How to incorporate user generated content — and how to do it right

Want your marketing to get noticed by millennials? Have them help create it. According to a recent study, user generated content is 35% more memorable and 50% more trusted than all other forms of media.

Of course, this isn’t the only benefit to incorporating UGC into your marketing plans. It can also help stretch your budget while freeing teams from the burden of constant creation. And it’s not just for small, scrappy brands looking to do more with less. Big brands have embraced UGC, too.

Coca-Cola’s “GIF The Feeling”

Building on the strength of their “Share A Coke” initiative and its 2.5% sales bump, Coca-Cola recently launched a microsite to support its new “Taste The Feeling” tagline. There visitors can choose from one of 32 short videos, add a feeling and save everything as a GIF they can share. Of course, you can imagine with the Internet being the Internet what happened next. Many trolled Coke by superimposing “feelings” tied to bathroom issues, personal fetishes and more. Which is why you’ll want to employ safeguards — such as a review process or some quality incentives — to keep it clean.

Doritos’ “Crash The Second Screen”

The just-announced successor to the decade-old “Crash The Super Bowl” promotion is a nod to the differences between millennials and Gen Xers. Knowing that younger audiences will be looking at their devices while watching Sunday’s game, Doritos is winding down its create-a-commercial contest in favor of paying out for the night’s best tweets. With 29 million tweets made during Super Bowl XLIX — and 32,000 “Crash The Super Bowl” submissions over 10 years — Doritos is likely to see great ROI for that $150,000. The cash prize should keep shenanigans to a minimum, too.

Update: Here are some of the honorable mentions from the night of “the big game.” At this time no winners have been announced.

MAC’s MACnificent Me

While 70,000 people creating content for MAC Cosmetics is impressive, it’s not the results that make this campaign unique — it’s how it began. Before MAC fans could enter to win a makeover, they were required to submit their personal mantra with a (private) 100-word essay. Instead of pouring over lots of  ‘before’ images — there were none — visitors to the submissions site spent an average of eight minutes checking out others’ messages of positivity and self-empowerment. Eventually, six people were selected for makeovers on the strength of their mantras and essays. These individuals subsequently documented their experiences in video diaries that now reside on the MACnificent Me site.

What makes this last campaign something to emulate (to me, at least) at how “real” it is. It’s authentic storytelling with no obvious ulterior motives. No “buy a Coke,” no “grab a bag of Doritos.” It’s less of an ad masquerading as content and more about marketing converging with human interest stories.

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