyst, Lululemon launched #thesweatlife campaign, where they encouraged customers to share photos of themselves exercising or being active in their lululemon gear using the #thesweatlife.
Lululemon sells a lifestyle of being fit and active that comes along with their brand, and by encouraging their customers to publicly share in that lifestyle, they were able to create a form of social currency among their customers by showing their images on their website.
So What can we Learn from Lululemon?
- Encourage your customers to share content with your product/service or engaging with your product/service that also involves the lifestyle you are selling.
- Know how to properly leverage “social currency” by rewarding your customers for their content creation with prizes or incentives and/or by acknowledging them and their content publicly.
2. Share a Coke With….
In a highly competitive market, Coca-Cola wanted to keep their brand at the front of consumer’s mind, and their means of doing this was the “Share a Coke” program. The company produced bottles of coke with people’s names on them and handed them out in cities all over the country.
They then urged recipients of the special Coke bottles to share images on Twitter and other social media platforms as a means of increasing the exposure of the campaign.
For a decade prior to the campaign, Coca-Cola had decreasing revenues, but after the campaign launched, Coca-Cola saw a 2% increase in U.S. revenues, which they attributed to the success of the campaign.
So why was the “Share a Coke” Campaign so Successful?
- They made sharing personal. To reference the term “social currency” again, there is added value to someone when they share something that is personal or highly specific to them. If Coca-Cola came up with a “Share a Coke” campaign but made nothing personal about it, it in all likelihood, would’ve been a disaster as there was no added social incentive to share a Coke.
- By encouraging recipients to share images of their bottles they received on social media they created awareness. When individuals see their peers engaging with something or doing something, especially online, they will subconsciously mimic them or desire the same things.
3. Coffee for Less Wants to Know What you Think
Coffee for Less, came to the realization that organic search traffic was much more likely to convert, and that focusing on user generated content would be the most effective way to improve it’s SEO efforts and overall organic traffic generation. Realizing this, they made a decision to improve the experience on their website by making it easier for users to view and post comments.
In a 3 year span, the website accumulated about 6,000 comments, and according to research done by Marketing Sherpa, the dramatically increased number of reviews boosted traffic by 10%, and most notably, conversions by 125%.
What can we takeaway from Coffee for Less’ strategy?
Coffee for Less made two very important realizations that we can all take from:
- The more you can increase your organic traffic, the higher rate of conversions you will have.
- User Generated Content is the most critical component in driving organic traffic.
The psychology of why their strategy worked:
There are no shortage of options in the market today for any number of things, including purchasing coffee online. As a result of a marketplace that is flooded with options, consumers are more empowered and savvy than ever before. This means that consumers want to feel autonomous and empowered in their decision making process and don’t want to feel as though they are being “sold”.
When Coffee for Less turned their focus to organic traffic, they were then sending consumers to their website in a more autonomous fashion, which makes them feel more empowered in their decision making process, making them more likely to purchase or “convert”.
Secondly, by improving the user experience of their website, most notably to increase the sharing of comments, they further empowered those same consumers who were going to their website in an autonomous fashion, with information on the products from the crowd, which is a much more highly trusted source than the brand or company itself.
4. Encourage Storytelling Like T-Mobile
T-Mobile saw massive success with their “Break Up Letter” campaign. They offered the customers of their competitors an easy opportunity to break up with their current provider. This wasn’t a verbal break up however, customers had to submit an actual break up letter to T-Mobile stating why they were breaking up with their current provider, and in doing so, T-Mobile offered to pay their termination fees allowing them to make the switch easily and cost free.
The results were incredible, 80,000 people submitted break up letters and made the switch to T-Mobile.
The Ancillary Benefit of Incentivizing your Customers to Storytell
Not only was this campaign fun and engaging, but T-Mobile received 80,000 real examples of what their competitors did wrong. As a result of this campaign, not only did they gain 80,000 new subscribers, (which in and of itself is a huge victory) but they gained valuable insight into their customers needs and desires.
5. Propose to Pizza Hut?
Pizza Hut ran a great Valentine’s Day campaign called #CommitToGreatness, where they asked customers to propose to them on Instagram. To take it a step further, they even created an OKCupid profile.
By piggy-backing off the spirit of the holiday, Pizza Hut was able to get their best customers to engage with them in a fun and unique way that created extra buzz around the brand.
How Pizza Hut used UGC to Create More Brand Loyalty
This campaign was brilliant in the way it built customer loyalty. A customer who publicly vouches for your brand in an autonomous fashion, will, by default, become an even more loyal customer. So by publicly “committing” to Pizza Hut, that was a public statement of their loyalty to Pizza Hut. It’s a subconscious, psychological driver that is often referred to as an investment. Whenever you can get your customers to “invest” further in your brand, as Pizza Hut did by asking them to publicly propose to them, you are creating a stronger bond, which creates more loyalty and evangelism for the brand.
Why is UGC so effective?
Consumers are savvy, and they trust the online content of their peers when making purchasing decisions far more than they do the content of said brand(s).
By encouraging or incentivizing your customers to engage with your brand and create tremendous, positive content, you are building trust within them, which creates more loyalty.
When consumers engage with UGC, they know the content was created in an autonomous fashion. Even if they were incentivized to do so, the trust and autonomy is still there, because their peers know that the content was created by a true fan, because we simply do not engage with brands or products we don’t like or use. This higher level of trust in the content increases conversion rates.
Because of the greater level of trust in the content, peers are more likely to engage with it, which then has a greater impact on your organic traffic, which will also increase your conversion rates.
3 Quick Takeaways from the Campaigns
Although each campaign was unique in it’s own way, there were 3 consistencies of every campaign:
- The brands promoted the campaign on their own social media and websites to increase exposure
- Consumers were offered some kind of prize or incentive by the brands for participating. It varied from public recognition (social currency), to money saving offers, to actual product.
- All campaigns focused on leveraging their customers to present their product in a positive fashion.
Have you run a successful UGC campaign? Please let us know about in the comments section and by tweeting at us @getchitter.
If you’d like to learn more about how you can use technology to improve UGC campaigns, CLICK HERE