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Vow To Generate Content: Hotels.com Takes UGC Down The Aisle With Its Latest User Contest

August 30, 2019 Melissa Piccinich

wedding vows

First comes love, then comes video uploads. Hotels.com’s latest campaign takes user-generated content down the aisle. The #SponCon wedding contest will award a pair of newlyweds with a lavish honeymoon in exchange for Hotels.com brand promotion within the couple’s wedding vows.

To Have And To Hold And To Keep Your Content Bold: Hotels.com’s Latest Contest

Do you take this opportunity to post and win? Thanks to Hotels.com, engaged consumers are jumping for joy at the thought of maybe spending a little less on post-nuptial travel. The travel-booking site recently announced their latest user-generated content (UGC) event, a wedding-themed, social content challenge that launched on August 15. In order to participate in the Hotels.com contest, couples must incorporate Hotels.com into their wedding vows, record the moment in real time and share the video to Instagram or Twitter using the hashtag, #HotelsSponConVows.

hotels.com weddings

According to the brand’s site, the winner will receive $15,000 in the form of a $10,000 Hotels.com gift card and $5,000 Visa gift card to use towards the cost of travel and accommodations for their honeymoon. The contest is only valid for weddings taking place from August 15, 2019 to September 23, 2019 and entries will be judged on creativity and originality.

The honeymoon giveaway contest was strategically timed to coincide with Hotels.com’s brand partnership with Hulu’s new original show “Four Weddings and a Funeral.” The travel site was featured in the August episode, which depicted a Hotels.com sponsored wedding with branding appearing everywhere, from the bride’s veil to the wedding vows. Mike Wolfe, Hotels.com’s head of global creative said, “We’re always looking for new, creative ways to connect Hotels.com to what’s happening in pop culture and media in the lives of Millennial travelers.”

A Match Made In Heaven: UGC Meets ROI

As the older sibling of influencer marketing, UGC has evolved with the digital landscape. SocialMediaToday reported in 2018 that 80% of brand marketers believe UGC makes marketing more authentic. Of that segment, 48% agreed UGC humanizes marketing messaging.

UGC is proven to generate engagement. A 2018 survey from Stackla, the visual content engine, reported that 79% of consumers polled confirmed their purchasing decisions are highly impacted by UGC. Stackla also reported 56% of consumers surveyed want brands to promote UGC over any other asset type. According to Search Engine Journal, engagement that is a result of UGC is driving ROI in all verticals from food and beverage to apparel. Search Engine Journal also reported that brands from across all industries that commit to employing UGC as part of their marketing strategies have experienced an average of 161% growth in conversions, with the categories of apparel and accessories, health and beauty and food, and tobacco and beverages seeing increases of over 200%.

Why Brands Are Marrying UGC With Content Strategy

Content creation is still a challenge for many brand marketers. Brands must be able to scale the velocity at which they develop, produce and deliver content to be successful in today’s market. Gen Z and Millennials, in particular, seek visually engaging and unvarnished content when deciding what brands to support and which purchasing decisions to make.

UGC is content that is created by anyone but the brand and can result in the production of valuable assets that help the brand to achieve campaign objectives. Social media has evolved UGC and helped make brands more approachable than ever. A photo posted on Instagram tagging the brand and a tweet using a branded hashtag are both simple examples of UGC. UGC content can be testimonials, reviews, photos and videos of a brand’s products. Brands positioning UGC can boost their credibility, while also increasing the exposure of their products and services to new audiences from their brand’s greatest advocates and fans.

Brands Going Big With UGC Campaigns

  • doritosDoritos: This week, in an effort to attract Gen Z consumers, the popular snack-brand boldly launched its “Another Level” campaign, dropping its logo and any mention of its name from all social media and owned websites. According to Mobile Marketer, the new Doritos campaign is designed to inspire Gen Z consumers to develop and share UGC that illustrates what “another level” means to them.
  • Oreo: Just two years ago, Oreo dominated social media with its “Oreo Dunk Challenge.” The iconic cookie brand launched it sweepstakes encouraging consumers to post pictures and videos of themselves participating in their own dunking experience via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The Oreo dunk challenge had a simple mission: get millions of people dunking Oreo cookies in milk, while kindling childhood nostalgia.
  • GoPro: As the product itself is a content creating machine, GoPro makes use of its video camera technology by encouraging its product users to post UGC of their own extreme and adventurous to-dos. GoPro has set itself apart from other camera retailers in its approach to UGC. The brand has a dedicated webpage which features content created by product users, hosts an annual awards program showcasing best photo, video and editing content and promotes content challenges regularly based on specific experiences or inspired hashtags. The #GoPro hashtag alone has over 42.9M posts on Instagram.

Three Tips For Digital Marketers To Consider When Planning A UGC Campaign

Incorporating UGC into a holistic digital marketing strategy can help brands create product desire, build and showcase customer loyalty and establish a vast content library of creative assets. Before embarking on UGC tactics, here are some tips to consider:

  • Be open, not restrictive: When incorporating UCG into a content strategy, be sure to stay open minded. Although content created by consumers is relatable and genuine, it is not always professional. Marketers should not expect perfect lighting or staging in photos or videos. Instead, digital marketers should embrace small imperfections and remember that this content is designed to act as word-of-mouth promotion and ultimately, connect other consumers with your brand.
  • Keep the process simple: Across all verticals, there is one unifying trend: keep the process seamless. Brands should avoid a complex submission procedure for digital contests and lessen friction created by a complicated user journey. Also, keep instructions for participation clear so consumers are not intimidated by the required steps. Stay where your consumers are spending their time. For example, don’t push an Instagram user away from the app to your website in order to complete their entry or submission.
  • Consider creating user-inspired content: If the concept of managing a large quantity of content seems daunting, alter the approach. Instead of searching through branded hashtags and account mentions for content that fits your brand guidelines, take inspiration from UGC. Also, embrace interaction with UGC content by monitoring social feeds, commenting and asking questions to users to generate first-party data.

Many brands are already leveraging user-generated content to increase engagement and drive conversions. When it comes to UGC, the audience is the hero of creation. The content assets are authentic, relatable and most importantly, developed by real people. Brands are not simply creating campaigns though, they are forming platforms which are bringing fans together and fostering connections and stimulating conversations.

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About the Author

Melissa Piccinich

An innovative problem solver by nature, Melissa Piccinich is both experienced and passionate about the digital marketing industry. She has held a number of high-level positions within the real estate, mortgage, entertainment and digital advertising industries, including Director of PR and Business Development at NJ Lenders Corp. and Director of Communications & Government Affairs at Eastern Bergen County Board of Realtors. As Director of Content at Digital Media Solutions (DMS), Melissa demonstrates a strategic, creative and tactical approach when handling the thought leadership programs and marketing and communications efforts for DMS and its family of brands. She manages all conferences, sponsorships and event execution and plays a pivotal role in the creation of written, digital and video content for all campaigns. Melissa has consistently positioned the team at DMS as experts in performance marketing across multiple industries.

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