Thursday, July 14th, 2016 | 7 min read
Back in 2009, Burberry brought high-end fashion to the masses with its groundbreaking Art of the Trench campaign. To celebrate its iconic trench coat, the brand invited the public to upload pictures of people donning the retailer’s best-selling item. All Burberry had to do was curate the best submissions on the company’s microsite and Facebook page. From there, users could browse by category, and comment on or share the images with their friends.
As a result of the campaign, Burberry’s Facebook follower count grew to over one million—the largest fan base in the luxury sector at the time. E-commerce sales also jumped 50% year-over-year. In fact, the campaign was so successful that it was relaunched in 2014 to generate buzz for Burberry’s new Beverly Hills store. This new iteration stretched to the brand’s Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, and Tumblr.
With a simple, singular idea, Burberry was able to drive traffic to its platforms and generate awareness among new audiences.
The brand hasn’t been alone in finding success with user-generated content. According to Offerpop, 65% of brands believe user-generated content is more influential than brand videos and photos, and 85% of consumers find visual user-generated content more influential than brand videos and photos.
The question is: Why? What makes user-generated content so compelling for both brands and consumers? And why might your marketing team want to try this strategy?
Here are three of the biggest reasons.
While it’s easy to get hung up on creating high-quality content, it’s important to remember that sometimes a shaky YouTube video can actually convert better than a million-dollar ad campaign. That’s because for today’s consumers, authenticity is much more important than looking professional.
As a study from Cohn & Wolfe found, 63% of consumers would buy from a company they consider to be authentic over and above its competitors. And according to Elite Daily, 43% of millennials rank authenticity above the content itself when consuming news. Then again, if you’re committed to producing polished content, don’t forget that many of today’s consumers are armed with smartphones and mobile devices that can take high-quality photos with a simple tap.
With user-generated content, your customers can take note of how people use your products and share their passion for the brand. Take the Burberry example above. While the photos do look quite sleek, users know they’re not just being fed a corporate product catalogue, and they can appreciate that the images are taken by everyday customers just like themselves.
Sometimes it’s cheaper to create hundreds of pieces of user-generated content than it is to create one piece of content in-house. With user-generated content, your customers are creating the assets for you, and bringing in their own audiences as a result.
In 2014, The ALS Association was swept up in one of the largest and most successful user-generated content campaigns to date. You might know it better as the Ice Bucket Challenge. The setup was simple: Post a social video of someone dumping a bucket of ice water on your head, and then challenge friends to either do the same or donate to the organization. The challenge quickly snowballed into a viral meme, raising awareness for the charity and generating over $100 million from nearly 3 million new donors.
The best part of the whole thing was that The ALS Association didn’t have to break the bank to go viral. In fact, they didn’t even create the challenge. It was started by pro athletes who wanted to bring attention to the cause.
Since user-generated content isn’t created on owned media properties, it can seem daunting to track and measure. If you don’t have the right tools in place to understand the effectiveness of your program, your budget may suffer because you won’t know how much money to invest in the initiative.
You can solve this problem by using a trackable link that connects every single channel. For instance, HP teamed up with influencer Rudy Mancuso to remake the Star Wars theme song using the HP x360. Rudy then posted his video to his 350,000 Instagram followers, inviting viewers to see more by clicking the link in @HP’s bio.
By shortening and tracking that link through Bit.ly, HP was able to see just how many conversions came from its Instagram bio. With urchin tracking module (UTM) codes, the company could also see where each clicker came from.
This is especially useful for brands working with multiple partners promoting across various channels. Through trackable links, they can see not only which influencer drives the best results, but also which of their channels drives the best results and how much engagement is generated from each. The images below show how one brand collaborated with influencers to promote app downloads and then used bit.ly to track the results.
User-generated content can live anywhere, and it travels fast. As long as you have a link, you can have a solid metric on which to base the effectiveness of your campaign.
Customers crave authenticity, and marketers are always looking for new ways to expand their reach. That’s where user-generated content can help. By calling on your customers to produce their own content, you can easily decrease costs and still engage with your audience in new ways.
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