A Reevoo study found that 70% of consumers place peer recommendations over professionally written content.

So it's no surprise that user-generated content is an increasingly common sight, from rich product pages in ecommerce to sourcing ideas for product development.

I was lucky enough to attend BrightonSEO recently, the world's biggest search conference with over 4,000 delegates.

Bozboz's digital content manager Sophie Turton gave us three excellent examples of brands making the most of user-generated content.

Here they are...

1. Reviews and advice: ModCloth's Style Gallery

ModCloth's Style Gallery is a community where members can share their style.

So far, they have shared 71,000 outfit photos on the platform, which have been liked over 2m times.

The ModCloth platform is a little like the retailer's own Instagram - users can create a profile, upload outfit photographs, and write reviews.

There are a number of things which makes the whole platform so effective:

  • Members can follow each other, Like other photographs or share on social.
  • Product pages are cleverly linked to from member outfit photos, making them shoppable (see images below).
  • Vice versa, community content is hosted on product pages.
  • Customer reviews include height and measurements, giving shoppers an idea of how the garments fit real women.
  • Members can add a link in their own profiles, either to their own website or social accounts. This means many bloggers and professionals have used the Style Gallery to promote their own work.
  • Members can tag 'similar' products, meaning they are not restricted from showcasing their style or making recommendations.

A member profile in the Style Gallery

mod cloth

A post with shoppable and similar products

mod cloth

A product page with user-generated content embedded

mod cloth

As this user-generated content has proliferated, a community has developed, and contributors in different countries have even met up after becoming friends through the platform.

Sophie emphasised the key points about ModCloth and its content - it’s real, visual, and the customer is centre stage.

2. Product development: Nintendo's Super Mario Maker

Nintendo's Super Mario Maker game, released September 2015, tapped into nostalgia and used customer passion as part of the brand development.

Wii U gamers have created millions of levels on Mario Maker and the game is soon to be released for the Nintendo 3DS, too.

This 3DS version of the game will allow courses to be shared over WiFi and also for players to collaborate on courses together.

The idea of handing a product over to an eager audience is a powerful one that can be transferred to any sector.

3. Competition entries: fastjet's #wefilmafrica

Fastjet is a low cost African airline.

The airline used possibly the simplest way of encouraging its community to create content - by giving away a prize. 

Plenty do this, of course, and examples in travel are numerous.

Using the hashtag #wefilmafrica, people were invited to post a 5-10 second video about their country, to show their love for Africa, with the chance of winning a holiday to Zanzibar.

This bozboz campaign for fastjet recognises that video shot on smartphones is a growing trend in Africa.

Entries were authentic and low-fi, if not exactly numerous or always the most coherent.

Still, this was a great experiment and some of the content, such as the video below, has been successfully incorporated into curated content that showcases Africa.

Thinking about the right medium and format for your audience is essential, before telling them to go out and create.

Conclusion

Where once a simple review was enough social proof to push many customers over the sales line, expectations have changed.

Video, photography, integrated communities and product development are all fair game for user-generated content.

When seamlessly part of the customer journey, they can be the lifeblood of a service, improving search and social performance, as well as usage.

Authentic content is always more likely to strike a chord - the question is, how can you inventively and effectively encourage your customers to do some of your content marketing for you.

Ben Davis

Published 12 September, 2016 by Ben Davis @ Econsultancy

Ben Davis is Editor at Econsultancy. He lives in Manchester, England. You can contact him at ben.davis@econsultancy.com, follow at @herrhuld or connect via LinkedIn.

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