I chose to analyze the use of Instagram by Nike, Adidas and Under Armour.
I am sure everyone is familiar with these 3 iconic sports apparel brands so I will jump straight into my research questions:
- How can Nike, Adidas and Under Armor better utilize Instagram to boost user-generated content (UGC) and increase consumer engagement?
- How can Nike, Adidas and Under Armor better utilize Instagram to boost user-generated content (UGC) and increase e-commerce sales?
Current Use of Instagram
Based on tracking the brands’ current use of Instagram, Adidas and Nike post an average of 6 posts a week while Under Armour is more aggressive with about 10 a week. In terms of ‘likes’, Nike gets the most at about 250-300k per post while Adidas gets about 72-82k and Under Armour, which is relatively new compared to the other 2 brands, gets about 25-35k.
In terms of content, all 3 brands seek to advocate a lifestyle of health and fitness with the majority of posts featuring athletes in the midst of intense workouts. All 3 brands also frequently post content featuring their celebrity endorsers.
One key difference is the fact that Nike focuses a lot on its products, with its sneakers featured with a stunning backdrop, Adidas and Under Armour on the other hand, emphasis more on people and overcoming adversity and the ‘impossible’.
All 3 lack in follower participation and engagement, which my study seeks to address.
The proposed initiatives will be targeted at Millennials, defined as those aged 18 to 34, given their massive purchasing power in the e-commerce space and huge exposure to social media.
Studies have shown that 64% of Millennials want more options to share their opinions about brands and one way marketing is essentially a way of the past and if companies truly want consumers to care about their products, opening up a two-way back-and-forth conversion using UGC is a foolproof way to boost engagement.
It has also been proven that when it comes to making purchases, Millennials trust UGC 50% more than other forms of media. Additionally, UGC campaigns have proven to be 20% more influential on purchasing decisions than other types of media. Very successful campaigns have also been held by Lululemon (#thesweatlife), Burberry (The Art of the Trench) and Nike previously (PHOTOiD).
Proposed Strategy 1: Continuous UGC Engagement
This strategy involves dedicating a subsection of the brands’ websites to UGC, while also featuring UGC on their Instagram pages. If consumers want their photos to be featured, they can add a unique hashtag, such as #ImpossibleIsNothingFeatures for Adidas. The photos should embrace the unique brand strategy of the individual company to ensure increased brand awareness. For example, the theme of Adidas’ photos could be ‘Impossible Is Nothing’ and pictures should embrace this theme, such as an athlete dressed in Adidas apparel and overcoming the tough terrains climbing up a mountain. Thereafter, a dedicated team will screen these posts to avoid disruptive or irrelevant posts before linking these photos to the aforementioned subsection. This initiative will not only motivate consumers to frequently upload photos of them working out in the brands’ products, but also enhance brand awareness.
This effectively creates a constant UGC catalogue for the brands with consumers implicitly endorsing the products. Such customer-generated catalogues are very useful in helping potential customers make informed decisions by showcasing how an average customer, compared to a professional model, will look wearing the brand’s apparels, increasing credibility and aiding purchase decisions.
Proposed Strategy 2: UGC Competition Campaign
Leveraging on the characteristics of Millennials, as well as trends and best practices provided above, Nike, Adidas and Under Armour should implement a UGC competition campaign on Instagram to boost engagement and e-commerce sales.
The competition will allow fans, consumers and potential consumers to customize and design the brands’ iconic sneakers and upload the photos on Instagram with a unique hashtag.
A dedicated subsection of the brands’ websites should also be created to allow these photos to be uploaded, with links to the Instagram photo available for people to ‘like’ and vote for their favorite designs. The top three designs, based on ‘likes’ on Instagram, will win attractive prizes and have their designs actually manufactured in limited predetermined quantities.
Implementing such a competition will create hype and increase awareness of the brands’ iconic products. It will not only foster engagement with the brand, but it could also allow these companies to also identify key trends and leverage on consumer creativity to potentially boost product offerings.
Limitations and Future Research
One key limitation is the fact that even though the apparel brands above have successfully executed such UGC campaigns, this success cannot be generalized – Nike, Adidas, and Under Armour are not guaranteed to experience increased engagement and sales. However, the brands have key similarities, such as portraying a certain lifestyle and selling iconic products, which increases the likelihood of replicating such success.
A key aspect of UGC-focused marketing is user-engagement. Hence, it will be very interesting to explore if these proposed strategies will be as effective on smaller brands with a much smaller consumer or user base.
It will also be interesting to explore if such strategies will work on other retail industries, such as consumer electronics, which may or may not have such iconic products, as photos posted may not provoke the same level of discernibility.
Thank you very much for reading. #smusocialmediasingapore