Article

Gillian Ivory
Gillian Ivory 20 February 2015

Why User Generated Content Is Marketing Gold

Now that everyone can be a broadcaster, brands are asking customers to throw their hats into the ring.

In a world of selfies and social media madness, why not harness the universal content creation craze and build your brand in the process?



User generated content (or UGC), as a concept, isn’t a new kid on the block, but it is a rapidly growing trend employed by marketers across a variety of sectors.

Now that everyone can be a broadcaster, brands are seizing the opportunity and asking customers to throw their hats into the ring. Encouraging your target audience to contribute positive experiences around your product is one of the latest marketing norms. From there, the challenge is to maximise its value.

WHY ASK CUSTOMERS TO CONTRIBUTE THEIR OWN CONTENT?
Designed with flair, a UGC campaign can: - foster engagement with new and existing customers - build relationships and brand loyalty - encourage customers to market on your behalf - lead to direct sales - gather the much-needed customer data we’re all after SO WHO DOES IT WELL?

The travel sector is ripe for successful user generated content campaigns. Looking at three good examples, let’s start with the king of UGC - TripAdvisor.

 

TripAdvisor

TripAdvisor (whose foundations are based on user generated reviews). Tripadvisor – ‘Don’t Just Visit’ Tripadvisor knows how to take a few risks and to make the results look slick.

Last year the company ran a hugely innovative campaign inviting users to create TV ads for them. They had already run a series of professionally made ads under a ‘Don’t Just Visit’ banner, and to boost the effectiveness of these, they asked their fan base to submit a 15 second video showcasing the benefits of using TripAdvisor. Offering a $25,000 bonanza for the winner and $10,000 for the runners-up made it a hit from the start, with entries flocking in from amateur and professional video makers alike. Denver-based film makers Jason Graisa and Curt Donahue took home the trophy for their Fargo piece. In fact, these two were pros, and this was the first film they produced during the start-up stage of their production company. TripAdvisor aired it for two weeks on national television – a nice credit if you’re touting for this kind of business! Take a peek. It’s high up there in the entertainment stakes, and effective from an advertising point of view.

EUROSTAR - STORIES
Next up is Eurostar. How does a railway provider make its product look and feel more glam? Well this outfit has pulled it off, convincing scores of customers to contribute their own take on what’s great about the destinations in which it operates. The gallery of photos, stories and videos from users exploring Paris, London and Brussels is impressive. Customers have compiled material about their favourite places, using hashtags #wheninparis #wheninlondon and #wheninbrussels.

The results appear on the Eurostar website and have graced the channels of social media, with a fabulous line-up of visuals of the moving and still variety. Content ranges from quirky photos (the Lido at Tooting Beck London) to fun three-minute videos (secrets of Paris) and plenty in between.

Tourism Ireland – #LoveDublin #LoveBelfast
One of the best ways to harness customer input is to ask for it on social media. Tourism Ireland’s August 2014 campaign was designed to target ‘social energisers’ - a key audience for the organisation. Two short films showcasing Dublin and Belfast captured the best sights the cities have to offer, with a quirky challenge thrown into the end of each. Hosted on YouTube, the videos were followed by a quiz for users to complete and share the results across social media. In the first film, given the hashtag #LoveDublin, 8 couples share a kiss – half of them are genuine pairs while the rest have never met before. Users had to guess the difference.

The second piece, #LoveBelfast, created a Film versus App challenge. Users were asked to guess which images were taken with a regular smartphone and filtered on an app, which had been shot with a vintage camera, and to share the results with friends. With quiz scores flying around social channels, word has it the agency was pretty chuffed with the campaign’s success.

Takeaways
For more examples of great UGC campaigns take a peek at what GoPRo has done or read about REI’s 1440 project.

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