There’s something really appealing about the notion of getting consumers to create their own ads about your products. For one thing, you’re not spending any money on production; and the consumer is (at least theoretically) truly engaging with your brand.There are a few potential problems with the approach, however, as GM found when they invited consumers to make their own commercials for the Chevy Tahoe. “Me not going to toe the corporate line.” You’ll find some, um, interesting examples on YouTube here and here.
If you are going to give the consumer the keys to your new SUV, here, courtesy Max Kalehoff and Pete Blackshaw, are ten commandments to enable you to (in their words) “tap the spontaneous passions of loyal consumers to create or explore entirely new formats for creative expression.” Good luck with that.
1. Connect The Program To Larger Business Goals: Ensure that the consumer-generated part of your strategy fits in with the goals and objectives of the rest of your marketing, and create a measurement framework for program planning, tracking, adjusting and evaluating. A consumer-generated campaign is not a license to veer into irrelevance or sloppiness.
2. Keep It Authentic: Leverage the full creative power of the participants and don’t limit their creative. The traditional media framework for inserting creative is losing its effectiveness, even among the pros. Allow for flexibility in shape and form and – and even allow for raw spontaneity where you can.
3. Be Transparent: Don’t play fast and loose with the fact that the brand facilitated content creation. Avoid a potential backlash by being completely transparent – no stealth tactics here.
4. Encourage Advocacy: Don’t be shy about allowing entrants to vote for their favourites and encourage their friends and family to vote. This builds momentum around the campaign, and ensures that (hopefully) the best content rises to the top. 5. Empower Syndication: Make it simple for people to upload their content, simple to share and simple to embed on blogs and other community and video platforms. Let the people become the distribution and evangelical pipeline.
6. Tap The Long Tail: Don’t hesitate to reach out to everyone who takes part. Embrace them as passionate and loyal stakeholders, and use your Web site as a repository for their rich content.
7. Capture The Moment: Capitalize on “great brand moments” when consumers are highly vested and more likely to advocate, such as new product launches, purchases, or (gasp) actual brand use and enjoyment. This will help passionate, credible and authentic storylines rise to the top.
8. Be Consistent: If you create an environment of dialogue and interaction, stakeholders will notice inconsistencies in other areas of your business. While the campaign may end, its equity around “participation, community and feedback” may live on. Decide beforehand if your brand’s cultural values, resources and commitment can live up to the challenge after the campaign ends.
9. Embrace Criticism And Deprecation: You’ve got to take the bad with the good. While a good strategy will acknowledge and plan for detractors, the reality is that everyone is empowered to publish. Get over it – leverage criticism or deprecation as a gift of feedback and opportunity. (Cue whistling, “Always look on the bright side of life …”)
10. Move From Campaign To Platform: Campaigns may have clear beginnings and endings, but there may be dimensions of your program that you want to have a life after the campaign. Look for opportunities to provide longevity and continuing brand engagement.