See how it works
When traditional advertising’s influence waned because people couldn’t stand to be spammed with unwanted commercials anymore, everyone wondered how brands could connect with their audiences again.
That’s how user-generated content emerged.
Your most loyal customers who will communicate with other people on your behalf produce UGC. This marketing strategy may seem risky because you’ll have to trust your content creators.
You can’t mess with what they post either; remember, they’re not your paid influencers.
However, you can use incentives and select the right content for your needs. We’ll discuss explicit versus implicit incentives starting from ten of the best user-generated content campaigns below.
Don’t forget to check out our UGC Marketing article, where we discuss specific steps on leveraging user-generated content. Still, we’ll emphasize many tips and UGC subtleties in this article too. That way, you’ll learn how to apply this marketing strategy to your brand.
Keep reading below.
User-generated content has helped Parachute to grow its click-through rate by 35%.
This brand of home décor products understands how important it is to create lust in their niche. Thus, their ads have always been sleek and beautiful. This strategy was excellent at attracting new customers—people who wanted to recreate the same glam in their homes.
But there was a problem.
Parachute couldn’t generate genuine customer loyalty, although it could inspire sufficient purchase decisions.
However, user-generated content can increase your customer base. As your advertising moves from product-centric to consumer-centric, your community grows.
That’s what happened with Parachute, too.
Their approach was to repurpose customer photos posted under the hashtag #MyParachuteHome. These pictures appear throughout Parachute’s ads and even in e-mail marketing.
These photos are like visual product reviews:
Remember: If you use this strategy, choose the most inspiring images that portray your brand in a good light. Use visual content on multiple advertising channels to create a cohesive campaign because cohesion is essential to making content memorable.
The relationships between people inside a tribe are more than the ties between happy customers:
As a result, your brand will grow because it’s what binds the “tribe” members.
Glossier is one of the DTC beauty brands that understood the importance of getting back to the roots. That’s why it uses real customers’ social media posts to create engagement.
Here’s why that worked for Glossier products:
Beauty brands used to feature glossy, perfect models that represented ideals of charm and elegance. Now, beauty brands face an immense challenge: creating the same sense of fairness while remaining authentic.
For example, Glossier employed the campaign hashtag #maskforce for their Mega Greens Galaxy Mask. Thousands of real people used this hashtag to post selfies of themselves.
These selfies help to contour that tribe we talked about because they’re genuine, unique and show vulnerability.
Moreover, each selfie is essential for this community.
Glossier stated that its purpose was to turn every single woman into an influencer. And that statement has a lot of power because it makes every customer feel they matter to the community.
The tribe exists through and thanks to them.
Remember: Recognition is one of the most effective social incentives you can use for your UGC campaign. Thus:
The social angle in Citizens of Humanity’s branded hashtag #WEAREALLHUMANITY was donating $10 to the USA for UNHCR, a UN refugee agency, for every post with this hashtag.
People responded well to this challenge because:
Remember: Social incentives are a powerful trigger for content creators.
Wayfair is another DTC brand retailing furniture online. Their fun user-generated campaign used the branded hashtag #WayfairAtHome on social media channels.
Here’s what Wayfair did:
The brand encouraged customers to post photos of their shopping sprees. The results range from funny to adorable and even educational.
In all cases, posting these pictures generated a lot of buzz on social media. Potential customers could get inspired by other people’s posts, while real customers got motivated to post for a chance to be part of the limelight.
Again, that’s an excellent use of implicit incentives to create user-generated content.
But Wayfair did another intelligent thing. It short-circuited the road from the buying decision to the actual purchase. Each customer testimonial had a link where people could buy those products.
Remember: The purpose of your marketing strategy isn’t just to create content for the sake of content; your goal is ultimately to sell more products. If you want that to happen, make your merchandise easy and quick to purchase.
Mint is a budgeting app that successfully used the #MyMintMoment hashtag on Instagram. Compared to the other branded hashtags analyzed above, this one used people’s innate sense of competition to mobilize posts: a contest with a grand prize of $1,000.
So, throughout January, Mint users could make Instagram posts that showed how Mint helped them improve their finances.
Here’s why this strategy was powerful:
Remember: #MyMintMoment is one of the best user-generated content campaigns because it focused on people’s successes and brought out the emotional—genuine—part of finance.
Bluehouse Salmon massively uses Instagram to promote its products. This brand retails organic salmon, so its selling proposition is to offer eco-friendly, sustainable products with an excellent taste.
But it’s virtually impossible for a food brand—DTC or not—to keep people passionate and to attract new customers with a product-centric vision.
Here’s how they do it.
People and restaurants alike post their recipes using fish from Bluehouse Salmon.
This strategy gives restaurants an advantage because they popularize their venue and associate themselves with the whole organic-fresh-green concept.
Individual customers who post about Bluehouse Salmon will position themselves socially as fighters for the environment, but they’ll also paint themselves as creative and detail-oriented.
Plus, everyone knows that gourmands feel a unique joie de vivre.
Bluehouse Salmon uses social, implicit incentives too because it allows people and businesses to contour their personalities through a brand.
Remember: user-generated content can help you turn your brand into an emblem or a symbol for a specific movement, thus leading to more UGC, which in turn enhances your reputation and so forth.
Deux Par Deux Kids retails children’s clothes, so their focus is on kids and what they’re wearing. The problem is that glammed-up kids’ photos can provoke an even more massive cringe effect than glammed-up adults’ photos.
Also, when you’re selling kids’ products, you have to be anchored into current parents’ mentalities and understand their needs.
Today’s parents want their kids to look well but also to feel comfortable. Besides, they need easy-to-clean clothes so their children can explore as much as they want.
Then, there’s the social media side of the story.
When you see other families being happy and boasting adorable children, you want to “borrow” that aura as well.
Or better yet, to buy it ASAP.
The reason is that family life is more challenging and less glamorous than we see on other people’s Instagram Stories.
And parents want to “purchase” those perfect families. That’s why Deux Par Deux asked its influencers to post pictures of their babies wearing the brand’s trademark clothes. This apparently simplistic strategy works because photos have a great advantage: they create desire.
Remember: When you associate your brand with an idea, the audience will probably deduce a causation effect between the two concepts.
Foot Cardigan has one of the best user-generated content campaigns on Facebook because it posts customer reviews constantly.
After all, what else could you do if you retail socks?
Of course, you could write several blog posts about the importance of quality socks and choosing the right socks for different activities or different foot conditions.
If you retail mass products like socks, you know how difficult it is to create engagement, buzz, and a fiercely loyal community around your brand.
Content campaigns based entirely on reviews attain several goals:
Remember: Link to the sales page if you want potential customers to get from purchase decisions to actual purchases.
National Geographic used a trial-and-tested UGC success method: contests. The #WanderlustContest was a hit because the stake was exciting for those passionate about travelling: a 7-day trip around Yosemite National Park for two adults.
The only requirement to enter the competition was posting a picture of themselves in their favorite outdoor spot.
Other reasons why this campaign worked, apart from the big prize were:
Remember: Encourage your audience to talk about themselves, but in relation to your brand. In fact, your brand should:
Uniqlo is a Japanese retailer that launched the #UTPlayYourWorld contest on TikTok.
Reaching out to Gen Z is difficult because Gen Z grew up with social media ads and brands invading every nook and cranny of their lives. Consequently, they will only associate themselves with truly authentic movements that feel inspiring.
That’s what Uniqlo did.
The brand asked people to send them their videos during the campaign, using the soundtrack, the hashtag, and the Uniqlo T-shirt.
Uniqlo rewards fit into the explicit incentives category: a chance for the winner to appear on Uniqlo’s retail stores and social media.
This campaign is savvy because:
- Auditory: the soundtrack
- Visual: looking at other people’s videos
- Motion: dancing in the videos
- Creativity: making those videos
- Memory: recalling the same brand marks while watching other videos
Uniqlo created a memorable campaign that also gave birth to a community. This community has the same language, symbols, and interests. Moreover, people from a brand’s family understand each other in a pretty specific manner.
Remember: When you want to mobilize people, you can:
The user-generated content examples shown above work because they use customers as brand ambassadors. These people feel empowered and part of a tribe. The direct consequence is they take part in that tribe’s life and call to action.
Make sure your hashtags and other brand marks are specific and memorable. Usually, brands go for visual effects, but you can follow Uniqlo’s footsteps and use key triggers across all sensory perceptions.
Also, use that created content wisely on every advertising channel you have.
When you post the content, make it easy for potential customers to purchase your products. One click is all they need to get to your landing page.