A common tool used in supporting global marketing strategies is user generated content (UGC), often driven though popular social media channels. This form of marketing has been around for years however, multilingual UGC and social media activity has increased dramatically with the growth of mobile and wireless technology and the Internet accessibility around the world.
There has been significant growth of platforms that “harvest” UGC, including forums, review sites, video hosts, customer review sites, e-tail stores and the universally popular social media hubs. As social media platforms have multiplied in popularity, so too has the connectivity of people to people via smartphones, wi-fi, 4G and tablets. Consumers want to share their feedback, ideas, thoughts and experiences, both good and bad, which in a sense is humanizing the products or services making them more personalized to other online consumers. In fact, 96% of the people that discuss brands online do not follow those brands’ owned profiles. There is no way to avoid the proliferation of content created from users and networks.
Global marketers are capitalizing on the potential access to new regions and markets and user groups are using innovative and creative UGC and social media campaigns for promotional purposes. UGC is the staple of most e-commerce websites in today’s society and can be developed into a marketing and business asset.
There are many historically innovative and effective UGC campaigns that will long live in the archives of marketing annuals. One way global marketers are extending their reach into different geographies is through visuals. Sites such as Instagram, Pinterest and SnapChat have proven that pictures travel. Video sharing continues to be on the rise and statistically has better reach and broader “socialization” results. In addition to the supporting language translation of accompanying multimedia, visuals have an opportunity to open up the “global” brand experience in faster and greater scale.
Here are a just few examples of how some brands have harnessed and utilized UGC and social media to their advantage:
In April 2014, Starbucks launched a “White Cups Contest” by asking customers across the country to doodle on their Starbucks cups and submit pictures as entries. The winning design would be displayed on a new limited edition Starbucks cup. In less than a three week period, over 4,000 customers submitted an entry and the campaign ran across social media. This is a great example of getting customers engaged in the brand and actively advocating and promoting brand values through a creative experience.
Dunkin Donuts implemented their own efficient UGC social media campaign and kept to only one social media platform: Facebook. Dunkin Donuts urged customers to take and post photos of themselves with their Coolatta coffee. In return, they could win a variety of prizes from iPhones, TV’s to clothing. The benefits of UGC campaigns like this can be relatively inexpensive and the fact it gets hundreds, to thousands of customers promoting the brand and the beverage on a popular social media site, in effect endorsing the product visually.
BarkBox is pretty much what it sounds like, it’s a box full of toys and treats for dogs of all ages. BarkBox channels into the pet and animal photo hype that is especially popular on Instagram. Their ads on this Instagram not only amuses viewers with cute photos, but it provides proof that real pets, and their owners love the idea behind BarkBox. Customers take photos of their pets with different toys and treats telling other viewers about the value of its services and advertise on behalf of the company. This is a great example of a company knowing what their audience loves, images, videos and photos are well received on all social media channels which ensured that BarkBox’s ad content blended well with popular content.
A global treasure, National Geographic turned to the social media community with their content campaign “Wanderlust.” They asked users to capture glimpses of the unforgettable people, places and experiences that have impacts their lives from their travels around the world and use a specific Twitter hashtag #WanderlustContest. In exchange for uploading their images, all submissions had a chance to win a National Geographic Photo Expedition to Yosemite National Park in the United States. This contest received thousands of entries giving National Geographic access to a huge database of travel photography and video content.
Companies are using UGC and harnessing it through their social channels to drive global reach and business growth that expands into new markets and languages. By utilizing social media and UGC, global organizations engage with like-minded, targeted communities and the possibilities, at a global level, could be endless.
Emma Cox is a member of Welocalize’s Global Marketing and Sales Support team.