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!

Sampling is one of the most effective ways to ensure that your product gets into the hands of potential consumers. Although sampling can be a great way to gain product exposure, it must be done strategically. Through a brand ambassador program, brands can leverage their ambassadors to host product sampling events on campus, specifically targeting key potential consumers within the collegiate market.

Here are five tips to running a successful sampling event on campus:

1) Relevance & Theme

Sampling events are typically straightforward—you distribute samples, students sample the product, and students (hopefully) convert. What turns sampling into conversion within the collegiate market, is relevance. Relevance can be created by activating and creating a theme for your product sampling event around key collegiate moments, including back-to-school, Spring Break, or graduation.

For example, a cosmetics company with a wide range of bronzing and body products may want to host a sampling event pre-Spring Break. By hosting the event pre-Spring Break, students will have the opportunity to sample the brand’s relevant warm-weather products such as bronzers, self-tanners, and moisturizers. The event’s proximity to Spring Break will help keep the brand top-of-mind while students are making their travel skincare and makeup purchasing decisions.

2) Product Selection & Size

This may sound obvious, but sampling events should always distribute sample size products. Some brands opt to distribute full-sized products in the hopes of building deeper brand loyalty, however this strategy can ultimately hurt sales. By distributing full-sized product, students are are less likely to head in-store and purchase—and why would they? They already own it!

In addition, selecting sample size products that fit into your event’s theme increases brand relevance and purchase consideration. Going back to the Spring Break example, distributing TSA-approved samples indicates to students that your travel-sized line is perfect for Spring Break.

3) Track Your Success

Through the use of various digital platforms, brands are able to track the success of their sampling events. Coupons are a great way to incentivize students to purchase full-sized product. When creating a coupon, it’s important to make redemptions trackable and unique to your specific program or event. In addition, you’ll want to make sure that the coupon is incentivizing enough—at least a 20% discount—and that it doesn’t compete with any better online or in-store promotions.

Most often, the best indicator of event success will be the sales generated. If you had an event at American University, check to see if there was a sales lift at nearby stores. By tracking the sales of your event, you will be able to determine if your sampling strategy was successful, or if not, how you can change you strategy to ensure future success.

4) Include an Acquisition Element

Students love samples and are typically willing to give personal information in exchange! If your goal is to collect more emails for future email marketing campaigns, an online sweepstakes is an easy way to organically collect those emails. Simply encourage students to sign-up for the sweepstakes in order to gain a sample. Alternately, if your brand is looking to increase their following on social media, implement a “Follow for a Sample” exchange. Both acquisitional tactics have proven successful at sampling events and will provide your brand added value.

5) Location, Location, Location & Time

Keep in mind that each campus you activate on is different! The best way to ensure that your event location and timing works for each unique campus is to ask students or have your brand ambassadors inform your decision. The ambassadors know what days and times are busiest on campus and which locations harbor the most student traffic. Work with your ambassadors to secure the event location and time at least two weeks prior to the event.

The last piece to consider? Hire passionate brand ambassadors and your sampling event will practically run itself!

WANT MORE? CHECK OUT THESE BLOGS

HOW CAN YMC HELP?

Want to get your product into the hands of Millennials and Gen-Z? 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!

Recruiting and selecting campus reps can be tricky business. It doesn’t matter how much strategy and thought went into the campaign—if you select the wrong campus reps, it can be detrimental. With different brands looking for different qualities in campus reps, it’s important to do your research. Here are the five qualities to look for in every campus rep.

1. Brand Fitcampus rep

To effectively represent a brand, it is vital that the student fits the brand. Every brand has its own personality—some are bubbly, pink, and fun, while others are green, wholesome, and all-natural. A campus rep for the former brand should come across as lively, feminine, and confident, while a campus rep for the latter brand should come across as environmentally conscious, inclusive, and genuine. In addition, potential campus reps should have interests and career goals that align with the brand. A student who is studying dermatology would be a great fit to represent a skin care line, while a student athlete would be great fit to represent an athletic wear brand. Finding a campus rep who embodies the brand doesn’t just lead to his or her individual success, it ensures the success of the entire program.

2. On-Campus Involvement

Strong campus reps are deeply involved on campus. Typically, campus reps are not freshmen; most first-year students haven’t yet developed a large enough network or the confidence needed to influence their peers. Upperclassmen tend to be more involved and have had the opportunity to take on leadership roles within their respective organizations.

Involvement in Greek life, in particular, is a major benefit. A sorority or fraternity chapter at a large school can have up to 400 active members, making it easy for members of these organizations to influence fellow members. In addition to Greek life, involvement in other on-campus clubs is very important. The kind of clubs that a student is involved in typically reflect their interests, which can help determine whether a candidate will be a good fit for a particular brand. Whether these clubs are academic, philanthropic, or social, these student groups make up a large and direct network that campus reps are able to influence.

3. Event Planning Experience

Event execution is essential to bringing a brand to life. Campus reps typically host 3-7 events per year to (re)introduce the brand, encourage student engagement, and create memorable moments with peers. For these events to be successful, having the proper experience is a must.

Campus reps must strategically determine where and when to host their events. Events executed in high-traffic foot areas typically perform better, as more students are able to directly interact with the brand and indirectly gain awareness. Prior event planning experience is particularly beneficial to informing these decisions. Students typically gain event planning experience from their involvement in on-campus organizations or through jobs and internships. Campus reps that not only have event planning experience but love the event planning process tend to execute their events at a higher level.

4. Digital Footprint

A great campus rep has a strong presence on campus and online—they’re micro influencers. Through their social networks, they are able to successfully reach and influence hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of their peers at once. This influence is created through an engaged social media following, a strategic and unique posting style, and an informed knowledge of the overall digital landscape gleaned from relevant internships and job experience. High-quality, brand-related posts often motivate and inspire like-minded students to further engage with the brand, increasing perception and purchase consideration for years to come.

5. Interview Skills

An interview further ensures that a potential campus rep is the correct fit for the brand. Interviews help you further understand the individual’s personality, evaluate how their experiences relate to the responsibilities of the position, and gauge their overall excitement towards the brand. The recruitment process is often lengthy, as finding the perfect candidates to meet the needs of both the campaign and the brand takes time. However, the benefits of hiring the correct candidates are exponential—a true influencer creates additional influencers, which can in turn take your brand’s awareness and relevance within the Millennial and Gen-Z market to the next level.

Many campus reps will go above and beyond the responsibilities of the position to ensure that the brand resonates with their peer networks. You’ll be able to easily spot this campus rep because of their outgoing spirit, expressed dedication to the campaign, and how well their aesthetic meshes with the brand. These reps can in fact be so on-brand and add so much value that they move into full-time positions with the brand following the completion of the campaign.

WANT MORE? CHECK OUT THESE BLOGS

HOW CAN YMC HELP?

Want to recruit campus reps that are the perfect fit for your brand? 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!