Whether you’re looking for recommendations for a new pair of jeans, a vegan chocolate brand, or some awesome new toys for your puppy, where do you turn?
If you said Google, you’re not alone. Long gone are the days where we’d call up our mum and dad and ask what they’d do. I mean, it’s not like you want to wear the same kind of jeans as your mum, anyway.
Studies show that 84% of people trust the opinions of strangers as much as, or even more so, the opinion of friends or family. While it’s statistics like these that have driven the massive rise in Instagram influencers and YouTube vloggers earning million-dollar deals, it’s also led to a humongous growth in consumer-generated marketing or CGM of products and services among savvy marketing teams.
What is Consumer-Generated Marketing?
Consumer-generated marketing is a brilliant, yet under-utilised, type of marketing strategy used to build an inexpensive marketing campaign. And, all you have to do is encourage customers to create content (often in the form of product reviews, photo sharing or social media content) and join in the conversation they spark.
Sounds simple, right?
Well, not entirely. User-generated content is, as you might expect, kinda fickle. You don't need a degree in marketing to get it right, but some businesses just don't have a hard time generating this kind of content because they’re already super popular with their customer base, or their product is something that’s not all that niche. Whereas other businesses might get someone posting about their product once in a blue moon. It’s tricky.
That’s why, with CGM, encouraging user-generated content as part of the feedback stage is a big part of the process. After all, as with any marketing avenue you need a strategy, and the content you receive might not always be applicable or align with your creative ideas and large-scale marketing decisions.
Who Responds to Consumer-Generated Marketing?
As far as marketing trends go, CGM is astoundingly popular with younger consumers who are Internet savvy and are tired of seeing the same old marketing campaigns from their favourite brands, advertising the same old products. Given that user-generated content is is a type of content created by customers, it appeals more to customers who see it as a more truthful representation of a brand’s value - often through social media posts.
In essence, it’s word of mouth for the Internet age. But, instead of telling your Nan that she should (for sure) check out the pet store down the road, you’re telling someone halfway across the world about it.
Consumer-Generated Marketing Risks
As we mentioned earlier, you need to encourage your customers to create user-generated content. As far as content marketing strategies go, CGM is a powerful marketing tool that can easily go hand-in-hand with your other content marketing efforts.
With that in mind, there are a lot of risks associated with content marketing that you need to be aware of. The first being that your online presence and reputation may come under a lot of scrutiny.
Now more than ever, internet users aren’t afraid to air their grievances online - whether it's positive feedback or negative feedback ... they won't hold back. In fact, many of them do because brands are so active on social media - and understandably want to manage their reputation - that it’s often a quicker way of contacting customer services when they’ve got an issue.
So, if your business doesn’t have the best reputation online, you need to get that fixed before you even consider going for consumer-generated marketing activities. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a literal avalanche of buzz marketing making fun of your brand, and you’ll have blown your marketing budget on what will most likely be the newest meme on Twitter - not exactly an advertising campaign you'll want attention for ...
Awesome Consumer-Generated Marketing Strategies
Okay, so your online reputation is looking great and you’re ready to hit publish on that caption asking your consumers to begin creating content across all your social media platforms. Hold your horses, champ. Before you do, you might need to learn a little more about how they’ll fit into your consumer-generated marketing campaign.
Let’s take a look at some awesome ideas for user-generated content and brands that have done it really well to turn current customers into loyal customers down the line.
Let’s Get Personal
We’re all a sucker for personalised items. I mean, I have a dog, and if I see anything I can slap her name onto, it goes straight into my basket.
When we buy personalised things, we’re already more likely to share them on social media. Whether that’s a new dog tag (guilty), a custom T-shirt, or the ol’ reliable Starbucks cup, we love showing off things that relate to us. Or our dogs.
If you already sell personalised items, then you’ll likely already have some user-generated content to work with. But, if you don’t, consider if it’s feasible to offer personalisations on some of the things you sell.
Coca-Cola’s “Share a Coke” campaign is a brilliant example of this in action. In 2013 and 2014, Coca-Cola sold bottles of their drinks with names and phrases on the side, both in-store and online, and consumers were encouraged to share pictures of them and their friends with these products online. The iconic campaign was a huge success, particularly because it was paired with a cross-country campaign where people could get their name printed on a Coke can or bottle.
Every customer loves a competition, particularly when they’re super easy to enter. Competitions are an awesome CGM strategy, which is why they’re used so often as part of marketing content.
It’s really simple to run a competition, too. All you need to do is decide what content you want your users to generate - whether it's photos of customers, online reviews, blog posts, etc. - come up with a way to expedite the customer data collection process and decide on appropriate prizes to ramp up the customer engagement.
Admittedly, you do have to be careful with this strategy, particularly if you’re asking for content that otherwise your business would have to purchase. In 2018, the embroidery brand DMC came under a lot of fire for asking for cross stitch pattern submissions, but the prize offered was nowhere near relative to the effort that went in. That went down as well as you might expect.
Saying that, if you make the prize something worthwhile, you can sit back and enjoy the content that comes flooding into your DMs. Like with the 2017 Folger’s Jingle competition, where the winner received a grand prize of $25,000 and a mentoring session with Country music star Chris Young.
Ready to Get Going?
Consumer-generated marketing is an exciting modern avenue of content marketing, and we’d love to chat about your ideas more. Ready to revolutionise your marketing for the Internet age? Drop us a line.