Word of mouth marketing campaigns are an engaging way to develop brand loyalty, trust, and conversation among potential customers. Below are four tips to kickstart your campaign and ensure that your efforts will positively shift customer perception and increase awareness of your brand.

Start with your employees 

Happy employees are oftentimes your most accessible brand advocates, and therefore a reliable and valuable resource to utilize when starting your word of mouth marketing efforts. These individuals know your brand best and can inform potential customers about your products and services both digitally and in person. Further, employees can easily and thoroughly answer questions their network may have about your brand, which can increase chances of trial, purchase, or conversion.

Create a structured system to educate employees on their advocacy options and watch buzz around your brand increase efficiently and cost-effectively.

Offer an incentive

People (employees included) are more likely to take an action or share something about your brand if they receive some sort of value in return. It’s all about mutually beneficial relationships! Examples of popular action-inspiring incentives include cash, discounts on future purchases, exclusive access to upgrades or new products, gift cards, and promotional items.

Referral programs are another well-known incentive embedded into word of mouth campaigns, as they offer customers a reward when they share positive information about your brand. Airbnb is an example of a company that implemented a structured referral program to incentivize customers to spread their positive sentiments towards the brand. One of their past models encouraged existing customers to invite friends to join Airbnb by giving both the sender and the recipient a $25 travel credit when the user completed their first trip. As a result, Airbnb gained 300% more bookings and sign-ups than before the referral program was implemented. Further, their company found that the customers they gained through referral programs booked more reservations, became hosts more often, and referred more users.

With the right strategy, an incentive can help you not only reach new customers, but loyal ones, as well.

Build a close knit community

Social media is another great tool. Strong, engaging content tends to reach customers outside of your follower base through retweets, tags, shares, or reposts, which can spark curiosity, create additional brand awareness, and inspire conversation. Nike’s Twitter support account, @NikeSupport, is a great example of a brand that has successfully used their platform to make it easy for customers to engage. By consistently answering customers questions in a timely fashion, the brand’s social media platform has become a portal for building customer trust.

Engaging with platforms that host online consumer reviews such as Amazon or Yelp, or building your own, is another great way to converse with customers. 62% of consumers search online for reviews and information before purchasing a product. Further, it has been suggested that 88% of people trust online reviews written by consumers as much as recommendations from personal contacts.

Business reviews and strategic social communication can both work in tandem to help shape and bolster a company’s online reputation. By meeting customers where they are, brands can not only join the conversation, but also, listen and learn about their customers and their needs, as well.

Connect with micro influencers

Micro influencers, oftentimes doubling as student brand ambassadors, are individuals with a strong following and power to influence the beliefs and behaviors of potential customers within your key demographic. These individuals will ideally serve as the face and voice of your brand among their networks, making your products and services more accessible, relevant, and appealing.

When selected carefully, these individuals can also work to authentically support existing marketing efforts by creating on-brand social content, sharing reviews of your product offerings or services, and providing exclusive discounts to interested consumers. Research shows that 40% of people say they’ve purchased an item online after seeing it used by an influencer on Instagram, Twitter, or YouTube, which shows just how impactful and rewarding their presence can be. Work to establish expectations with these influencers and equip them with the tools to represent your brand, and you’re bound to gain the eyes and ears of an impressionable new audience.

In summary, whether your leveraging employees, micro influencers, or customers, you’ll want to make sure that you’re providing them with something valuable in exchange for their time. Once you’ve created a word of mouth marketing strategy to attract new customers and keep your brand advocates happy, you’ll be surprised at how easy it is for your word of mouth marketing campaign to grow to new and unforeseen heights.

Want more? Check out these blogs:

How can YMC help?

Want to launch a word of mouth marketing campaign with your brand but aren’t sure how to get started? Finding the right partner is key to your success. Here at YMC, we’ve been helping brands connect with 15- to 29-year-old consumers for two decades—we’d be happy to share our wealth of knowledge with you. Contact us today!

GAME. DAY. Football tailgates are fast paced, lively environments and are often a huge part of campus culture. Catching the attention of students in the middle of the madness can be a trying task. However, when tailgate sponsorships are done right, they can be the gateway to creating collegiate brand fans!

Here are six ways to ensure your tailgate sponsorship is a hit:

Create Shareable Moments

Sharing content to Instagram and Snapchat is top-of-mind for college students, especially during a tailgate. Since a student’s social following consists of both their on-campus and hometown networks, finding ways to naturally incorporate your brand is a huge advantage. Utilizing branded photo booth prop-signs is one way to create a shareable moment for students to utilize on their platforms. Leveraging the growing popularity of polaroid photos amongst Millennials, and supplying Instax cameras and branded FUJIFILM is another way to ensure that your brand will be featured on social media. A more subtle approach is to supply relevant promotional items as they can be utilized in photos as well.

Incorporate an Interactive Activity

Students attend tailgates to have fun! Keep it light by providing an activity students can participate in that positions your brand as the life of the party. Cornhole, jumbo pong, and ultimate frisbee are just a few examples of popular tailgate games your brand could provide. Not only are these games elements easy to transport and cheap to produce, they can also be branded!  

Make Sign-Ups Easy

If your intention is to capture emails at this event, or opt students into your loyalty program, make sure the sign-up process is quick and easy! The attention span of students during tailgates will be short. If the sign-up process is long, students will likely give faulty information to cut down on time. If your system requires a specific password, be sure to reiterate this information to the student before they sign-up to cut down on time.

Incorporating an incentive in exchange for an email is always a smart move. It increases interest and can help reduce the number of fake sign-ups. Offering a reward that can be utilized in-store and online, or a discount with their first purchase, is ideal as these can be emailed out after the event. If you chose this route, be sure to wait at least 24 hours to send a the initial email or SMS message.

Try Guerilla Marketing

If you’re working with a tight budget, guerilla marketing could be the best bang for your buck! Some venues require payment to reserve a table or promote a brand on campus, but guerilla marketing lets you get scrappy. Not only is mobilizing a street team an easy way to avoid cost, it’s also a great way to ensure you reach the maximum number of students. At a table, you’re restricted to one location. Guerilla marketing allows you to go out and interact with students, rather than waiting for them to approach you! Just make sure you’ve hired the right campus reps to be the face of your brand.

Keep It Casual 

Students will be hesitant to interact with people taking themselves too seriously during a tailgate. To make sure that you don’t stick out in the wrong way, have all members of the team dress casually (it’s a tailgate—no one should be wearing a button down unless it’s an SEC frat). Additionally, provide value and don’t be salesy when speaking about your brand. No one attended this tailgate hoping to be sold something.

Branded Tailgate-Themed Promo Items & Product

Providing promo items that are tailgate-relevant can make an impact on campus all season long! Some of our favorites include footballs, hats, bottle openers, koozies, and stadium cups. Color coordinating the promo items and product with the home team’s school colors will increase the chances of students holding onto them for later use. Be sure to keep the items small as student won’t be able to bring large items into the stadium.

Want more? Check out these blogs.

How can YMC Help?

Want to bring your brand to campus but aren’t sure how to get started? Finding the right partner is key to your success. Here at YMC, we’ve been helping brands connect with 15- to 29-year-old consumers for two decades—we’d be happy to share our wealth of knowledge with you. Contact us today!

User generated content (UGC) is a constant player in the marketing world. By definition, UGC is any type of content that has been created and put out there by unpaid contributors or fans. To put it simply, it’s when someone promotes your product or service on their own social media channels. Their content could come in the form of an Instagram post, YouTube video, tweet, blog, online review, or many other mediums. 

UGC is authentic, organic, and trusted by Millennials. In a recent study, it was stated that 47% of Millennials trust UGC over content created by brands. As you can see, UGC is effective, but how can your brand encourage its customers and fans to create more content on the brand’s behalf? The answer is a user generated content marketing campaign. Below are six examples of campaigns that worked well for brands in the past.

Highlight a Lifestyle

There are multiple lifestyle brands that encourage customers to feature products on their personal social media channels. This encourages individuals to showcase how the brand is incorporated into their active lifestyles. For example, if you check out the L.L. Bean Instagram account, you’ll notice that they frequently regram customers who have featured L.L. Bean product in their Instagram posts. Customers are encouraged to post on their social channels using the hashtag #beanoutsider, which has generated 60k+ posts to date.   

User generated content

Host a Contest

Hosting a contest on social media is a popular way to generate UGC—that’s what the athletic apparel company, Outdoor Voices, did last year. Referencing their “doing things is better than not doing things” moto, they created an Instagram contest around #DoingThings. Outdoor Voices gave a lucky someone a year of leggings (one pair each month) in exchange for them posting a photo with the hashtag #DoingThings and following @outdoorvoices on Instagram. Even after the contest concluded, fans of the brand still use the hashtag #DoingThings when including the brand in their posts (91K+ posts to date).

Have an Evergreen Hashtag

Many brands generate content by promising to share UGC on their websites or owned social media channels, eliciting a competition among their followers. Madewell is a good example of this, “Share your Madewell denim love with us. Submit a photo here or on Instagram with #denimmadewell—we’re showcasing our favorite snaps.” Not sure if the denim will fit you correctly? Take a look at the hashtag and you’ll be able to see it on 23k+ girls with your size or style. Seeing denim on a variety of “regular” people is especially useful in encouraging purchase consideration.

User generated content

Have Seasonal Hashtags

MeUndies also features UGC on their account if a follower posts with their hashtag. The difference between their campaign and the Madewell example? MeUndies switches up the ask, and the hashtag, based on the season or product feature. For example, prior to Valentine’s Day, MeUndies posted, “Tag photos of you, your boo, and maybe your pooch too with #MatchMeUndies for a chance to be featured during V-Day Season.” Switching up the hashtag keeps the contests new and exciting, and allows the brand to generate seasonally relevant content.

Support a Movement

In a groundbreaking move, Aerie decided to discontinue the use of Photoshop in 2014 and has been a champion of body-positivity ever since. Their campaign #AerieREAL is about encouraging others to embrace their real bodies, be inclusive, and of course, no retouching. Aerie asks their users to “let the real you shine” and share how they are #AerieREAL through unretouched photos on social media. Aerie often utilizes this content on their own social pages, website, and even on images printed in stores. Also incorporating a charity aspect, Aerie recently donated $1 (up to $25K) to the National Eating Disorders Association for every unretouched swim photo shared on social media with #AerieREAL. 

Hire Brand Ambassadors

While many UGC campaigns are done organically, hiring brand ambassadors guarantees high-quality content and allows you more control over the narrative. Aerie taps into the social media savvy college demographic through their brand ambassador program. These brand ambassadors embody the #AerieREAL mindset, and promote Aerie on their social accounts to peers. They also encourage friends to post with the hashtag, which spreads the #AerieREAL message across college campuses. Express is another brand that has capitalized on student brand ambassador content and activations. Express finds that the content created by their brand ambassadors often generates higher engagement than content created by the brand itself. Hiring and training brand ambassadors often pays for itself by reaching new consumers, driving awareness, and increasing sales.

UGC is effective, relevant, and authentic. Each of the above examples show how UGC can be achieved in a variety of ways. It’s important to assess your brand and figure out what type of campaign works for your specific needs; whether that is a seasonal promotion, a charity component, or a contest. Figure out what resonates with your fans and let them bring your brand to life.

Want More? Read These Blogs

How Can YMC Help?

Want to reach the coveted Millennial and Gen-Z demographics by creating a user generated content campaign? Finding the right partner is key to your success. Here at YMC, we’ve been helping brands connect with 15- to 29-year-old consumers for two decades—and we’d be happy to share our wealth of knowledge with you. Contact us today!