Marketers have long struggled with garnering the trust of consumers. As digital opportunities advance, however, it’s possible to tackle this issue head on by actually utilizing the consumer as a brand ally.

This is done by way of user-generated content – creating strategies and campaigns around content posted online by consumers. Images are often the most shared and used by brands, but it can include reviews, text and check-ins as well. The way in which the content is incorporated into marketing messages varies, but it’s important to have a purpose and identify a call-to-action to outline clear consumer expectations. This is necessary whether it’s one big promotional campaign searching for the perfect branded image or a more casual, on-going strategy such as “Pic of the week.”


This form of content marketing increases trust through authenticity – it demonstrates the value placed on “real” consumers and transparent advertising. One of the numerous benefits resulting from this is increased engagement on social networks. It cultivates brand connection with consumers, as they are interacting online with the hope that they will create content worthy of marketing inclusion. This likely increases brand sentiment as well. And another positive for brands that turn to consumers for help in marketing and advertising? Less money spent!


Brands within all industries are utilizing user-generated content as a unique component of their social media marketing efforts. Below we highlight how Blue Moon Brewing Company, National Geographic Magazine and Doritos use their fans as part of their strategy.

Blue Moon: As a well-known beer loved by many, this brand shares fan pictures sent to them almost daily on their social networks. Yet they occasionally go on a more formal search for a specific type of content, as shown in this “Harvest Moon” campaign. Blue Moon offers value for consumers by way of simplicity and social connection: Who wouldn’t want to be the cover photo for their favorite beer brand?


National Geographic Magazine: Famous for their amazing, eye-catching photos, National Geographic Magazine created a Facebook app that allowed consumers to put their own image on the magazine cover. This user-generated content strategy pulled heartstrings – by way of countless baby pictures – and increased digital visibility. They were clear in the call-to-action and successful in improving social engagement levels.


Doritos: Although this is a much larger scale strategy – focused on multi-media – it still follows the same user-generated content concept as the others. Doritos “Crash the Superbowl” campaign asks consumers to submit their own Doritos commercial. Along with a monetary prize, the winner’s ad is shown during the Superbowl – increasing engagement and visibility for sure, along with brand affinity.

User-generated content will only become more relevant as brands and consumers place more of an emphasis on the digital sphere and opportunities subsequently increase. Contact ZOG Digital for all digital marketing solutions.