As 2015 unfolded, more and more companies started to catch on to the power of user-generated content. For those of you with no idea what user-generated content is, just dissect the term; it’s content shared by the followers of a brand with the purpose of spreading the word about products or services. With an audience that is increasingly tech and social media savvy, the need for authentic brand engagement tactics are taking center stage.
Let’s take a look at a few brands that showcased some of the top campaigns in 2015.
National Geographic – #Wanderlustcontest
National Geographic partnered with Honda to launch a photo campaign that captured the beauty of the world through user-generated content. Nat Geo followers were encouraged to take pictures of unbelievable sights, amazing people, or life-changing experiences with the hashtag #WanderlustContest. The prize was a seven-day Yosemite National Park photo expedition for two, with a National Geographic photographer.
The winner of the contest, @gaylen_wampler, submitted a photo that truly represented the spirit of wonder. The shot shows several travelers at the edge of Mt. Yasur, an active volcano located on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu.
In the end, Nat Geo collected hundreds of breathtaking submissions from all over the world, which are now displayed on the website. By harnessing user-generated content, National Geographic was not only able to share incredible experiences with their loyal following, but they reached a 2nd-degree network (i.e., friends of photo submitters). This allowed Nat Geo to connect with a new audience that likely shared a similar interest in traveling and adventure.
Clarks – Fashion Blogger Style
Clarks began their user-generated content campaign by hand-picking eight influential fashion bloggers from France, Germany, Spain, and the Netherlands to incorporate Clarks’ shoes into their own day-to-day style. Influencers were given a creative license to show off their favorite shoes from the Spring / Summer ‘15 line.
Clarks also wanted their followers to participate in the fashionable fun by also uploading photos of their Clarks shoes onto Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter with the tags #Shoesie and #Clarks.
Followers could also get involved by uploading their photos or videos directly on the Clarks website for the opportunity to win a free pair of shoes of their choice. In the end, it was the stylish incentive that drove results. Hundreds of Instagram users joined the campaign to show off their own Clark-inspired style. With this campaign, the Clarks brand gained incredible exposure by putting their brand in the hands of the user.
Discovery & Dunkin’ Donuts – #DDSharkWeek
Discovery partnered with Dunkin’ Donuts to celebrate Shark Week 2015 by launching a photo sweepstakes titled “Take a Bite, Take a Pic.” To get involved, fans had to submit a picture of themselves taking a big bite out of a shark-themed donut. Using the hashtag #DDSharkWeek and sharing via Twitter or Instagram, followers had the chance to have their picture showcased in Times Square on the Dunkin’ Donuts digital billboard.
The contest is now closed, but it’s memory lives on with the many pictures of fans taking their big bites for Shark Week on the Discovery website. The winners of the contest are showcased as the “Best Bite of The Night”.
Dunkin’ Donuts is no stranger to user-generated content. The brand has even gone on to encourage influencers to show off their fall-themed drinks and treats on Snapchat and Vine. Dallas’ own Matt King, a comedy Viner, even participated by sharing his pumpkin-spiced thoughts via Snapchat. Dunkin’ Donuts’ campaigns continuously showcase the brand in a fun and positive light, while establishing a strong foothold on social media that invites followers to join in on the fun.
Bellagio Las Vegas: #UltimateVegas
Bellagio Las Vegas picked 20 influencers in a variety of fields for their #UltimateVegas campaign. They sought to create more awareness for the hotel as well as Beautiful Destinations. This list of influential people included one of the biggest and most-subscribed gaming YouTubers, Markiplier. He posted a video with nods to the Bellagio experience for his 9 million subscribers to enjoy, but he did the bulk of his promoting through Instagram.
The 8-week campaign focused on promoting the Bellagio, as well as Vegas, as a sought-after destination. Influencers were encouraged to post original, on-property content via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Vine. Through the influencers, followers learned about the campaign and quickly became involved. Users uploaded their pictures from their most epic travels in Sin City with the #UltimateVegas hashtag. The image that generated the most likes on Bellagio’s Instagram would win the Vegas trip of a lifetime.
Capital One “What’s in your wallet”
Capital One also took full advantage of the power of Instagram this year by creating a five-week-long campaign that sought to be more than your typical hashtag contest. Three popular Instagram users were asked to take over the Capital One Instagram to show just what they had in their wallets. The influencers posted anything from love letters, movie tickets, and photographs.
Instagram was the clear domain to reach and engage their millennial audience. By submitting pictures, users had the chance to see their photos as ads for the brand. The success from this campaign was solely reliant on Capital One’s ability to inspire influencers and appeal to millennials.
Looking back, 2015 was a record year for user-generated content. But now as we dive head first into 2016, we’ll see more brands beginning to create campaigns that encourage consumers to contribute original, relevant content. And as this happens, companies will continue to push the power into the hands of the influencers and contributors for more authentic advertising.