This post originally ran on Social Media Today.
The beauty of social media is that anyone can be a brand advocate on sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Savvy advertisers not only gain inspiration and insights from what’s shared online; they incorporate user generated content in their marketing campaigns. Showcasing images, videos or reviews from your audience isn’t just a smart strategy for building brand engagement; it’s also an effective way to drive revenue, especially among younger users. In fact, many millennials say that user generated content informs their purchase decisions for big ticket items like electronics (59%), cars (54%), major appliances (53%), hotels (45%) and travel plans (40%).
How can you harness the power of user generated content for your own social ad campaigns? Here’s how four brands are successfully incorporating real people (and animals!) into their online marketing strategies.
Explore Canada Acts Like A Native
When including user generated content in your ads, you want to make sure that your campaign fits in with the social platform where it runs. An ad that doesn’t mesh with surrounding native content will make for an obtrusive viewing experience, and it’s especially important to look natural when advertising on a platform like Instagram — where mobile ads are integrated directly into a stream of organic content.
Explore Canada’s video ad feels right at home on Instagram because it’s comprised of users’ Instagram photos. By showcasing stunning shots taken around Canada by ordinary people, the ads provide a real-world view of what it’s like to tour the country. The slideshow of images gives Twitter audiences an honest portrayal of sights and encourages them to click the ad’s “Learn More” call-to-action (CTA) button so they can have their own Canadian travel experience.
Pier 1 Shares Stories And Advice
Audiences need to get more out of your ads than a pitch for why they should use your products or services. Providing helpful tips or telling an entertaining story is a great way to attract attention without overselling. User generated content is an excellent method for converting new customers because it provides realistic and relatable advice or narratives that audiences can easily connect with.
This Facebook video carousel ad from Pier 1 Imports features multiple couples sharing how they transformed their own backyards. Aside from sharing real-world tips and advice, the videos tell a narrative about each couple that is fun and entertaining to watch. Pier 1 is also able to subtly sell its own products through each couple’s story. This sales pitch isn’t intrusive to the content, yet it still positions Pier 1 as the obvious choice for viewers who want take their own backyard makeover journey like the people in each video.
BarkBox Builds On What’s Popular
If you want your ads to be well-received on social media, sometimes it helps to take a page from content that’s already popular. Basing your ads on what you know audiences already love takes the guesswork out of creating well-received ads. It also ensures that your ads will blend with the organic content that surrounds it on social media sites. If a particular meme, trend or style aligns well with your brand, it’s worth exploring ways to incorporate it into your advertising campaigns via user generated content.
BarkBox understands that pictures and videos of cats, dogs, and other animals are the bread and butter of social media. After all, it’s nearly impossible to go a week without a video or image of a cute creature going viral online. BarkBox harnesses the pet photo hype by making its Instagram ad all about the happy pups that receive its boxes of toys and treats. This Instagram ad does more than amuse viewers with the cute animal photos that they already love; it also provides proof that real pets (and their owners) love BarkBox. Instead of telling viewers about the value of its services, BarkBox lets the faces of happy customers do the talking – or barking.
Memebox Lets Users Speak For Themselves
When it comes to gaining the trust of new customers and encouraging brand loyalty among current users, nothing will ever be as powerful as reviews and feedback from your company’s biggest fans. People are often more inclined to trust what other people say rather than what a business says about itself, so letting reviews take center stage in your ads is a smart move.
Rather than preach the benefits of its products, beauty delivery service Memebox lets actual users try them out in a series of Facebook video ads. In the ad above, viewers are taken through one user’s experience using a face mask sold on Memebox’s site. The video shares all the details about using the mask — including real-world challenges like messy application — ultimately succeeding in selling the product because it gets an honest and whole-hearted thumbs up from a real person. By employing this user generated content, Memebox sells itself in an honest and natural way that isn’t a turn-off to audiences.
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