First off, what is user-generated content? Essentially it’s content which was created by unpaid contributors and can be anything from pictures and videos to testimonials and submissions. For example, your business can create a #hashtag that can be used by consumers to post their own content using your product/service onto their social media. Another way of utilizing user-generated content is through setting up a contest among consumers, like having them design something that will be featured in next year’s line of clothes. User-generated content is successful because in today’s world people are more likely to trust a fellow consumer over the brand itself, plus giving consumers a platform to be creative within a brand they like drives engagement.
To get a better idea of what successful user-generated content campaigns look like, let's view some examples;
Lays “Do Us A Flavor”
Back in 2013, Lay’s launched their ‘Do Us a Flavor’ campaign in hopes to increase consumer engagement. Consumers were able to submit their ideas on potential chip flavors and then the highest voted flavors would go into production along with grand prizes for the winners. The contest proved to be extremely successful and was relaunched in the years following, each time receiving countless amounts of submissions with 3-4 finalist.
Aerie is another brand that took part of user-generated content back in 2014 with their #AerieREAL campaign. This campaign featured ads of all unairbrushed models and stated they are “challenging supermodel standards by featuring unretouched models in their latest collection of bras, undies, and apparel.” The initial ads sparked a flood of user-generated content where consumers were sharing their own pictures while wearing Aerie products and using #AerieREAL.
Loews Hotels #TravelForReal
Launched in 2015, Loews #TravelForReal campaign used social content to advertise digitally and on print. Instead of hiring actors/models to portray guests they instead turned to photos that actual guests have already posted on social media outlets. Real guests shared pictures of various Loews Hotel properties which captured the true essence of each one and instilled social proof for future guests to see exactly what they get when booking with Lowes.
Through these three examples, we can see User-generated content being enacted in various ways; the Lay's "Do Us A Flavor" campaign allowed for consumers to get creative and have a chance for their idea to be put into production and sold around the country, through Aeires #AerieREAL campaign we saw consumers being inspired which resulted in a trending hashtag where consumers engaged through posting their own photos, and with Loews Hotel #TravelForReal campaign we saw how actual guests were incorporated into their advertising which solidified authenticity and showed consumers what their hotels really stand for.
So it's clear that when user-generated campaigns are done properly they can shine an extremely positive and authentic light onto a business. In the world of social media, consumers are looking to see authenticity, and there’s no better way of showcasing this than having the users themselves share why they love a brand/business.