User-generated content is certainly not a new marketing strategy, but it appears to be enjoying a renaissance.

UGC – which refers to any kind of content created by a customer and used by a business – helps brands to build an immediate sense of authenticity.

Unlike online reviews – which can easily be faked, biased, or skewed by an algorithm – user generated content is often visual and tied to a social media account – therefore more trustworthy.

And with UGC’s grown-up cousin, influencer marketing, facing scrutiny over its lack of regulation towards influencers and how they disclose paid-for ads, is it any wonder brands are reverting back to user-generated content?

Using the genuine reactions and opinions of happy customers is a great way to build credibility and trust, as well as drive customer retention.

Here are just six examples of brands creatively incorporating UGC into their social strategies.

BBC

Harry and Meghan’s Royal Wedding was a huge coup for the BBC, with the broadcaster rolling out extensive coverage on TV and radio, as well as related programming in the run-up to the day itself.

User generated content also played a part in the coverage, with the BBC inviting fifty members of the public to document their own experience of the wedding and share it across social media.

With royal weddings typically thought of as an exclusive and solely ‘royal’ affair, the ‘Meet the Guests’ campaign aimed to showcase a different side – namely the 1,000 members of the public who were invited in recognition of their extensive charity work.

Meet Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding guests

Meet some of the incredible members of the public from across the UK who have been invited to the Royal Wedding.

Posted by BBC iPlayer on Friday, 18 May 2018

The involvement of these guests resulted in 270 videos being created in just three days. Overall, the content effectively showcased the event from differing and relatable perspectives, and ramped up excitement across digital channels.

Aerie

Aerie is a swimwear and lingerie brand that fights against the heavily edited and photoshopped images that usually appear in magazines and on social media. It also uses its own marketing to promote a more positive and realistic message for women.

Aerie integrates user generated content into its social media in order to further this message, with the #AerieReal campaign being one prominent example. Promoting the brand’s pledge to never retouch the models it features, #AerieReal asked users to submit their own untouched images captioned with the hashtag. To give users an incentive to do so, the brand also promised to donate $1 for every photo submitted to the National Eating Disorders Association.

Not only did the campaign strike a chord with consumers – effectively encouraging high levels of interest and involvement – but it also naturally showcased the brand’s product in a realistic and empowering way.

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Travelex

Instead of a one-off or short-term campaign, user-generated content is a regular fixture for money exchange company, Travelex. In 2017, it held a series of monthly ‘contests’, encouraging users to submit their travel photos for the chance to win a selection of prizes.

The photos were then used to create a curated social wall filled with travel inspiration and ideas for other consumers to browse through.

Travelex UGC

Throughout the summer, Travelex created a different theme for each month, (e.g. ‘TravelexSplash’ and ‘TravelexExotic), with the aim of driving continuous engagement over a period of time.

By running the contests across multiple social networks, including both Instagram and Twitter as well as its own website, the brand also increased visibility and reach.

Boomf

Boomf is a company that specialises in exploding gifts and cards (made from confetti etc.). Consequently, it has a ready-made social media strategy that is built around the reactions of recipients. Its Instagram is filled with fun and joyous videos of people being surprised by Boomf.

It is a simple strategy, but one the naturally and effectively promotes the product (as well as the brand’s wider aim of bringing fun and joy to people’s lives).

Boomf uses competitions to continue this cycle of advocacy, asking consumers to film their loved ones’ reactions for the chance to win prizes as well as be featured online. This means the brand has a continuous stream of content available, without needing to invest as much time or resource into creating its own.

FC Barcelona

Sports brands tend to have an edge when it comes to user generated content, largely because the industry already relies on the passion and loyalty of fans. Audiences tend to naturally be more inclined to want to share their love for sports and the companies involved.

FC Barcelona has cleverly capitalised on this desire, creating a unique way for fans to experience and document a visit to the club’s home ground of Camp Nou. In partnership with messaging app Viber and consumer activation platform, Vivoom, FC Barcelona enabled fans to experience ‘signing a contract’ with the club, as well as what it is like to be in a press conference and walk out to adoring crowds. The videos were enhanced to make them seem as authentic as possible, and fans were then encouraged to share them on their own social media channels.

The activation effectively strengthened engagement and interaction with the club – giving fans that are unable to visit Camp Nou a slice of the action.

Viber + FC Barcelona “Player Tunnel” User Experience from Vivoom on Vimeo.

Crown Resorts

Instead of rolling out user generated content on regular social media channels, Australian gaming and entertainment company, Crown Resorts, decided to incorporate it into paid media.

Partnering with UGC platform, Stackla, the brand was able to quickly identify the best user generated content (showcasing its various tourist destinations) on Instagram, as well gain permission to use the photos. It then used the content in Facebook ads, along with the tagline “This could be your photo!’.

Crown Resorts UGC

One effective element of the campaign was that it was executed in real-time, with the platform monitoring fresh content as it was posted. This heightened authenticity, with the advertising copy emphasising the fact that the content was created by real consumers (and in no way manipulated by the brand).

According to reports, the campaign resulted in a 21% lower cost-per thousand impressions (CPM) with 40% more impressions, and a 25% increase in likes.

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