User-Generated Content: This Is How You Do It

superbowl doritosAh, the Super Bowl. Even if you don’t care much about football, you’re probably going to tune in for the commercials, right? The companies featured have sunk millions of dollars into airtime, writing, celebrity casting, special effects, and production. All this is done with the hopes that over 100 million people will see. It’s not just the Super Bowl for football; it’s the Super Bowl for advertising, too.

Some of the companies featured have become regular crowd pleasers. We can always expect to see something from Budweiser, GoDaddy, the latest movies, Pepsi, and probably a car company or four. When you consider that most of these companies paid $4 million or more just for the airtime alone, you have to wonder if there’s another way.

Doritos Found Another Way

Enter Doritos, with their $1 million contest for the best Super Bowl commercial. That money’s not going to one of the major corporations; it’s the prize for fans of the brand who win the vote for best commercial. Which means, essentially, Doritos will pay for the TV spot and $1 million dollars, while the entrants cover the casting, writing, and production of the videos themselves.

Already, we’re looking at sheer brilliance. In terms of money saved, Doritos has won the game, hands down. Still, they’ve done something even smarter than save money. The popular chip company will also earn themselves piles of social proof, and that’s something money can’t buy.

How User-Generated Content Wins the Day

When Doritos opened the competition to the general public, they received 5,500 entries. That’s 5,500 people who like the brand enough to put hard work into creating their own commercials. Of course, the $1 million dollar prize and a chance at a cool new job helps sweeten the deal, but that doesn’t inspire passion for the brand; it only inspires passion for the prize. Voters, also the general public (and probably Doritos lovers), can tell the difference between those who want to promote the company and those who just want to cash in. If you think this might not be the case, just take a look at the five finalists.

The full roster of contestants started the content weeks ago, which means Doritos has been getting Super Bowl play before the big day even arrived. The entrants were responsible for getting the votes needed to move to the next round, which means Doritos commercials flooded social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. The videos themselves are hosted on YouTube, which affords them even greater exposure.

As each round completed and entries were moved into the next phase, the competition grew more intense. A more intense competition means even more people saw the ads as votes were drummed up yet again. For the money spent, Doritos sure has gotten a lot of exposure, and this is all before the Super Bowl even arrived.

Using the Technique for Yourself

You may not have a million dollars to throw around, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make the most of user-generated content for your own company. Sometimes you can do something as small as offering a prize for a photo-caption contest. If you do have a great prize lined up, let your fans contribute their own stories about how your company has changed their lives. Sometimes you don’t even have to offer a prize to get your fans involved. Include your clients’ pictures on your site when they submit images of themselves using your products. Give them a space to leave reviews and testimonials so they can be sure their voices are being heard.

The most important thing, as Doritos has discovered, is to never underestimate the power of that user-generated content. Never take those voices or that social proof for granted. Sure, the other companies with commercial spots during the Super Bowl will reach the same number of people Doritos will, but they don’t have the weeks-long head start. Plus, they probably paid a boatload more money. Lastly, they don’t have the social proof that their ads will reach right to the hearts and minds of their viewing audience. Doritos is certain their ad will resonate with buyers, because those same buyers voted to get the winning ad shown in the first place.

photo credit: bokeh burger via photopin cc