Did you know that conversation candies were invented in 1866, and they first became available in heart shapes in 1902? It’s true. Daniel Chase, whose brother owned the New England Confectionery Company (NECCO), used vegetable dye to print words onto confections, like candy hearts. Did you also know the first words printed on a candy heart were “2019 will be the year of user-generated content”? Isn’t that amazing?!
Ok, ok, so that’s not true. The original conversation hearts actually contained phrases like “Be Mine” and “Kiss Me”, but it is true that people loved — and still love — visual conversation. Seeing your own thoughts, inspirations and feelings confirmed by images, like seeing “Love U” on the conversation heart your best friend gave you, reassures and reinvigorates people with authentic validation. It’s the feeling that Ad Council’s #LoveHasNoLabels website visitors get when they see a community of all types of genuine love reflected back at them. It’s the feeling that Leading Hotels of the World website visitors get when they see beautiful customer photos of the exact destination they’re looking to visit.
It’s the feeling I get when I scroll through Dunkin’ Donut’s social media feeds and I see they’ve dropped Dunkin-themed Valentines for me to give to everyone I know and also to everyone I don’t. It’s like they read my mind. It’s LOVE!
That’s why this year, we turned to our community on social media to gather up our own user-generated content (UGC) about what they had to say this Valentine’s Day. Going into a holiday all about love, be it toward yourself or others, we were interested to hear how our followers were really feeling about all this UGC talk. Do they love it? Would UGC be their Valentine? #WillUGCBeMine?
Q: What do you love about user-generated content?
— Stackla (@stackla) February 12, 2019
Our respondents seemed to be coming to an overwhelming consensus on the impact of connecting with an authentic UGC strategy. From being relatable to being trustworthy, it looks like there’s a whole lot to love about brands that leverage customer-created content in their brand marketing.
Q: What’s your favorite UGC campaign right now?
— Stackla (@stackla) February 12, 2019
The community pulled out some pretty exciting examples of UGC here. Between Frank Body, Busabout, Cirque du Soleil and Ad Council, it’s apparent that UGC campaigns are making a lasting impact on their audiences.
Q: What brand do you love creating content for?
— Stackla (@stackla) February 13, 2019
In the era of smartphones and social media, it can be tough to decide on just one brand that you post about the most. Often, we don’t think twice about the content we create that supports the brands we like. Our community came through with some interesting thoughts, and yes, I included my own UGC that I’ve posted on Instagram about my forever Valentine, Dunkin’. Obviously.
UGC is the one for you!
Across the board, consumers have shown a lot of love for user-generated content, and its efficacy shows. Not only are people receptive to the use of UGC across brand strategies, but they are loyal to specific brands and genuinely enjoy creating content for them. And our research backs those insights up. In fact, 86 percent of consumers say authenticity is most important when it comes to choosing a brand, and 60 percent of customers say that customer-created content is the most authentic.
For Valentine’s Day, brands should capitalize on this authentic customer support. Encourage and incentivize your customers to create Valentines-themed content about your brand. Like KFC, who is hosting a Reddit contest where participants can post their fan-created artwork to win a bear rug with Colonel Sanders’ head on it. It’s a concerning prize that will likely haunt your nightmares, but the fan submissions are generating a lot of buzz across Twitter. Or Panera Bread, who has unveiled its double bread bowl on Valentine’s Day, and it’s not by accident. Sharing a double bread bowl with a Valentine sounds ideal, and the limited-time availability ramifications are creating a sense of urgency and anticipation from Panera fans across social media.
Don’t miss out on this opportunity to strike up a conversation with your customers. Treat them like the year-round Valentines they are. In the words of Mary J. Blige, show them some real love!
From all of us over here at Stackla, Happy Valentine’s Day.