How Retailers Are Winning the Holidays With User-Generated Content

holiday content

’Tis the season for cutting through the clutter – cost effectively

As our good friend and Mashable CEO Pete Cashmore said, “Attention is the new currency.” Retailers are perhaps never more aware of this than during the final push of the holiday season, when every brand is vying for attention, and every billboard, ad and social graphic is wrapped up in a glittery red bow (often literally). Brands are marketing to consumers every second of every day, and people are becoming numb to your constant chatter. So, what now?

The good news is that while online shopping continues to drive sales for retailers, the brick and mortar stores still have some appeal – especially when user-generated content is in your arsenal. Done right, user-generated content is a wicked tool to help your brand stand out in the crowded social media environment (You think the mall is bad… spend 20 minutes scrolling through Facebook, yikes!).

Hold up – what is user-generated content?

User generated content (UGC) is content that has been authentically created and posted (without pay) by your audience. That’s right, don’t skim over that parenthetical, we said without pay. This content includes pictures, blogs, videos, recommendations and testimonials. Smart retail brands are leveraging UGC on social media as a way to grab attention and convert that attention into sales.

Why is UGC so freaking effective? (Hint: a little help from friends)

Many retailers simply post pictures of products that loudly encourage us to “Buy now!” Or they offer up special “limited-time” deals and discounts hoping to entice. But UGC goes a step beyond and actually works in terms of engaging an audience. Here are the stats on how:

  • 92 Percent of consumers turn to people they know for referrals above any other source (brands included)
  • 88 Percent of consumers trust online reviews written by other customers as much as they trust recommendations from their personal contacts
  • 84 Percent of consumers trust peer recommendations above all other sources of advertising
  • 74 Percent of consumers rely on social media to inform their purchasing decisions

So yeah. People trust people – waaaaay more than brands. Can you blame them?

How brands are killing it with UGC this season

We’ve spotted both national and local brands that are rocking UGC this holiday season in all the right ways. Here are a couple of our favorites:


Target has been taking advantage of its holiday foot traffic by adding an in-store photo booth and encouraging shoppers to use the hashtag #TargetFun. The photo booth, complete with a wreath and LEGO Santa, is actually a LEGO chimney that you can appear to hilariously tumble down with a simple camera rotation. And of course, the booth features the subtle touch of the cute and hella recognizable Target dog with his brand-advocating bullseye. Thousands of customers can be seen engaging and having #TargetFun on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. (Like Target really needed one more reason for consumers to love it.)

target holiday post

Akron’s Northside Marketplace 

National brands aren’t the only retailers taking advantage of UGC. Akron’s very own Northside Marketplace has a clever UGC strategy in place this season. Customers of this new retail space are encouraged to leave a message on the chalkboard wall while they shop and then take a picture with the word AKRON behind them. This drives customer engagement and showcases the amazing Akron pride, all while supporting our incredible small business community. (Just be prepared for lots of duck lip selfies… an unavoidable byproduct.)

northside marketplace holiday post

Have a great holiday season!!