Using user generated content: Let your customers do your work

Advertising evolved from informational sales tactics into carefully curated product representations and experiences in the 40’s and 50’s. Marketing executives a la Mad Men’s Don Draper worked with clients to capture their client’s essence and package it into a perfectly polished campaign. Ads could bend the truth in small doses to create a magical version of reality in which Dawn dish soap has the power to transform the average housewife into a beautiful domestic goddess.
Times have changed. Today, customers have wised up to the alluring temptation of this type of advertising. Instead of looking to their favorite magazine for inspiration on what to buy, they ask their friends or surf their favorite bloggers’ websites. As a result, the emergence of review sites, social media, and peer-sharing has boomed. Now, customers have the power to influence a brand’s success simply by telling the truth. We’d like to think Don Draper needs a martini just thinking about that prospect.

Luckily, we know you understand the value of harnessing your customers feedback as part of a healthy marketing mix. User generated content is one of the simple, most effective ways to channel positive customer feedback into advertising potential. As an added bonus, you get to give your creative team a break and have your customers do the work for you. 


Almost every industry can leverage user generated content. Beer producer Miller Lite had customers take short videos of themselves enjoying a beer and Tweet about the experience online. Miller the promoted the winning Tweets as commercials for their product. In addition to increasing their social engagement and reach, the user generated commercial campaigns also invited customers to be authentic, share their stories, and encourage other people like them do the same. Birds of a feather do, indeed, flock together. As consumers saw other individuals like them enjoying a Miller, they realized their own summer wouldn’t be complete without a six pack of this refreshing, light beer.

Avantgarde hospitality brand The Standard Spa and Hotels took a similar approach. Over the Fourth of July, they asked customers to celebrate freedom and love by taking a video of themselves and their significant other kissing. The hotel Instagrammed user stories showing same-sex, multi-racial, and even just your “regular old” couples spreading the love. This campaign clearly expressed the hotel chain’s values, served as an invitation for guests to take part in their belief system, and – you guessed it – share their own stories.


In addition to their great entertainment value, this user generated content is highly effective for your business.

  • Increased engagement:

    One of the main benefits of using user-generated content is that it’s highly engaging. Potential customers flock to your website or social media accounts to interact with user-centric campaigns, post their own content, and like other user content they find. This means more people are spending more time on your site or social media accounts learning about and interacting with your brand. And you didn’t have to do a thing.

  • Viral potential:

    Even more enticing is the possibility that some of this content could go viral. As customers engage with other user generated content, they may be inclined to share what they find (or share their own content). There are hundreds of thousands of creative people out there. It only takes one really incredible iPhone video to transform your brand into the next YouTube craze. And more exposure means more sales. 

  • Low cost, high impact:

    User-generated content also costs nearly nothing to produce. Once you think of a campaign that users would want to participate in, you simply have to promote that opportunity and your followers will do the rest. When timed alongside a holiday or dip in your sales cycle, the added bump of exposure can have a great impact on your sales.

  • Authenticity at its finest:

    The best part is, your customers don’t have to take your word about your product. They can do what they do best: listen to their friends. Using user generated content lends an air of authenticity to any claims you make about your brand. It’s one thing for you to think your product is great, but it means a lot more when someone else does. Take advantage of that simple fact.

To kick off a campaign using user generated content, you simply need an idea and an entry point for customers to participate. We have plenty of ideas to get you started, or would love to hear what you have been successful with in the past. Share your thoughts here or reach out to one of our social specialists for ideas.

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