Leveraging the Power of User Generated Content

This week, I read a really insightful article in Mashable that spotlighted a few marketing campaigns that successfully employ user-generated content (UGC) to generate brand awareness.

One fascinating example is this video where Ray-Ban created a real time mosaic using Instagram images from a three day music festival:

Another example from Pepsi leverages their longstanding association with NASCAR and driver Jeff Gordon to create 24 social media challenges for its fans. Tasks included sharing why they like Pepsi MAX over Coke Zero in 24 words (Jeff Gordon is #24) and Instagramming themselves with MAX and #24 gear. Users earned points and won prizes.

More than ever, consumers are connected by the products that make up the fabric of their daily lives and habits. It can sometimes feel as though our favorite pastimes are becoming part of our DNA. Over time, we become loyal and ardent ambassadors, and today more and more brands are using the content generated from these users and fans.

As Mashable suggests, one of the best ways to show off your product is to show real people embracing it. This had me thinking about just a few of the programs we have worked on here at the Altitude Group that have integrated user generated content.

Back in 2011, we worked on The Fiesta Movement, which, at its core, was a user-generated program. Ford enlisted agents, gave them Fiestas for 6-8 months (in our case, select radio talent) and tasked them to complete monthly “missions” which transported them and their Fiesta vehicle into communities, inspiring them into action.

The agents created content in blogs, pictures and interviews. The mission experiences were filmed and the captured content was distributed across multiple media platforms. In essence, the agents were sharing and showing the world what it’s like to own a Fiesta.

Ford empowered these agents to write the story that would become the Fiesta brands campaign. This tactic was the first of its kind in the auto industry and proved immenely successful.

We look forward to its evolutions as we brace ourselves for the 2014 Ford Fiesta. But user generated content doesn’t have be to so tangible as giving away cars. Check out what we did for Bermuda Tourism.

I believe that user-generated content can be employed in all mediums, not just that of the visual or social. By enlisting radio talent to endorse a product, we allow them to touch, feel and experience the product, then share that experience with audiences. That’s original authentic content. It’s one and the same.

Sure, our talent are compensated, but the beautiful thing about our radio talent is that they truly believe in the products they choose to endorse. That’s the only way it works. From a strategic perspective — or any marketing/sales perspective, for that matter — we here at the Altitude Group continuously challenge ourselves to develop new ideas that connect authentic passion to incredible products and brands. And that’s never more exciting than when users are in the driver’s seat.