Mary Meeker’s 2015 Internet Trends report was released recently, and in it she and her team cover the transformational nature of user-generated content. “Imagine That… Users Generating Their Content Are Recreating Their Internet,” they write. This, after several examples of how the number of pins and user-generated commentary has increased 75 percent year-over-year on Pinterest (and it’s finally catching on with men), the number of user-generated videos shared on Snapchat is growing and the number of user-shared and curated video views on Facebook has hit four billion (with a B!).
This is inevitable in a world where our cameras on our phones are now better than our bulky digital cameras ever were, and when we have a few spare minutes in line at Target or while waiting to board the subway we start tweeting and scrolling through Facebook.
Also growing are the ways we as marketers can gather data and mine it for trends and information about our audiences.
All of this user-generated content, in combination with a content marketing strategy, can enhance your brand while building a level of trust between it and your customers.
Think about how product reviews have enhanced your shopping experience in the last five years. This very specific type of user-generated content is proven to increase conversion rates when added to product listing pages on e-commerce sites. Why? Because people can get the truth about a product before they make a purchase.
And don’t think that only positive reviews help—shoppers report that negative customer reviews also build trust in a brand because they know you’re not hiding something from them.
User-generated content campaigns like the “Share a Coke” campaign made buying a bottle of Coke a lot more fun last summer, and even boosted sales more than 2 percent. Think about it—when your thirst for something fizzy and refreshing took you into a convenience store last summer you probably looked for your name on a bottle of Coke. I know I did (and unfortunately “Kaitlin” is not an option). But it didn’t stop me from actually making the purchase. The idea, in combination with the hashtag #ShareaCoke and a website where you can search for specific names, send a virtual bottle of Coke to a friend, and even special-order a bottle with your desired moniker on it yielded pictures, posts, and tweets all over the place.
But my favorite example of genius PR-turned-user-generated content is Stitch Fix.
Stitch Fix is a clothing subscription service where you fill out an extensive survey about your personal style and clothing preferences and then pay a $20 styling fee to receive five pieces of clothing in the mail. If you like what you receive, the $20 goes toward what you buy. If you don’t, you can simply send it back. Stitch Fix has spread like wildfire through the blog world. The genius part about Stitch Fix’s strategy is that they provide affiliate links. So whether or not they ask bloggers to write sponsored posts and offer them a free styling, bloggers write honest reviews of their Stitch Fix experiences and include their referral links to gain credits towards styling fees and clothing.
This has yielded hundreds of Stitch Fix review posts touting the concept as a way to make your wardrobe more unique without having to leave the comfort of your home, complete with pictures of each piece and even the unboxing. More than that, Stitch Fix launched Stitch Fix Reviews, a compilation of hundreds of reviews submitted by clients, in 2013.
The posts are overwhelmingly positive, even at times when clients receive a piece of clothing that they absolutely hate or one that doesn’t fit. This idea has been gold for Stitch Fix because it keeps growing their business—70 percent of their clients get a second “fix.” And a lot of them keep blogging about it.
All this is in combination with Stitch Fix’s own blog and a team of people to oversee just how everything is going in the blogosphere has helped them secure several rounds of funding.
They’ve caught the user-generated content wave—a wave that keeps growing. So, how are you going to turn all of those things your customers say about your brand into marketing that works?