The Upsides to User-Generated Content

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Posted by Erin Schroeder, Copywriter & Online Specialist

Some of the most memorable ads we’ve been introduced to incorporate elements like high-tech special effects, complex video shoots and celebrity cameos.

But these costly campaigns are starting to be supplemented – and sometimes even totally replaced – with a different approach that is much simpler and a lot more affordable: user-generated content.

It’s a concept many big-name brands have been testing for a while now and one that they’re having some great success with.

A Trend with Traction
Consider Burberry. Back in 2009, the British fashion house first launched the “Art of the Trench” campaign that asked people to submit photos of themselves wearing their favorite trench coats from the luxury label. This remains a highlight section of the Burberry site five years later and still includes an invitation for visitors to submit their pictures.

Sure, the user-generated approach to content was a logical fit in the fashion realm, but it has continued to catch on in other industries in all kinds of fun and creative ways.

A few of the more recent examples include the “White Cup Contest” from Starbucks that asked customers to design their own coffee cups and post them to Instagram or Twitter as well as Coca-Cola’s current “Share a Coke” campaign that encourages participants to share their soda-loving selfies.

Perhaps the company with one of the most exciting user-generated campaigns right now, GoPro is getting a lot of attention for its customer-created videos that are popping up online. The manufacturer of self-mounted cameras has even added its own YouTube channel where people can see clips of divers to snowboarders adventuring with their tiny cameras in action.

Why the Growing Popularity?
So why is user-generated content such a big deal these days? The answer seems to be a combination of things.

First, people can relate to this content and they like that it feels so genuine. There’s no scripted dialogue going on between actors, and consumers are captivated by the chance of getting a glimpse into someone’s real life.

It’s also cost-effective. Information reported on GoPro showed that the company increased its marketing budget by just $41,000 in 2013 and upped its net income by $28 million in the same year. How is this possible? A campaign focused on user-generated content can drastically cut expenses since much of the work – including production – is already done.

Plus, with all the latest technology available, we’ve transitioned to a time when the quality of user content has improved significantly and is much more functional.

How about your company? Are there any opportunities for you to take advantage of user-generated content and launch a photo sharing project, fun contest or other campaign?

If current examples serve as any indicator, you could have a successful strategy on your hands.

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