How User Generated Content can boost your brand during lockdown

Toby Britton looks at how hair and beauty brands can harness clients’ energy during lockdown.

Toby Britton We're weeks into an unprecedented lockdown situation. People all around the world are asking themselves, what's the use of getting dressed up with nowhere to go except to take the bins out? While it's true that the world immediately outside of our doorsteps has ground to a halt, social media shows no signs of let up- providing online connections where real-world connections are scarce. As the dust of the initial shock of lockdown settled, us humans quickly proved themselves as scarily socially adaptable in this new, isolated world, with many of us finding our diaries packed with video conferencing meetings, parties and even raves. This was definitely not, a time for slacking on self-presentation! 

Thankfully, familiar beauty regimes from our past, can provide structure, comfort and a vital lift to our self-esteem as the days merge into one another. What could possibly be better than a spot of self-care in uncertain times like these? 

Cue the beauty disasters. A quick Google search will take you to several very amusing listicles. It seems that plenty of people have decided that hairdressing can't be that hard, surely, and are taking matters into their own hands (along with clumps of hair). But although the beauty disasters are hogging most of the airtime, for brands listening closely there's a different story unfolding. 

Unless someone happens to be quarantined with a hair stylist or make-up artist, in this new world, what you see is what you get. Everyday people are taking to social media to share their isolation beauty tutorials, experimenting with new looks, reviewing new beauty products, and sharing tips to style out their usually salon-honed style. The smartest brands are building ethical relationships with these DIY beauty salon practitioners, using what is known as User Generated Content or UGC for short, to push their products on social media and at the point of sale. Generally speaking, UGC is pre-existing social media content created by unpaid customers. And in an industry that has traditionally not embraced authenticity (think airbrushing and high-profile celebrity endorsements) what could be more trustworthy than real people just like you sharing their glowing reviews of your product? 

Woman apply make-up demonstration on camera
Your customers are sitting at home, bored, with an excess of energy, and if you can provide a distraction and an outlet for their creativity, they might just love you for it.
The beauty and hair industry have an abundance of UGC due to its natural emphasis on visuals (selfie, anyone?), which can be both a blessing and a curse for marketers given the huge amount of noise and hashtag spamming. To save time and money, brands are using savvy content discovery platforms and other technologies to wade through the noise, apply smart filters, aggregate, curate and license the best UGC content for boosting their products in key parts of the online customer journey. And voila! No need to worry about dropping that flashy and expensive photoshoot in a far-flung location. 

Need more UGC? Stuck for ideas? Smart brands know that the most loyal and engaged customers want to get involved but need direction, not just a hashtag. Brands who play the game well and not just to shift products, win awards for creative, world-beating marketing campaigns. Your customers are sitting at home, bored, with an excess of energy, and if you can provide a distraction and an outlet for their creativity, they might just love you for it. Viral activities such as the trends to recreate famous paintings or iconic scenes from films using household items are taking off. Why not get your customers recreating looks or moods? After all, lockdown flies when you're having fun. 

Toby Britton is the co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer at Miappi, and has experience of working in creative and communications industries since the mid-nineties. Today, Toby oversees the design, development and marketing of Miappi.