Building customer feedback systems into your marketing is essential. Building customer collaboration into your marketing process is the next natural step. Almost every marketer acknowledges that customer feedback is important.They may also acknowledge that it is the best way to drive innovation, and to ensure that their business is at the forefront of change.
However common barriers to running customer generated content campaigns tend to be in either 2 categories
- Risk – damage to brand if things get out of control, less control over the process
- Resources – Not enough people to monitor, cost of driving results etc
However, if there is judicious use of social channels such as Facebook, existing systems can do the heavy lifting for you. The most common user generated content campaigns have a few common core elements;
- The user creates and posts an asset through a channel you have some control over.
- There is a voting/rating mechanism so other users can promote the best/most interesting content
- There is a sharing mechanism, so that the best content can be spread, and users can share their own content
- The campaign should have some broader appeal or message
Sample collaborative marketing campaign;
- Set the rules up front about appropriate uses of the channels.
- Customers take pictures of themselves exercising and post them to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram
- Incentives offered to the best images (most shared/most liked etc)
- Use traditional advertising on Adwords/Facebook/LinkedIn promoting the number one photo each day to your target demographic.
User feedback is the campaign
Instead of building a campaign that has one controlled message, with a specific reach and one medium. Use broader symbolism, metaphors, or emotion. Build your customers into the campaign and get them to build their own messages. There are plenty of ways you can build/receive feedback;
- News Tips
A good example of this is TEDx Portland where an agency developed an app that overlaid the word ‘Perfect’ over user-generated photos that were shared to Instagram and Twitter. In between talks at the conference the images were projected onto an impressive display where attendees felt like they were apart of making the entire conference “Perfect.”
Customers are the medium
Whatever you are promoting, customers are the way your message is spread. Word of mouth is the most potent and trusted source of information about products. When a customer posts to the campaign, or comments, they are naturally sharing the campaign. There are plenty of ways for your customers to spread the word;
- Comments on your website
Target used video to great effect asking for videos of high school seniors opening and reading letters from colleges and then packaging up the best ones into a compelling commercial.
Control less spread more
Don’t worry about good and bad too much. Obviously if the campaign gets out of control in a negative sense, you might have to back track or change a little. Focus on getting the program to as many people as possible, rather than imposing strict rules on the community. Your loyal customers will have an interest in the campaign’s success, so target your evangelists first.
A perfect example of this is Amazon reviews. Jeff Bezos has said that they are in the business of helping customers make the right buying choices, which includes keeping negative reviews. In the early days of Amazon, suppliers complained about the negative reviews. However Amazon kept them, saying that it helps their users buy the right products, which helps Amazon retain customers in the long term.
Use traditonal promotion/marketing to increase the reach of the customer’s message. Adwords, Facebook and LinkedIn advertising can be used instantly to promote the best, most viral messages. You can use Adwords remarketing to make sure you target the right people, or people who have already visited your site. LinkedIn advertising will allow you to increase the coverage within your target market.
Customers will analyse the program for you
Make sure that natural ranking/analysis is built into the program. Using voting/sharing as a measurement method means that the most sticky/viral customer ideas will spread the most, and be the most valuable. Comments or tweets will also add another dimension of feedback to the process.
What could go wrong?
There is a lot that can go wrong if you don’t know your market, or attempt to push an agenda that is overly focused on promotion. #McDStories became a by line for everything wrong with the fast food chain. #askjpm became a stick with which to beat JP Morgan. In both cases Twitter was not the right medium to ask for feedback on, and in both cases the causes was overly self promotional.