In the early days of the web, brands were solely responsible for managing their own content marketing strategies. However, over the last few years, content marketing and branding have become far more collaborative. The result is a focus on user-generated content marketing.
However, some brands are reluctant to relinquish control of their content marketing strategies. They haven’t embraced user-generated content because they fear losing control of their branding message. This is a big mistake.
Your customers can be your strongest brand ambassadors. They can also help you scale your content marketing strategy far beyond what your resources would otherwise allow.
Here are some brands that have thrived off of user-generated content:
Even after 160 years in the fashion industry, Burberry is still growing. The brand’s sales have nearly quadrupled in the last decade, and in 2016, it generated over $3 billion in revenue. Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts’ user-generated content strategy has played a large role in the brand’s growth. She launched a website called Art of the Trench, which allows Burberry customers to share photos of themselves wearing the brand’s products. The site also features a miniature social network, allowing people to interact and comment on other users’ pictures. The impact of this campaign was extremely tangible—within a year of the site launch, e-commerce sales rose by 50%.
Many people are self-conscious about buying glasses, but Warby Parker gave customers a way to become social media superstars in the process. After introducing its home try-on service, the company asked customers to take pictures of their Warby Parker glasses and share them on social media with the hashtag #WarbyHomeTryOn.
Jordan Con, Marketing Manager at Inside Social, said that Warby Parker’s user-generated content both raised brand awareness and promoted its new service. “That’s two big steps in the customer journey taken care of.” Con told Skyword.
The company’s marketing strategy had other ancillary benefits. Based on the success of the #WarbyHomeTryOn campaign, Fast Company rated Warby Parker the most innovative company of 2015, an accolade which boosted brand awareness even further.
Square is a payment processing software that businesses can use to accept payments from any location. Because the company’s product relies heavily on user experience, Square encouraged customers to share testimonials of their experience with the product.
Many customers participated which helped boost brand exposure considerably. These customer reviews took many forms, including video. For example, Applicable Geek, a well-known YouTube publisher, shared a Square review video with hundreds of thousands of viewers.
There are a couple of reasons why Square review videos were so successful. First, they did an exceptional job at generating brand exposure for Square. The videos also provided a very unbiased testimonial (even including some of the drawbacks), making viewers much more likely to trust the information they got from a review than from a sponsored advertisement.
Fashion designer Marc Jacobs definitely has a knack for social media marketing. For his line Marc by Marc Jacobs, he created a very successful campaign that relied on user-generated content on Instagram.
Marc Jacobs’s Instagram campaign was different from typical user-generated marketing strategies in one key way. Jacobs offered fans a compelling incentive to participate—the chance to become a Marc Jacobs model. The campaign asked fashionistas to post Instagram videos of them discussing their fashion and beauty inspirations. All the entries were labeled with the hashtag #CastMeMarc, further amplifying the campaign.
The contest was even more popular than Jacobs anticipated. Over 70,000 people submitted entries in 2014. Because the campaign sparked so much interest, Jacobs relaunched the contest in 2016.
You Can’t Go Wrong With User-Generated Content
User-generated content can be a powerful way to get brand exposure. Don’t be worried about giving customers some influence on your brand—they already have that influence. With user-generated content, at least you have some control over the direction of your brand’s message.