Everyone goes through what Lulu Gephart, REI’s manager of social and earned media, calls “content deserts.” There aren’t any campaigns or promotions going on, you’ve got nothing from your creative department, and finding something compelling to post is difficult. But, Lulu explains, at REI, they’ve developed a hashtag strategy that’s helped them capture user-generated content to use for the long haul.
For REI’s 1440 Project, they asked fans upload photos to a microsite or Instagram, tagging what outdoor activity they’re doing, where, and what minute of the 1440-minute day they’re doing it using #REI1440Project. And Lulu says, in just a few months, they gathered over 10,000 photos and over a half-million visits to the microsite.
Here are three key points from her presentation at our SocialMedia.org Brands-Only Summit:
- Your fans show the true side of your brand. The variety and authenticity of user-generated content they received couldn’t have been recreated by REI’s creative team. And with more advanced tools and social savvy customers than ever, Lulu says it’s not such a risk to let your fans define your brand anymore.
- Set the groundwork for legal requirements. On the microsite, fans agree to terms and conditions before submitting their content. Elsewhere, they ask fans in a direct and personal way. Lulu says that outreach isn’t just for getting permission, but also for opening up the conversation to hear the broader story behind the photo.
- Capture UGC in a structured way. Because they collected meta data and asked fans to tag information about each photo on the microsite, they can catalogue the content for specific uses. Now, if they want a photo of someone mountain biking in New England in the afternoon, they can find it.
Watch Lulu’s full presentation below.
Want to see more social media case studies like these? If you’re a social media leader at a big brand, we’d love to have you at our next Member Meeting in San Francisco, Feb. 4 to 5.