User-Generated Connections: Effective Consumer Content in Social Media


With the rise of user-generated content, one of the biggest challenges facing digital marketers is losing control of brand image.

With the rise of social media, brands were excited about the opportunities this new network afforded, due in part to its low-cost. However, the direct-to-consumer experience of social media necessitated an evening of the playing field many marketing specialists didn’t anticipate.

Without the capital required for more traditional marketing strategy, brands found themselves navigating a marketing terrain that required innovation and consumer-understanding. Organizations that took this into consideration and developed social media marketing strategies that served to heighten the consumer experience online were the most successful. How to connect on a personal level is a problem many marketers today still puzzle over. This post examines how two brands rose to the challenge and launched successful social media marketing campaigns.

The early days of Web 2.0 saw user-generated content and social media networks dominate the digital scene. Social media in particular was perceived as the dawn of a new age, a method of connecting brands to the consumer base in an enduring, engaging manner. Additionally, social media provided organizations with an opportunity to access data about customer behavior and response that could be utilized to further micro-target and develop tailored messages for customers.

With so much open communication and interaction with customers, social media marketing originally proved to balance the scales. Brands suddenly found themselves struggling to be heard in the expanded sphere of marketing opportunities. Customers had the choice to reject brands they perceived as obtrusive. Transplanting conventional approaches to marketing into social networks ran the risk of alienating customers.

Brands are caught in the middle of a marketing tug-of-war in the social media age. As consumers now have the power to develop content, marketers become referees for brand perception. If marketers regulate consumer-generated content too strictly, the brand is perceived as opaque, which diminishes consumer communication. Alternatively, if marketers aren’t careful enough, the brand could be represented in a fashion that doesn’t correspond to the proper brand image.

The complications marketers face in developing marketing strategies for social media are intensified when considering the rapidly altering scope of technology. A study by IBM recently claimed that under 50% of of marketing managers felt prepared to meet the marketing challenges presented in social media. Despite these reservations, a CMO survey indicated that marketing managers are looking to double funds to social media campaigns over the next five years.

The outcomes of these studies indicate the complexities and prevalence of social media in today’s marketing mediascape. It’s beneficial to examine brands who have successfully incorporated consumer-concentrated marketing strategies into their social media marketing plans. By doing so, these brands curate engaged, transparent, and rewarding brand narratives for their customer base.

Proctor and Gamble’s Old Spice campaign is exemplary of a brand utilizing social media to successfully connect and engage with consumers. YouTube provided the forum for a coordinated campaign in which spokesman Isaiah Mustafa was recorded responding to customer questions and  comments.

Mountain Dew’s DEWMocracy campaign not only communicated with, but developed a new product entirely informed by, consumers via social media. Following the release of a promotional ad, consumers were given the opportunity to develop a new flavour of the soft drink, upload video content, and discuss the project online through comments, votes, and forums. The project was incredibly successful in terms of user involvement.

Both Proctor and Gamble and Mountain Dew engage with what is predicted to be the next wave of social media mania: video content. Cisco foresees that 80% of all consumer traffic will be video based by 2019. Brands must incorporate an interactive engagement with the consumer base into a natural, brand narrative in order to be successful in the era of social media.

Mountain Dew’s DEWMocracy used, successfully, a 2009 precursor to the concept of brand influencers. Influencers virtually embody the traits the brand desires customers to associate with that brand. In 2016, 95% of marketing professions attributed boosted brand awareness to influencer marketing, while 75% of marketers stated they felt influencer marketing provokes sales leads.

In 2017, engaging with a consumer base means generating a conversation with customers through social media networks. Additionally, as customer buying habits become more complicated and social media become more pervasive across various devices, brands need to be aware of how the needs of their target audience evolve across platforms and devices. A dual approach that incorporates both social media engagement and analytical tracking is the most effective approach to developing a successful social media strategy.

Negotiating the social media sphere can prove difficult for marketers. However, by developing a dialogue of engagement and user-created content with your consumer base, your brand can develop a rewarding marketing strategy. Establishing a user experience that is involved lends a value to the consumer that goes beyond material revenue.

A version of this article can be found here at the 3XE Digital Conference blog.




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