Your audience aren’t just content consumers—they are also crucial content creators for your communications strategy.
Not only can promotions and contests on social media help raise awareness about your organization, but they can offer a profoundly different kind of conversation from the usual one-way messaging from brands to their publics.
One campaign highlighting the opportunities offered by user-generated content comes from YouTube and Mustache, part of Cognizant Interactive. The campaign, called “You Are the Champions,” asked users worldwide to participate in in a group video set to some of Queen’s biggest hits.
John Limotte, founder and CEO for Mustache, explains that the teams “all saw an opportunity to create something truly global and life affirming.”
“Celebrating Queen’s enduring legacy across all walks of life, but also tapping into a new generation of fans that has discovered and embraced the band. As internet natives, Gen Z in particular represents this unique, exciting culture of creativity and self-expression that was perfect for this campaign, and perfect for a band like Queen.”
The campaign resulted in an array of videos, each with a different angle. Some shared dance moves; others focused on performance.
Limotte concedes that putting the disparate videos together was labor-intensive.
“Execution was a process to be sure, with very different review criteria for each video,” he says. “For ‘Bohemian Rhapsody,’ where audio quality was paramount, we searched for both the very best vocal/instrumental performances, and the most unique, memorable talent (like the fella who plays the song with water glasses). For ‘A Kind of Magic,’ it was all about sourcing moments that flowed well into one another and showcased compelling visual artistry.”
When deciding which user submission to highlight, it’s important to have an overall plan for your content and to set priorities when selecting snippets or clips to share on your channel.
Limotte says the team looked for “energy,” “diversity” and “people with outsized personality.”
If you don’t have great content like the catalog of Queen to work with, you can also get users to join the online conversation with a contest or challenge, a la the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.
Swisse Wellness, an Australian vitamin and wellness brand, looked to drive the conversation about its products in the U.S. with an ’80s-themed exercise challenge on Instagram.
Kacy Rivers, Swisse’s senior marketing manager for North America, says: “As Swisse Wellness continues to grow in the U.S., we’re constantly looking for new ways to build brand awareness and engage with our target audience. Our ’80s-themed exercise #30DayChallenge and sweepstakes, created in collaboration with our ambassador, Luke Milton, is inspired by our mission to help millions of people live healthier and happier.”
For Swisse, the target channel was Instagram instead of YouTube.
“We specifically picked Instagram as the main channel because of its visual and engaging nature,” says Rivers. It’s also where the brand’s audience already hangs out.
“Our most engaged audience is on Instagram today,” she continues. “It made sense to use this channel to host the #30DayChallenge, because we expected this audience to be excited about participating, and to be most likely to share the content with their personal social networks.”
How do you know whether your efforts to engage with user-generated content are going according to plan?
Some of it is tangible, such as monitoring mentions, comments and impressions. However, some of what can define success is much more subjective. For the team at Mustache, it was crucial that the videos felt authentic to the Queen fanbase, and such authenticity is hard to put a number value on.
“Media attention is always nice and validating,” says Limotte, “and those early results have been great, which is certainly a testament to the power of fan-sourced content done well … but for me, the success barometer here is less tangible and metric driven. It’s more of an eye test.”
Another way of describing it, he says, is to call it “a vibe.” To know if you nailed the feel of the campaign, you have to ask the right questions. “Did we capture the spirit of the band and its fans, and did the content put some joy out into the world?” says Limotte. “That’s a much more personal and subjective matter, but I feel comfortable saying yes.”