As 2015 unfolded, 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 an audience that is increasingly tech and social media savvy, the need for authentic brand engagement tactics is 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, people, or experiences using #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 in Vanuatu.
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 shared incredible experiences with their loyal following and reached a 2nd-degree network. Additionally, this allowed them 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 fashion bloggers to incorporate Clarks’ shoes into their own daily style. Furthermore, the company also wanted their followers to participate in the fashionable fun; they encouraged them to post photos of their Clarks shoes onto social media using #Shoesie and #Clarks.
Also, followers could get involved by uploading their photos or videos directly on the Clarks website. As a result, this entered them for a chance 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, they 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.” Therefore, 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 its 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. In fact, 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.
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 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 eight-week campaign focused on promoting the Bellagio and Vegas as a sought-after destination. Influencers posted original, on-property content via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Vine. As a result, 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?”
Another example is Capital One. The financial institution also took full advantage of the power of Instagram this year by creating a five-week campaign that sought to be more than your typical hashtag contest. Three popular Instagrammers took over the Capital One Instagram to show just what they had in their wallets, posting everything 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. However, the success of 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 in 2016, we’ll see more brands encourage consumers to contribute original content. For this reason, companies will push the power into the hands of the influencers and contributors for more authentic advertising.