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Make this Christmas authentic

Festive advertising is expensive and overpopulated. Can brands differentiate themselves from the crowd with authentic campaigns?   It is that time of year again. As far as holiday season’s go, Christmas is the big one. At least from a marketing perspective. A host of companies vie to have the de facto Christmas advert, hoping to…

Festive advertising is expensive and overpopulated. Can brands differentiate themselves from the crowd with authentic campaigns?  

It is that time of year again. As far as holiday season’s go, Christmas is the big one. At least from a marketing perspective. A host of companies vie to have the de facto Christmas advert, hoping to persuade the public to shop with their brand in the process.

From John Lewis to Coca-Cola, the festive season is peak time for marketing and increasing profits. Just last year, £5.6-billion pounds was spent on festive digital advertising alone. This time of year is when the big hitters bring their A-game.

With so many companies competing for advert space – both online and offline – standing out from the crowd is no easy feat. Marketers need to find ways to create compelling campaigns that resonate with their audience.

The rise of peer reviews and consumer interaction has led to more user-generated content (UGC), which is now seen as a genuine method to promote a product. Is it time for more authentic imagery in Christmas communications?

Audience know-how

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Consumers are more tuned in to the sales process. 81 percent of people research a brand thoroughly before making a purchase decision. And the festive season only acts to intensify consumer know-how. Word of mouth and online reviews rule the roost.

Somewhere along the line, companies lost their audiences trust, coming across as cold, corporate and conventional. The three C’s of marketing no one wants to be associated with. Consumers wanted more. The answer was UGC.

UGC isn’t a new trick pulled from under the hat of a savvy marketer. Born out of online forum discussions, its evolution over the last 10 years is leading a seismic shift in the way companies market to their audience.

A host of brands have already embraced this marketing method, with Santander, Apple, Calvin Klein and Coca-Cola all jumping aboard the UGC Express. You can see why it’s so appealing when brand engagement increases by 28 percent for UGC-featured campaigns.

Showing real emotions

Christmas is a time for family, friendship and coming together. Which is why UGC acts as the perfect toxin for brands to resonate with their audience and make them feel part of the product. If ever there was a season for inclusivity, it’s the festive one.

UGC is as much about building trust with customers as it is reaching an end goal of selling a product. The best ad campaigns are ones that play on viewers’ emotions, whether through comedy, drama or feel-good moments.

Sure, an actor can play a role, or a photographer can capture a glitzy stock image, but in today’s media-heavy world, customers want to see genuine emotions. UGC provides a sense of weight and cuts through the noise, offering real content from real people.

Make it a Merry Christmas (campaign)

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Starbucks’ Red Holiday Cups is one of the most well-known UGC campaigns. It was initially launched after the success of their 2014 White Cup Contest. Using the #RedCupArt hashtag, people were encouraged to share their customer Christmas cup designs on Instagram.  

In two weeks, the coffee company received over 40,000 submissions, choosing the best designs to feature on cups in store. Proof that a simple request can engage thousands and get them talking about a product.

UPS created the #WishesDelivered campaign to encourage people to share their wishes. They ranged from simple requests like delivering a Christmas tree, to heartfelt moments that helped families reunite for the seasonal holiday.

The company donated $1 to charities for each wish received, and has its own microsite where people can leave their wishes. Now in its third year, #Wishesdielived has so far generated over 100-million views and more than three-million likes.

Social media mistletoe

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UGC has provided social media managers all around the world with a new lease of life. Even when major brands focus on the Blockbuster ads for their latest seasonal offering, their output across social platforms focuses on UGC-centric material.

More authentic content means greater engagement, likes and conversation through social channels. Sometimes all it takes is an adorable puppy picture in Christmas attire to get people commenting, liking and favouriting a post.

People can share their touching seasonal stories with a hashtag or send their own images to contribute to current campaigns. All these methods incorporate an element of inclusivity and reach that big-budget TV ads can’t.

Simple equations

The benefits are clear. Companies that make their audience feel like they’re part of the brand stand a greater chance of building a long-term relationship. With 1.8 billion photos uploaded to social media every day, the sheer number of imagery available is staggering.

That’s not to say that all of those images are the perfect fit for a brand, but it does mean options are plentiful. For those slightly in awe at the idea of searching through such vast numbers for imagery, or concerned about the legalities involved with licensing, Lobster can do the heavy lifting for you.

Holiday season bonanza

The holiday season is one of biggest opportunities for brands to improve customer relations. With so many companies throwing large sums of money to make the best Christmas campaign, many others can tunnel a different route to success.

Brands that are tactful and find a way to engage, whether through genuine imagery or heartfelt moments captured on video, will stand out from the crowd. As we head into 2018, engagement is key.

Flashy adverts aren’t always the answer –  or at least they’re not the only answer. Especially when the question is ‘how do we better connect with our audience?’ When that’s the question, the answer should include more inclusivity.

For brands trying to involve their audience, the best gift their marketing team can give this holiday season is a user-generated one.

Make your campaigns stand out with authentic visuals.  Sign-up to a Lobster plan and gain access to the best images and videos from social media and beyond. 

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