User generated content (UGC) can in its simplest form be defined as the content which is added to a website that is not directly associated with the company being talked about i.e. content created about a product, brand or service by 3rd parties. Within ecommerce this UGC typically takes the form of product reviews, blog posts, images and videos.
UGC can exist both on the specific brand / product’s website or it could exist off-site on a 3rd party website. It is therefore critical for ecommerce retailers to:
- Understand where UGC is being generated;
- Know how to manage and maximise the opportunities arising from it.
Not only will this maximise sales revenues, it will also build trust and brand advocacy with the brands’ target customers. As online shoppers now have so much choice due to multiple retailers selling similar products, finding a point of differentiation is key. Through UGC a retailer is able to provide content which is useful to their target market both by educating them about a product, assisting with their decision making or simply by creating brand advocacy through content which is entertaining.
What follows are a number of great examples of UGC for ecommerce retailers.
John Lewis – ‘The Bear & The Hare’ ReWorked
John Lewis launched this year’s Christmas campaign titled ‘The Bear & The Hare’, as always accompanied by a catchy soundtrack. This year John Lewis chose to use a cover of Keane’s ‘Somewhere only we know’ by Lily Allen.
Building on what is already an incredibly successful campaign, John Lewis have now taken things one step further by launching ‘ReWorked‘ which encourages aspiring musicians to record themselves doing their own cover of the song and upload it to YouTube. The incentive? A judging panel led by Keane will choose a winning cover version. The winning musician will then be invited to London for a special recording session with their cover overlaid onto the advert for a special Christmas day TV airing.
The campaign has already received great success with at least 500 user videos uploaded to YouTube and over 20,000 views. Not only has this increased the reach of the John Lewis advertising campaign online, it has created a significant volume of shareable, user generated content on YouTube in a short space of time to create positive brand sentiment.
Snazaroo Face Paints
Snazaroo are industry leaders when it comes to face painting, selling a vast range of products across Europe. Within their website they offer a ‘community’ section where their customers are encouraged to download guides of how to achieve different face paint effects, apply the face paint and then upload photos of their designs back to the website. The photos are then used by Snazaroo to promote specific products and the Snazaroo brand through their social networks and on the website.
This use of user generated content by Snazaroo is excellent as it immediately creates engagement with their target audience. It allows prospective customers to see the real results from using their products, that the products are safe to apply to their children’s skin and creates an aspiration with customers competing to upload the best designs.
H&M – Launching their new online shop in the US
Fashion retailer H&M have recently launched a new online shop in the US and to celebrate they have created a promotional campaign titled “50 states of Fashion“.
H&M are creating UGC by asking people to upload a picture of themselves to Instagram using a hashtag corresponding to the state that they are located in e.g. #HMShopOnlineAL (Alabama).
H&M have then assigned ‘Style Ambassadors’ for each of the states e.g. North Dakota, who are influential bloggers, promoting the campaign in their area. On the 50 states of Fashion website where images are uploaded, people can then vote for the best styles. One winner will then be selected from each region and put forward as a finalist for the grand prize – $1,000 H&M shopping spree and a trip to New York City for Fashion Week.
Entering new markets and creating brand awareness can be extremely challenging and certainly come at a great cost. Therefore by creating a campaign which promotes your brand through influential individuals, is competition based and shows off your product range it is likely to reap huge rewards. So, how successful has the campaign been to date? Well, according to Statigr.am 5,986 photos have been uploaded to Instagram to date using the hashtags which by my books highlights a very successful level of engagement for a national UGC campaign.
Fred Perry – “Tell us your story”
Fred Perry have aimed to engage with their market through their “Tell us your Story” campaign which asks website users to upload stories and videos of their experiences with the brand over the years.
The brand ask their fans to “share your affection and affiliation to Fred Perry or the many music Subcultures associated with the iconic laurel logo. These include Mods, Rudeboys, Suedeheads, Ska/Two Tone, Punk, New Wave, Casuals/Perry Boys, Britpop, Electronic/Rave and Indie/Electro clash.”
With a heritage brand such as Fred Perry, they have a life-long fan base who have obviously had many life experiences wearing their iconic clothing. Not only does this campaign allow Fred Perry to strengthen their relationship with their existing customers it allows them to affirm their position in the market as a heritage English brand label that has existed through multiple decades.
User generated content is a great way for a brand to engage with its audience, obtain new customers and reinforce its brand position as shown through the examples above. Of course there are countless examples of UGC taking place with the big brands now. Historically this content has focused around product reviews and comments however in recent years there has been a major shift towards image based content and more recently video based content with brands exploring emerging platforms such as Vine.
What are the best examples of UGC that you’ve seen?