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Newsletter: #979: The “Ask Your Fans” Issue

[Welcome back to the Damn, I Wish I’d Thought of That! newsletter. This is text of the great issue all of our email subscribers just received. Sign yourself up using the handy form on the right.]

The term “user-generated content” sounds ironically robotic. Why? Because when your fans contribute something to your brand, it makes them feel more connected to your company and like they’re a part of the family — not a “user.” And if you can tap into that fan participation, amazing things happen.

Here’s how you can do it:

1. Ask them to teach you something
2. Ask them to tell their story
3. Ask them to personalize your stuff
4. Check it out: String Spin

1. Ask them to teach you something

GE science fair

Photo thanks to Team Flamable on Vine.

People love sharing DIY and how-to projects. And even though GE isn’t a DIY company, it doesn’t mean they can’t earn word of mouth from it. Last year, the company asked people to submit short videos of at-home science projects for a “six-second science fair.” Why? Because it’s fun, it gets people excited about science, and it starts new conversations about GE.

The lesson: Even tech-heavy, BtoB, or complex companies can ask their fans to teach them something. Even better, when you do, it shows off how smart and savvy your fans are — and everyone likes to feel smart.

Learn more: #6SecondScience Fair

2. Ask them to tell their story

Nutella Stories

Photo thanks to Nutella.

For their 50th anniversary, Nutella asked their fans to share their own stories about the company’s product. The results were pretty amazing. One customer even said Nutella was a bright spot in her and her family’s lives in Georgia during their country’s harsh civil war in the 1990’s. That’s a compelling story Nutella never would have heard if they didn’t ask.

The lesson: Your customers might surprise you with some of the great stuff they have to talk about. Don’t be afraid to ask — if a hazelnut spread can do it, you can too.

Learn more: Nutella Stories

3. Ask them to personalize your stuff

U-Haul fan photos

Photo thanks to MediaPost.

You know what’s better than a big ad on the side of your company trucks? Your fans’ photos. That’s why U-Haul is changing their company truck design to include photos sent in from their customers on moving day. Imagine how many people each person will tell about getting their photo on the side of a U-Haul van — that’s a much more remarkable design than a branded paint job.

The lesson: You have an opportunity to make your fans feel famous. How are you giving them the spotlight?

Learn more: MediaPost

4. Check it out: String Spin

String Spin

Photo thanks to zefrank.com.

Draw anywhere in the box and watch your scribbled lines turn into something pretty when you spin them.

Check it out: zefrank.com

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