4 Ways to Encourage Consumer Generated Marketing Content
Creating engaging marketing content that your customers are interested in can be time-intensive, expensive, and challenging. However, many businesses have discovered there is one easy marketing technique guaranteed to engage customers: Consumer-generated marketing.
Consumer-generated marketing is when companies use materials, graphics, and content that their customers have created to promote their business.
Turns out, your customers have a unique voice and they can be an influential advocate for your brand. Consumers trust user-generated content more than any other form of media.
In addition to promoting brand trust, consumer-generated content is cost-effective, can impact SEO, and has been known to result in higher click-through rates. On top of that, it can help you build your online presence.
If your business is looking for ways to engage customers and curate content, here are four strategies you can implement:
- Create an event
- Host a contest
- Encourage reviews
- Highlight your everyday customers
Create an Event
Events are a great way to get your customers excited about your brand. They post pictures, add hashtags, and tag locations so all of their followers can see what they’re up to. This content can then be repurposed later to promote future events as well.
A common misconception is that companies need to throw a huge party and spend a bunch of money with an event marketing team to get an event off the ground, but that’s not always the case. You can also create online, virtual, and remote events with simple promotions.
In 2015, REI made a splash with their #OptOutside campaign when they announced that they would be closed on Black Friday. Instead of reaping the benefits of the post-Thanksgiving rush to stores, the REI team asked their internal team and customers to spend time outside rather than shopping.
The campaign rippled through the community and people began posting pictures of themselves hiking, paddling, climbing, or camping right before the holiday season began.
The campaign is on-brand and promotes people using REI’s gear, apparel, and rental equipment. Years later, the hashtag #OptOutside has 17.4 million posts on Instagram.
To create your own event, identify a hashtag for social media or ask attendees to submit their photos online. Plan ahead and promote the event online to generate some buzz.
Host a Contest
Scrolling through social media, you’ve certainly seen some type of contest where a company incentivizes people to participate by offering a reward. As a go-to social media marketing strategy, many businesses rely on contests to:
- Foster community
- Incentivize followers
- Build brand awareness
- Increase subscribers
Although many companies have successfully held contests to generate consumer content, perhaps none have been as successful as Starbucks’
In 2014, Starbucks noticed that many of their customers doodled on their white paper cups. Knowing they could capitalize on this behavior, they launched the #WhiteCupContest.
They asked their customers to post pictures of their designs on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #WhiteCupContest. The winner would get their design printed on a limited edition Starbucks reusable plastic cup, a $350 gift card, and a $150,000 salaried position.
In just 3 weeks, Starbucks received 4,000 entries.
Although Starbucks spent next to nothing on the campaign, their brand name was on everybody’s minds. Starbucks was able to repost the designs on social media with the hashtag #CupOfTheDay, highlight some of their favorites, and write follow-up stories about the contest winner.
To create your own contest, first identify a reward. Make sure that it is as valuable as the work you’re going to ask your customers to do. From there, clearly outline your requirements and explain how customers can submit their entries.
While social media is one way to promote your brand through the contest, you can also have users submit essays, designs, photos, and more via email or through your website.
Orvis, for example, hosts a cover dog contest entirely through their website. Owners submit a picture of their dogs online and then voters select a winner to be featured on the Orvis Catalog’s cover. In addition to promoting their brand, this contest raises money for canine cancer research.
If you can't decide between social media vs other digital marketing channels, consider your audience and industry. Although social media fosters more engagement than other platforms, users tend to be younger. To get the most out of your campaign, consider partnering with either a digital marketing company or social media marketing consultant.
For many potential customers, the first step of the buying process is a Google search. Online reviews are highly valuable because consumers view them as objective opinions of your service or products.
Through reviews, potential customers can learn more about how previous customers viewed their interactions with your company, how happy they were with your service, and whether or not your products are worth the price.
You can promote customer reviews by:
- Adding a comments section to product pages
- Responding to your customers’ feedback directly
- Featuring reviews on your website
- Updating your Google My Business profile
Highlight Your Everyday Customers
Remember that there are many people who are creative and are posting fun, engaging content about your products or services online. They’re capable of creating viral content too.
Lean into this by sharing the one-off content that your loyal customers create. Chipotle does a great job of doing this on TikTok. If you scroll through their videos, you’ll see that they often reshare the videos their followers have posted about their products.
Many of the videos are funny, show “menu hacks,” and feature trending audio. As a result, several of their videos have several hundred thousand views. For example, this obvious Chipotle fan, @thejarr created a video naming each of the zodiac signs as a key Chipotle ingredient.
Since it was posted, the TikTok has been viewed 220K times.
Make sure your social media team keeps track of the posts that your company is being tagged in and stay engaged.
Include Consumer Generated Content in Your Marketing Strategy
Consumer-generated marketing is a cost-effective and easy way to engage your customers and increase brand awareness. Simplify your marketing strategy by curating your customers’ content.
Highlight online reviews and feature your customers’ posts to showcase what your business has to offer. To get your customers more involved, create an event or host a contest. These strategies can get your customers’ attention and encourage them to post about your brand.