The 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.
By asking their consumers to participate in the campaign, it had a much wider reaching effect, gaining exposure through the networks of existing fans and followers (credit perna). The campaign was a huge success, which included gaining Keen 20,000 new Instagram followers and 3.5 new Pinterest followers.
Gerber – Bringing Consumer-Generated Content to Life on a Website
Doing so also helps you establish your brand. As Frank Strong writes in “Why Content Marketing is the New Branding,” brands are built over time by “third-party validation communicated through third-party content.” A brand is not built based around logo or advertising or taglines, but rather by what OTHER people say about your product or services. Bringing this concept to a company website seems like a natural evolution.
As we see more and more brands rolling out innovative hashtag campaigns and asking for their consumers to participate in their marketing campaigns, we’ll also see more brands integrating the conversation back into their websites and owned properties.
This includes Gerber, a knife company, which asks it’s fans to tweet and Instagram photos with the hashtag #HelloTrouble, which they then aggregate, curate and display on their website using Postano Hub.
Nine West – Bringing Consumer-Generated Content to the Retail Environment
Incorporating social and consumer-generated media as part of the customer experience in the retail environment is also a growing trend. It has been well-documented that social media is a powerful influencer in consumer decision making. Combining this into one cohesive strategy can not only enforce branding and enrich the overall shopping experience, but can also drive revenue and sales.
Today, more and more retailers are beginning to recognize and reap the benefits of using digital displays as part of an effort to cultivate in-store retail experiences. Users are still interacting with digital media via their mobile devices while taking part in the shopping experience. These touch points offer lower-funnel access to consumers for brands in close proximity to the purchase decision.
With more and more retailers and brands extending their consumer messaging through social and digital channels, combining mobile, social and digital signage into the retail experience a natural evolution.
Nine West has integrated social media and digital displays as a primary part of the shopping experience at their flagship location on Lexington Avenue in New York City. (See photos of the retail displays).
Nine West’s social displays, which feature consumer-generated imagery, help give shoppers context around their products. For example, it allows shoppers to see ideas from other consumers on HOW to wear the same shoes they are shopping for in the store. Seeing the shoes on fellow consumers displayed and paired with outfits alongside the item in-store helps inspire shoppers, drive engagement and increase sales.