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The biggest factor that drives the most sales for companies is word-of-mouth marketing. It’s essentially free advertising in the form of positive recommendations and reviews from consumers to other people they know.

The digital equivalent of word-of-mouth marketing is user-generated content, which a number of companies have already successfully taken advantage of in their promotional campaigns.

Essentially, any videos, photos, reviews, or testimonials from consumers are considered to be user-generated content, which helps companies increase trust and acts as social proof to other potential consumers. Thus companies can utilize user-generated content to generate more sales.  

Apple 

Several years ago, a number of consumers started complaining that Apple’s iPhones had poor camera capabilities, especially in dim environments. To try and mitigate the barrage of negative comments, Apple decide to launch a brand new campaign titled #ShotOnIphone.

For the campaign, the brand decided to utilize user-generated content so it could regain the trust it had with consumers, boost awareness, and improve brand sentiment about it from the target audiences.

All Apple had to do was encourage all of its iPhone consumers to share the photos they’ve taken on iPhones online, and to use a branded hashtag for the chance to get featured on Apple’s own Instagram profile.

Over 24 million posts were made, featuring the hashtag for the campaign, and Apple successfully regained the trust it previously had from its consumers, while showing off user-generated content and highlighting how powerful the iPhone’s camera really was. 

Doritos 

For several years, Doritos has been promoting its annual Legions of Creator’s campaign with a dedicated website that encourages consumers to create and share their own branded photos and videos.

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The best part about the campaign for the consumers is that they can win prize money from Doritos.

There have been a number of different design challenges that the company has given its audience, which utilizes the consumers’ creativity while also generating thousands of unique user-generated pieces.

For certain challenges, the brand asked consumers to create recipes using Doritos, while for others, they had to create memes featuring the brand. This successful campaign has increased brand awareness for Doritos, while also giving consumers an opportunity to build a sense of community around the brand. 

Glossier 

The popular beauty brand decided to grow its consumer base and drive more engagement by utilizing user-generated content in the form of tweets, photos, and reviews on its Instagram profile.

One of the best examples of utilizing such content from the brand came when it shared a five-star review of a solid perfume by Glossier.

It included this review in the announcement for that product’s comeback. This strategy helped the brand build more hype for the restock, created social proof, and practically guaranteed that the product would be making a lot of sales as soon as it was restocked.

The brand also incorporates reviews into its content by sharing direct quotes from them in the captions of Instagram photos. Instead of sharing the complete review, Glossier selects a few sentences and then combines them with the brand’s own messaging.

This way, it’s able to further support its claims about its products with the words of consumers who have had positive experiences with them. 

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Ronn Torossian is the founder and CEO of 5W Public Relations, one of the largest independently-owned PR firms in the United States. With over 20 years of experience crafting and executing powerful narratives, Torossian is one of America's most prolific and well-respected Public Relations professionals. Since founding 5WPR in 2003, he has led the company's growth, overseeing more than 175 professionals in the company's headquarters in midtown Manhattan. With clients spanning corporate, technology, consumer and crisis, in addition to digital marketing and public affairs capabilities, 5WPR is regularly recognized as an industry leader and has been named "PR Agency of the Year" by the American Business Awards on multiple occasions. Throughout his career, Torossian has worked with some of the world's most visible companies, brands and organizations. His strategic, resourceful approach has been recognized with numerous awards including being named the Stevie American Business Awards 2020 Entrepreneur of the Year, the American Business Awards PR Executive of the Year, twice over, an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year semi-finalist, Metropolitan Magazine's Most Influential New Yorker, and a 2020 Top Crisis Communications Professional by Business Insider. Torossian is known as one of the country's foremost experts on crisis communications, and is called on to counsel blue chip companies, top business executives and entrepreneurs both in the United States and worldwide. Torossian has lectured on crisis PR at Harvard Business School, appears regularly on CNN & CNBC, was named to PR Week's "40 under Forty" list, is a contributing columnist for Forbes and the New York Observer, and his book, "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results With Game-Changing Public Relations" is an industry best-seller. A NYC native, Torossian lives in Manhattan with his children. He is a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO), and active in numerous charities.