You can’t find a much better example of a large US corporation using UGC to reach its customer base than American Express. It came up with the Small Business Saturday movement, and since 2010 has grown it into a global phenomenon.

It takes place just after Black Friday and Cyber Monday (this year, it’s November 28th in the US and December 5th in the UK) and encourages consumers to visit the small businesses in their local area. #Shopsmall is designed to act as an antidote to the mass consumerism, faceless capitalism and infinite queues outside Walmart that those two shopping days usually spawn.

Even Barack Obama generated his own UGC by tweeting his support. - Highlight to share -

The special day was part of activating its Start Booming campaign that was launched to celebrate small businesses’ role in kick-starting the economy as a new creative platform for American Express OPEN (AmEx’s small business service).

It means that American Express can target two segments of potential customers: small businesses that could be tempted to bank with the company, and individual customers who could, you guessed it, also be tempted to use its services.

It was a great success. In the second year, five thousand small businesses took part and 103 million Americans shopped in local small businesses on the day. And the UGC was impressive: Small Business Saturday brought about 2.7 million ‘Likes’ on Facebook and it was a top trending topic on Twitter. Even Barack Obama generated his own UGC by tweeting his support.

Small Business Saturday is also a success in the UK. In 2014, 16.5 million adults supported a small business on Small Business Saturday and 64 per cent of the UK were aware of the campaign. It trended at number one on Twitter on the day and got around 3.5 million views on its Facebook page.

Amazing campaigns give the original audience a reason to promote the campaign beyond themselves to others. - Highlight to share -

American Express was masterful in promoting the event; it launched an ad campaign which targeted small business owners; and provided participating small business owners with free Facebook ad templates, tweet and email texts that promoted the businesses and American Express at the same time.

Small Business Saturday is an excellent model for generating UGC. It gives customers – small businesses – an incentive to promote the day to their clients.

That’s exactly what makes for an amazing campaign: give the original audience a reason to promote the campaign beyond themselves to others.

Subscribers get our content first Plus exclusive stuff and plenty of good vibes.
Give it a try — it only takes a click to unsubscribe.
The corporate beginnings of Small Business Saturday