user generated content campaigns

There is nothing hotter in the world of marketing right now than user generated content (UGC) campaigns. Advertising agencies and brands worldwide are trying to tap into the immense power of their fan/customer base and use their authentic and original content to power their marketing campaigns.

Take a look at ten of the best user generated content campaigns: Continue reading


We’ll be recapping the major themes we saw at SXSW this year in three installments, view Part I here and come back tomorrow for Part III.


Justin Garrity, SVP of Postano, and Kendra Bracken-Ferguson, Co-founder and COO of Digital Brand Architects, presented yesterday as part of the SXSW Interactive conference to a packed room on how brands are using user-generated content to fuel their marketing campaigns. Together they highlighted brands that are finding unique ways to leverage consumer conversations into marketing strategies and integrating user-generated content into brand building. Continue reading

Large social media display boards have become a mainstay at conferences in the past few years and for good reason. They are great for highlighting tweets and photos from conference attendees and promoting social content around shared discussions.


But without careful moderation, they are ripe for abuse.

Such was the case at the Agile2013 Conference in Nashville Tennessee this past August. The conference organizers had 5 large screens that showed tweets with #Agile2013.

A conference attendee posted to the infamous 4chan /b/ board asking fellow readers to cure his boredom by hijacking the twitter boards and tweeting ridiculous/offensive/pornographic tweets and photos using the #Agile2013 hashtag. The twitter boards were immediately filled with extremely inappropriate content for the entire conference to see.

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hashtagThe first twitter hashtag was introduced just over six years ago on August 23, 2007. Oh, how the hashtag has grown and has become a critical element of engagement for brands to promote participation.

Humble Beginnings
Hashtags had been around before 2007. IRC used them to mark topics and groups that were available across the entire network. So when #barcamp used it in 2007, it was with the same idea: find a way to span the network and quickly find something. Twitter itself caught on in 2009 when they started hyperlinking all hashtags to instantly search on that tag.

                                                  Twitter’s first hashtag

Hashtags can be used for, well, everything. They can create a way to classify posts, functioning as metatags. They are often used to end a post with a side comment or sarcastic twist. But hashtags are most powerful when they facilitate participation, joining strangers together around a central idea, or amplifying an event to a much broader audience.

Spanning the Social Networks
The recent Hood to Coast relay demonstrates how an event can span across several social networks. Using the NIKE running app, you can comment on a Facebook post and the runner’s phone will chirp as you root them on. Friends are checking in at rural high schools at the foot of the Coast Range. Instagram was a popular choice to capture the gorgeous sunrise at the chilly start at Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood. And there were countless Vines of teammates hollering at runners as they sprinted downhill for the first four miles of the race (ouch!).


And yet, just by participants dropping an #htc13 hashtag on their posts, Hood To Coast teams enabled their posts to be part of a shared conversation online. Postano tied all this together with a social hub that made it easy to follow the race on mobile devices and on the web at home or at work. At Postano’s office in Portland, the social command center wall tracked all the action across 8 large HD displays. Seeing the events unfold with realtime media updates throughout the day from multiple perspectives and teams generated a whole new real-time news experience that focused more on mood and sentiment.

Strengthen the Brand
Taglines make great hashtags. NIKE’s mantra hashtag #skateeverydamnday is brilliant and evocative. Originally launched as part of a campaign in the summer of 2012, it continued to expand building a life of its own. Over a million Tweets and Instagram posts have been tagged with this hashtag and has been translated into many languages for use around the world.  It stands for something and connects so many strangers with a similar core believe together.
A great tagline interpreted through a hashtag can be inspiring. Questions, statements, and dares are all fair game to get people participating.

An Invitation to Participate
In interior design, people use “mood boards” to help guide their design choices. By putting together different photos, wall papers, colors, furniture, lights, plants, and textures, you get a sense of what the room can be. With hashtag campaigns, brands can create a “mood board” around ideas. Kenneth Cole, with its 30 Years Bold campaign, has recently launched an experience around three separate but related ideas, #BoldFashion, #BoldExperience, and #BoldStatements.


As part of this campaign, Kenneth Cole is asking fans to tag posts via Twitter and Instagram leveraging one of these hashtags. Winners will be chosen and prizes given to the posts that best exemplify these ideas. Not only are each of the Postano boards unique for each idea, so are the prizes.

Postano can pull together different posts leveraging a common hashtag for a brand or an event. It can even pull together posts not featuring a hashtag and blend them into the board. It can show people the overall mood and look in ways that simple counting posts and likes cannot. (And since you have incredibly powerful moderation tools with Postano, you can shape the mood to something that fits with your goals.)

The hashtag spans across social networks, and lets you show people a different perspective of a movement or a meme. That, in turn, can reinforce your brand or take it to new places. #cool.

sports and social mediaFall is in the air, and with it comes the nation’s annual rite of pageantry and mayhem known as the college football season, which kicks off this Saturday and is sure to be a spectacle across multiple media – including digital and social.

Social media has been a game-changer for all kinds of businesses. This is especially true for sports teams, who seek to deliver real-time engagement with sports fans eager for interaction. Like major consumer brands, many sports organizations have already tapped into the power of social media in order to increase fan loyalty and deliver a significant return on investment.

With this in mind, major collegiate organizations have been learning how channel these dedicated, vocal and emotional fans on social media and leveraging the passion they share on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other social networks. Turning that loyalty into ticket, memorabilia and other sales makes it essential for sports organizations to not only be present on social, but also to use fan-generated content to further these goals.

It’s no longer enough to simply push promotions out to social media and passively read what fans are saying. The real opportunity is to channel these interactions into a productive digital activation. Collegiate sports brands must create a powerful feedback loop of interaction between the sports organization and its fans that builds community and engagement.

Embracing Social as a Marketing Channel

It’s hard to imagine that just a few short years ago (in 2009), the SEC actually considered banning social media at sporting events, before adopting a much more realistic and beneficial not-for-profit social media policy – allowing fans to post updates and pictures, as long as they made no money doing so.

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talking2Despite being talked about by marketers for the better part of the last 5 years, social media marketing is just now reaching a point of maturation for many of the large brands. What started with strategies of simply figuring out what to post to get the most likes and followers, many brands are now looking to how they can fully embrace the various social platforms to truly connect with customers and drive sales and revenue. And brand loyalty.

Today’s major question posed by marketers using social is not “how do I get the most likes?”, but rather “how do I connect and engage with consumers in a meaningful way that helps business objectives?”.

In today’s marketing landscape, not only does a brand’s content, advertising and marketing materials have to connect to its audience, it has to inspire that audience to share it, talk about it, and in some cases, participate in the campaign.

Does a campaign become more credible and authentic once the consumer is involved?

It seems the resounding answer has been yes.


Creating Inherently Social Campaigns

Many of today’s leading brands realize the need to provide tools for the consumer to take action and participate in their campaigns. It’s not enough to simply promote your own message and creative materials, you have to get your target consumers to also contribute their own content, thoughts and ideas to the campaign.

Amplifying marketing messages and campaigns involves designing your marketing activities to have an inherently social motivator that inspires broader engagement and sharing – which, ultimately, is what ensures success for any campaign efforts.

This means much more than planning a marketing campaign and then thinking that “let’s do something social.” In today’s marketing landscape, simply uploading a television commercial to YouTube is not enough.

Designing consumer-led and driven campaigns that are inherently social means that the core concepts for campaigns must invite customers to share and participate in an experience.

This could mean something as simple as encouraging conversation centered around a branded hashtag (read my 12 tips for effective Twitter hashtag marketing  and 6 Cross-Platform Hashtag Marketing Campaigns) to sourcing content from your community to be used in marketing materials and ecommerce pages.

By doing so, this gives the consumer the opportunity to extend the branded campaign far beyond the initial post or promotion efforts. By offering experiences that customers WANT to participate in, brands have the opportunity to greatly expand the reach of their own marketing efforts – without spending additional budget on media buys and spend.

As brands incorporate social content into all aspects of marketing campaigns this has created an environment where digital marketing has evolved into a customer-led conversation. The fact is, consumers are more likely to believe the review or online endorsement of another consumer over a brand-released marketing message.
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user-generated content As social media marketing has matured, and more and more brands have found ways to use the various social platforms to amplify their message, the importance brands incorporating user-generated content into marketing campaigns has become paramount.

The question many marketers have been asking is: Does a campaign become more credible and authentic once the consumer is involved?

It seems the resounding answer has been yes.

Many of today’s marketers working for top brands realize the need to provide tools for the consumer to take action and participate in their campaigns. It’s not enough to simply promote your own message and creative, you have to get your target consumers to also contribute their content, thoughts and ideas to the campaign in order for it to be truly successful.


Eliciting Consumers to Participate in Campaigns

And as incorporating social content into all aspects of marketing campaigns (read my post on cross-platform hashtag campaigns) has become unquestionable, digital marketing has evolved into a customer-led conversation. The fact is, consumers are more likely to believe the review or endorsement of another consumer over a brand-released marketing message.

As a result, it has become more important than ever for brands to listen to online conversation and continually monitor what people are posting and saying about their brand. However, simply listening is no longer enough. As I write in “How Social Media Marketing Has Changed in the Last 5 Years,” businesses have been rethinking how to incorporate social into every part of their operations – and have been finding creative ways to incorporate user-generated content into their marketing efforts. Has

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Guess recently used Postano to launch their #GuessRocks music festival campaign, which aimed to kickoff their new Festival Collection clothing line. Using the Postano Platform, Guess showcased dynamic displays at SXSW and Coachella, which aggregated buzz and encouraged engagement from participants at the events.

Guess also used Postano displays at several Guess retail locations around the U.S. and on the Guess website as a social hub for the campaign. Fan reaction was incredible and helped to truly tie together the events, retail locations and the website in a social and dynamic way.

Here’s a deeper look at how Guess used Postano to help power the campaign:

#GuessRocks at SXSW

aggregate and display social mediaAt SXSW in Austin this year, Guess hosted a pool party where they had multiple screens projecting animated Postano visualizations, featuring aggregated the hashtag #GuessRocks.

The team at Guess also partnered with popular fashion blogger Natalie Suarez of @NatalieOffDuty to share her fashion adventures at SXSW. Her content was then displayed alongside the other SXSW and #GuessRocks social content.

>>Find out more about Postano for Events

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consumer generated mediaThe emergence of social media several years ago changed the way brands communicated with and to consumers – forcing them to completely change their approach to marketing products and services not only online, but offline as well.

The vast networks of people who participate on various social platforms has made it possible for one person to communicate with hundreds or even thousands of other people about products and companies. As you’d imagine, this emergence of consumer-to-consumer communications has been greatly magnified in the marketplace – and become an essential piece of the marketing puzzle for brands.

As I’ve written before, your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room, which is why finding unique ways to leverage these consumer conversations into marketing strategies is essential and integrating user-generated content is an important component of brand building.

Unlike traditional marketing communications, where brands and marketing managers had a high degree of control, today’s marketers have to learn how to best leverage and shape consumer discussions and generated media. In recent months, more and more brands have realized the power in using consumer-generated media from social networks to help power their campaigns (read “10 Great Examples of User-Generated Content Campaigns”).

The power of sourcing user-generated content has not been lost on many of the major brands and agencies. In last year’s Super Bowl, half of the national advertisements mentioned a Twitter hashtag in the ad (encouraging viewers to participate in the conversation well after the ad aired).

In fact, many major brands are not only incorporating consumer content into their websites, billboards and television commercials, but are also using it on ecommerce pages and in retail displays.

Here are some examples of innovative brands using consumer-generated media to help propel their marketing campaigns, drive awareness and increase sales:

Keen – Letting Consumers to Fuel a Campaign

Keen and their agency North was recently nominated for a SoMe Award for their campaign for Worldwide Recess Day.  The campaign encouraged people to take 10 minutes to get outside and move, and aimed to amplify awareness of the Keen brand and social media channels, as well as drive traffic and sales through their website.

Keen encouraged people to upload photos and tweets with the hashtag #Take10, and then aggregated all of that social content on a hub page using Postano.

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social media command centerSeeing is believing, and here at Postano we think visualizing social content could very well be the missing link between the adoption of social throughout an organization. It can also help power marketing efforts and campaigns, and give powerful insights into what your customers are saying about you and your brand in the social realm.

Information is power, but with some companies attempting to manage dozens or hundreds of social media profiles across various networks, keeping track of what your own team, affiliates, retailers and what others are saying on social channels can be a huge challenge.

Enter the social media command center, where visual displays can help showcase a wide variety of social content – organized by brand, location, content source and more.

A social media command center allows organizations, departments and teams the ability to monitor, measure and react to all online activity in real-time, driving internal and external visibility for your company’s social initiatives.

A command center can also activate and coordinate company-wide social resources and activities and provide real-time, actionable data for informed decision-making to optimize performance.

>>Learn more about how you can build a visual social media command center with Postano for Monitoring 

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