Want people to trust you and spread the buzz around your product? One of the best, most interactive tactics that you can use to achieve these goals is to leverage user-generated content (UGC). According to a study by TurnTo Networks, 90% of consumers say that user-generated content influences their buying decision more than any other form of advertising. That’s because brands don’t pay for UGC (at least, they don’t in most cases). It’s unbiased and created by consumers who are satisfied with the offering of a business or brand. As a result, UGC is perceived as more authentic and honest. But what exactly is user-generated content, and why do you need it? Here we explore 15 examples of big brands using UGC and how to adapt them for your own campaign. ContentsWhat is User-Generated Content (UGC)?Why You Need User-Generated ContentThe Benefits of User-Generated Content1. Celebrate passionate customers2. Boost Social Media Reach and Growth3. Gain Audience Insights15 Examples of Big Brands Using UGC and How to Adapt Them for Your Campaign1. Starbucks2. Travelex3. Delaware North4. BMW5. Adobe6. Wayfair7. TVNZ8. Aerie9. Louboutin10. Calvin Klein11. Loews Hotels12. Outdoor Voices13. Tourism Australia14. Marc Jacobs15. MadewellOver to You What is User-Generated Content (UGC)? Short for user-generated content, UGC is a term used to describe any type of content created by users of a brand and made accessible via social media. It can refer to videos, pictures, blog posts, testimonials, and everything in between, and is the act of consumers promoting a brand rather than the brand itself. Instagram for Business 101 Grab our ebook Instagram for Business to take your Instagram game up a notch! Why You Need User-Generated Content When it comes to making a buying decision, what would you trust more: a brand’s advert or genuine advice from a buyer who uses the product? We are more likely to trust the opinions of our friends, colleagues, or family members who have used the products. That’s the principle behind user-generated content. It’s all about letting your customers do the advertising for you. Besides providing social proof of authenticity, here are a few other benefits you get from UGC: The Benefits of User-Generated Content 1. Celebrate passionate customers Customers love to see their content shared by the brand that they themselves are celebrating – it’s a great positive feedback loop. It doesn’t matter whether the customer has 10 followers or 10,000 (or 10 million!) – it gives them the positive vibes of you showing off their work, and allows you to show authentic real-life content for your brand. 2. Boost Social Media Reach and Growth UGC campaigns and social media go hand in hand. Your happy customers may end up tagging their friends in your UGC which leads to more outreach and growth in your social following. 3. Gain Audience Insights Beyond its use as a source of content, user-generated content is a gold mine of data. Analyzing the data from customer opinions, and feedback can give you valuable insights into what to improve or drop in your products and services. G’day, nice to meet you! Discover Sked Social: the leading Instagram (and more!) scheduling tool for over 10,000 visual-first agencies and brands. Start your free trial 15 Examples of Big Brands Using UGC and How to Adapt Them for Your Campaign Below find a list of 15 big brands that are reaping the benefits of UGC – and what you can learn from them: 1. Starbucks Starbucks’s famous #RedCupContest is a perfect example of how to get customers to promote your brand. Every December, Starbucks launches the #RedCupContest, asking fans to submit cool photos of their coffees for the chance to win a Starbucks gift card—and their fans always participate. To date, this campaign has garnered over 30,000 photos of red cups and still counting. Source The #RedCupContest incentivizes Starbucks customers to participate online for a reward. This not only leads to brand exposure but also an increase in sales. That’s because, to participate, users have to buy a red cup first to take a picture. UGC Takeaway: Run a photo contest to promote and make customers spread the buzz around your products. Offer a reward in return for participation, then use branded hashtags to get your fans excited about posting on social media. 2. Travelex To capture masses of authentic user-generated content, Travelex made each day a campaign day by launching a 12-month photo contest campaign. They used unique hashtags each month, such as #Travelxwow to encourage their fans to participate more than once with the goal to amass valuable audience data and drive multi-channel engagement. Source Each month, Travelex would introduce a new theme to their followers and encourage them to capture their best shots related to the theme and share on Instagram, Twitter, or directly through their own website. The result? Travelex increased social engagement and obtained valuable user data that could be used for future promotions. UGC Takeaway: Use contests to encourage your fans to share their best moments across multiple social media platforms. Provide more avenues for your fans to share their content by proving a direct link to your website where they can share the content and provide other useful information, such as contact details. New Ebook: Instagram Strategy Secrets of Top Brands Grab the secrets of brands like Skechers, Random House and Facebook detailed by the strategists who manage them. 3. Delaware North In a bid to integrate social depth among its websites and encourage their fans to book more outdoor adventures, Delaware North has published a ton of UGC-powered social hubs, showing awe-inspiring content from outdoor enthusiasts on their website. This global food and hospitality company is using its consumers as brand advocates, capitalizing on the authentic user-generated content they receive from their customers. Source They achieve this by encouraging their fans to share their best vacation photos on Twitter and Instagram, using a dedicated hashtag for each of their websites, for example, #TenayaLodge, #ElQuestro, and #LizardIsland. As a result, the campaign attracted more than half a million cumulative social wall views across their websites within a couple of months. UGC Takeaway: Integrate a UGC-powered social hub (with social sharing actions) on your website to display a collection of all your social media feeds obtained from multiple channels onto one screen: your website. 4. BMW Leading automobile company, BMW uses the hashtag #BMWRepost to share social media posts of proud BMW owners and their rides. Source It’s a win-win for both parties; The car owner gets an opportunity to show off their rides while BMW gets free advertising and an opportunity to show off their proud and loyal base of customers. UGC Takeaway: Give your customers an avenue where they can brag about your products. You don’t need to sell luxurious products, or target the upper-echelon consumers; there are many people who love shopping and sharing their experiences on social media. 5. Adobe Many of the Adobe products come with a steep learning curve, and it can be difficult for users to envision what they can do with the program without seeing it in action. Adobe uses the hashtag #Adobe_Perspective to show off its software capabilities while connecting with its community of users. This UGC campaign gives Adobe users an opportunity to showcase their talents while Adobe gets free promotional materials and increased brand recognition. Source UGC Takeaway: Encourage customers and users to share their experiences after successfully using your products. The shared images and posts will give your potential customers ideas of what they can expect from using your products. 6. Wayfair Online furniture store Wayfair has a fun user-generated content campaign that lets their customers express their experiences with Wayfair products. Using the hashtag #WayfairAtHome, consumers can take and post photos of their home setups featuring Wayfair products. Source Wayfair reposts the UGC on its Instagram page and provides a link to their store so users can shop for similar products online. This UGC campaign has gained a lot of social media traction, with over 25,000 post shares and still counting. UGC Takeaway: Encourage your customers to shop and share their experiences online. Then create a branded hashtag that will be used to differentiate your campaign and allow your content to be easily searchable online. G’day, nice to meet you! Discover Sked Social: the leading Instagram (and more!) scheduling tool for over 10,000 visual-first agencies and brands. Start your free trial 7. TVNZ TVNZ teamed up with World Vision to drive awareness around the 40 Hour Famine challenge and show support for the children of South Sudan who were affected by drought. Using the hashtag #40hfnz, those wanting to get involved could share their photos through their social channels, with their hands stretched out to voice solidarity. Source To maximize campaign virality, TVNZ aired the campaign on broadcasts so supporters could tune in to TVNZ any time to see their user-generated content live on TV. UGC Takeaway: Leverage UGC to reach out to your audience, and provide an incentive to encourage people to participate. If you’re looking into getting the public to participate in charitable work, provide a platform where their contributions can be appreciated by others. 8. Aerie The women’s lifestyle retailer, Aerie has drawn a lot of user-generated content by using their campaign to empower customers. Aerie pledged to create awareness that edited photos can have a negative impact on women’s self-esteem. Source They launched an Instagram campaign with only one goal: to advise against retouching photos of models. They also encouraged their fans to use the hashtag #AerieReal to post unedited photos of themselves in a swimming suit. And for every post shared, Aerie donates $1 to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) UGC Takeaway: People who want to support causes they believe are beneficial to the community and the world at large—give them an opportunity to do so through UGC. 9. Louboutin Source The French footwear fashion designer, Louboutin has a fun UGC campaign that has greatly enhanced its brand image. They ask their customers to post photos of themselves wearing Louboutin shoes with the hashtag #somethingrouge. The company then selects the best photos and reposts them on their Instagram page. UGC Takeaway: Be selective in what you post on your Instagram page. The captivating appeal of the UGC on your account is what lures the customers in. 10. Calvin Klein Brooke Shields made the hashtag #MyCalvins popular when he whispered, “Nothing comes between me and my Calvin’s” in a 1980’s commercial. Later on, Calvin Klein revived that tagline and took it to Instagram. The company asked its fans to fill in the campaign line “I_____in #MyCalvins.” Thousands of their fans and followers took photos and posted their briefs, making the campaign go viral. In just a few months, over 500,000 photos were tagged on Instagram. Source UGC Takeaway: Run simple, yet fun contests about your products that will make your fans express their opinions about your brand. Then create a branded hashtag that your fans will use while posting. 11. Loews Hotels Instead of hiring paid commercial actors to portray happy hotel guests, Loews Hotels use authentic user-generated content. They encourage their guests to share photos of Loews properties with the hashtag #TravelForReal, then post on social media. Real travellers share photos of real Loews properties, and this enables visitors to have a better idea of what their vacation could look like. This results in social proof (without tricks) that nurtures an emotional connection. Source UGC Takeaway: Leverage UGC that will genuinely combine customer testimonials with brand inspirations. This will give customers no other option but to choose your brand. 12. Outdoor Voices The American clothing company, Outdoor Voices knows the power of UGC and has put it in action to interact more with their fans. Rather than focusing on promoting their products, the company asks their fans to capture photos of themselves #Doingthings they love, then reposts them on their Instagram page. This UGC campaign feels authentic since it focuses more on the individual, not the business. Source UGC Takeaway: Create a theme that will highlight your products in the day to day use, then encourage your fans to spread the buzz around it on social media. Showing your customers and your products in action will make others visualize themselves using your products. 13. Tourism Australia Tourism Australia knows that nothing piques the interest of travelers more than shared photos of beautiful scenery. With that in mind, they encouraged their fans to share their vacation photos with the hashtag #SeeAustralia, a campaign that attracted a lot of social shares. When Tourism Australia noticed the success of that campaign, they launched a series of UGC campaigns targeting different users, and in one campaign, they saw a 30% increase in site engagement. Source UGC Takeaway: If your business has different lines of products, launching multiple UGC campaigns can deliver better results in terms of social media shares and customer engagement. 14. Marc Jacobs In 2014, Marc Jacobs decided to try a different approach for casting models. Instead of seeking the assistance of a modelling agency, they decided to cast their models via an ad campaign on Instagram and Twitter. They encouraged users who wanted to be considered to submit photos with the hashtag #CastMeMarc. The results? Within 24hrs, 15,000 photos were submitted and over 70,000 by the end of the contest. Source UGC Takeaway: To get more customers to participate, use the avenues and channels they love most. A photo contest, for instance, can make for a great UGC campaign because everyone loves photos. 15. Madewell The clothing company Madewell is no alien to UGC. They encourage their customers to share user-generated content about their products for a reward, using the hashtag #everydaymadewell. This campaign has been very successful and over 400,000 photos have been tagged and still counting. Source UGC Takeaway: On its own, a photo contest is a fun way to get user-generated content. Adding a prize makes the deal sweeter, motivating all sorts of followers to take part in your campaign. Over to You Depending on the nature of your business or brand, some tactics may work better than others. You could have a shy audience that isn’t adept with video but is happy to snap photos all day long. Rather than capitalizing on one approach, we encourage you to experiment with different approaches to user-generated content. Now that you’re familiar with UGC and its various approaches, why not give it a try? Please do leave a comment and share your own experiences with user-generated-content below.