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Collaborative Content: Who's Doing It And Winning?
Collaborative Content: Who's Doing It And Winning?

Collaborative content marketing platforms are slowly becoming mainstream. Some forward-thinking brands have already started to leverage the good stuff from their online audience and are trailblazing the way for everyone else.

ModCloth customers’ feedback craze

Once a small online store, ModCloth is now a huge seller of vintage clothing from different brands.

What made them stand out from the beginning was that they had dozens of customer reviews on each item. Since most products were from unknown brands, this was crucial to their success.

Their online community, while niche, was large. They gave detailed descriptions of their experiences with ModCloth.

Customer comments on product quality, size and fit, all contributed to garment ratings and gave users candid feedback. They leveraged social proofing to give customers the confidence to trust unknown brands.

To this day, ModCloth’s website still has incredible interaction on new products, so users don’t have to rely on marketing information.

ALS: the challenge for awareness

Before 2014, who would have thought a charity could go viral?

Not even folks at the ALS foundation could imagine the success they would soon enjoy. It all started with a simple challenge: a bucket of ice. Each participant throws a bucket of ice over themselves and names three other participants to take up the challenge.

The action spread quickly through social media thanks to its uniqueness and simplicity. Celebrity participation also fuelled the hundreds of thousands of videos produced.

The end result was the donation of US$115 million towards the ALS cause.

From this example, there are a few lessons to be learned.

Keep it simple. A bucket of ice is something that can be easily reproduced. It was fun to participate and it was fun to nominate people to repeat the challenge. The 'pass along' code for virality was built into the format.

Make it a game. When you challenge a friend to an action it becomes a social bond. Social pressure from friends and family were big influencers on participation numbers.

Encourage people to connect. Content that allows people to reach out and connect with others increases share-ability. Fostering a sense of community is what drives people to interact more often.

Denny's humorous blog

Restaurants often use social media and content to grow their audience outside of business hours. Denny's, an American fast food chain, has an excellent blog that reaches people with humour. While Denny's is an outlier, there's a lot to learn from them.

Restaurants and all traditional businesses can and should have a persona.

Be authentic in your persona. It will put some people off, of course. And it should, because your business is not for everyone, it’s for specific people with specific needs.

Denny's has nailed it with a funny blog about all things food, creating content that appeals to the sense of humour of their younger target audience. But if your brand isn't funny, don’t try to be funny.

Maybe you have a classy restaurant and like informing people about new wines around the world. Or maybe you have an organic place and could be creating interesting content about locally grown produce.

Whatever your angle, every piece of content should be specifically tailored to reach and appeal to your intended audience.

All Recipes user contributions

This is a great example of a website that entices its users to submit content. All Recipes empowers consumers with their Staff Picks and Recipes of the Day. They also fuel their community by championing mouthwatering images and popular recipes.

Users can vote and comment on recipes, adding variations and tips.

Food has a well-known emotional connection and this community of cooks know how to tap into it.

All Recipes has identified this passion point that many people share and provided a friendly and simple user-experience for individuals from around the world to come together and explore that passion.

All Recipes monetizes their user-generated content by selling subscriptions to their magazines and advertising to third parties, including major supermarket chains.

National Association of Realtors and HouseLogic

Realtors took content to the next level by launching HouseLogic, an online magazine for homeowners and potential buyers.

HouseLogic has content across a range of subjects, from “Should I Sell My House?” to tips to “Save on Utilities”. Although the high-quality articles are not user generated, the fact that many industry experts contribute to the online magazine means the content is respected and appreciated by its audience.

They've managed to leverage a name for themselves as a big player in their industry which has facilitated quality user-generated content.

Garden Design’s pictures upload

Garden Design is an online magazine that blends user-generated content and articles from professional journalists.

Garden Design links to gardening events, has educational gardening articles, profiles the gardens of their users and even sells products through their site.

The integration of user-generated content brings up the question of moderation to maintain editorial consistency. To maintain standards, Garden Design ask users to respond to 11 questions about their garden and send a certain type of picture. This ensures the right type of content is available for each article.

Of course, this does mean that staff at Garden Design still need to spend a small amount of time with each one of these articles pulling the content together and making sure it is up to scratch and ready to publish.

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