Friday, November 30, 2012

User-Generated Content: Engaging Customers, Enhancing Brand Authenticity

Leading edge companies leverage user-generated content to bring their brands alive, engage some of their biggest fans, and emphasize the authenticity of their brand.  They don't just solicit customer reviews, collect likes on Facebook, or ask customers to vote on items that they should sell.  They actually encourage customers to help them tell their brand story.  Paige Beaumont, Assistant Editor of the Post Advertising blog, writes about the impact of user-generated content:  

Great user-generated content (UGC) should not exist in a vacuum—it should be reused, when and where appropriate, to bring color and authenticity to a brand’s marketing.  As brands expand their social-media footprints, many have also (smartly) placed more emphasis on engaging with their fans. As a result, they’ve begun proudly featuring selected consumer contributions in print, TV and online advertising. Dedicated fans often create a gold mine of content that’s just waiting to be explored, and in due course, brands have begun to dip into this resource. It’s the easiest and most direct way to build relationships with customers, because their passion for their favorite brands makes them happy to respond and share their stories—messages that are infinitely more compelling than what the brand might say.

Paige offers some terrific examples in this blog post.   For instance, she highlights an advertisement by Target that features real home videos of high school students opening their college acceptance letters.  The ad clearly evokes an emotional reaction, and Target appropriately makes a connection to their own efforts to donate a portion of revenues to schools throughout the country.  

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