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Chicago (September 5, 2014)—As timely as a tweet and invaluable as a Facebook birthday reminder, Mintel is back again with the latest social media trends update from social media analysts Gabi Lieberman and Lizz Martinez. They have identified and highlighted three new trends in online consumer marketplace behavior this quarter that are helping shape the social media landscape.

1. User-generated content: “Marc Jacobs launched its #CastMeMarc contest in April 2014. The contest sought Marc Jacobs’ next model for its fall line through Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag #CastMeMarc. The hashtag has generated more than 26,000 online mentions, and nine winners were selected. In April 2014, Lancôme merged user-generated content and loyalty rewards with its Elite Rewards program. People could join the free program and earn points by buying products, as well as by connecting and interacting with Lancôme USA through social media. Lancôme Elite Rewards members earn 10 points per dollar spent, up to 25 points for sharing products on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and up to 50 points when they connect with the brand on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Foursquare.

“Allowing consumers to insert themselves into brands helps drive interaction, as noted by the #CastMeMarc levels of participation. This also helps highlight brands’ core values in selecting participants that reflect their visions. Creating engaging content lets brands stay relevant to more tech-savvy users,” notes Lizz.

2. Using social media for social good: “Celebrities are involving themselves in causes and using their social influence for uses beyond just product promotion. The Avon Foundation for Women launched the #SeeTheSigns campaign in November 2013, a global social media campaign aimed at educating the public on recognizing the signs of domestic violence. Avon teamed up with celebrities, including actress Megan Fox, actress and singer Lucy Hale and NBA player Chris Paul to further promote the campaign online. Meaningful celebrity partnerships like this can be a more impactful way for brands to reach consumers and better connect their overall message of empowerment and responsibility, whereas consumers may find greater meaning in the personal stories shared by celebrities and connecting to a cause.

“CoverGirl tapped the influence of its celebrity spokeswomen for its ‘Girls Can’ campaign, launched during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games. The campaign kicked off with a video of celebrities Ellen DeGeneres and Pink sharing some of the things they were once told they couldn’t do,” comments Gabi.

3. Storytelling through social media: “eBay uses its Facebook and Twitter pages to tell a story around the products sold on its site, which can be especially helpful for some of the more unique items. eBay’s ‘Collections’ feature allows users to handpick items from the site and display them in groups or themes to create visual stories (similar to Pinterest boards). Members can also follow other users, including expert curators and celebrity curators, to gain inspiration for their own collections. Online retailers are starting to think more creatively about the consumer shopping experience, and nowhere is this more evident than in the marketing efforts on the social media pages of these retailers where consumers are becoming more actively engaged through different content types,” says Gabi.