Most people are familiar with UGC and how it is used by marketing teams to enhance their brand authenticity and make it more relatable.
Marketers can be left scratching their heads when it comes down to creating a UGC strategy.
This post will feature a variety of user-generated content examples from large brands. We also explain why each strategy is so effective. You can get some ideas from the many ways that brands use UGC in their marketing to help you make UGC a part of your marketing strategy.
Why user-generated content?
Let’s first discuss why brands are increasingly turning to user-generated content.
Our most recent data report shows that 83 percent of consumers believe that retailers should provide more authentic shopping experiences. Similarly, 59 percent of consumers claim that user-generated content is the best.
Furthermore, 79% of respondents say UGC has a significant impact on their purchasing decisions. Only 9% say that influencer content has an effect on purchasing decisions.
Simply put, consumers are aware of what experiences and content they desire from brands. According to the same survey, 72 percent of respondents said that they want real customer videos and photos on eCommerce websites. 80 percent also stated that they would buy more products from online stores if they had videos and photos from actual customers.
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UGC is authentic and has been proven to motivate consumers to take action. It is also very cost-effective. UGC is plentiful and can be generated by anyone. All brands need to do is ask permissions.
User-generated content is the content that resonates most with real people’s lifestyles and allows brands to offer more relevant and personalized shopping experiences at scale.
8 examples of brand-generated content
These are examples of user-generated content from brands that use it to boost their marketing efforts. Discover how brands are using UGC to do more than one thing: from creating inspiration and engagement to gathering a community that drives purchases.
Nike is among the first major brands to harness the power and influence of its followers’ and customers’ content.
This hashtag is well-known to all. The hashtag #JustDoIt has been used in over 15 million Instagram posts. There are even more on other social media platforms. Nike’s #JustDoIt campaign generates the most user-generated content ever.
Nike launched its first UGC campaign in 2017. The tool allowed customers to upload their favourite Instagram photos. Nike then used the color scheme of those uploaded photos to create custom images for their Air Max shoes. The #airmax hashtag was used to encourage users to share their custom image online. This tool generated over 100,000 images of shoes in just one week.
The campaign allowed people to make their own Nike products and encouraged followers to become creators. All this while increasing awareness and engagement about the Nike brand.
Better for It Campaign
Nike created one of the most powerful and targeted campaigns it has ever done. This time, it used the power of its audience to create a social movement for its women’s division. Nike created the hashtag #betterforit and encouraged women to share their fitness, health, and workout goals. The hashtag has been shared hundreds of thousands of times to this day.
Nike wanted to continue its values of encouraging athleticism through this UGC campaign. Nike’s women division saw a 20% increase in just two months.
Asos, an eCommerce website, powers its Instagram feed using real customers using the hashtag #AsSeenOnMe.
Many people find Asos’ Instagram feeds refreshing because they contain content from real customers wearing Asos clothing and accessories, along with brand content. Asos can get free advertising and present a more authentic brand image that is more relatable to its customers.
ASOS simplifies the user experience by including searchable product codes in the captions. This allows browsers to quickly become active shoppers and buyers.
SheIn, a fashion brand with a Youtube channel and TikTok channels, is well-known for its “clothing bags”–a user-generated strategy that allows customers to show off their SheIn purchases. This strategy has allowed SheIn to build a worldwide community around its wide product range.
SheIn clothing hauls are one reason SheIn is so successful in marketing. Customers get to try on the clothes and then review them.
SheIn promotes #SHEINgals as a hashtag to encourage customers to share SheIn outfits on social media in order to be featured on its social media accounts. SheIn, like Asos makes it easy to track which product is featured in a post via searchable product numbers included in every caption.
Starbucks’ user-generated content marketing campaigns have been very popular over the years. The brand’s annual #RedCup contest encourages customers to upload photos on social media showing them with their red Starbucks cups. This campaign allows people to be creative.
Starbucks added to this campaign in 2015 by setting up a Christmas tree made of red Starbucks cups at King’s Cross Station, London. This encouraged many people to take photos in front of the red gingerbread-scented cup display.
Starbucks then displayed the engaging images on DooH billboards at London’s stations, encouraging commuters to buy a cup while they walked by.
This is a great example of a UGC campaign that one brand made multi-sensory–crossing the boundary between the real and virtual worlds to give audiences multiple ways to participate.
Canon Australia placed UGC at its core to connect its community of professional and novice photographers.
Because of the importance peer-to-peer product recommendations have on customers, Canon wanted to concentrate its marketing efforts on post-purchase experiences.
Jensen Baptista is Senior Manager at Canon Australia. He stated, “What caused the rise in user-generated content within Canon Australia? It was our decision not to focus on our products and instead, start focusing upon the people who use them.”
Canon created an inspiration page to highlight the work of its community and tell the many stories behind its photographs and film. Their website has a form that allows content creators to upload submissions.
Canon also runs UGC photo challenges in order to keep its audience engaged. Take the LEAP Challenge is a notable example. It created 30 briefs, one for each day. This encouraged thousands to share their creativity and content.
The best thing about this challenge was the fact that you didn’t need a Canon camera to participate. Because most people have smartphones, the goal was to get people thinking creatively and spark their interest in photography.
Canon Australia’s Instagram feed is primarily fed by user-generated material. Their social media strategy, as of writing, is largely UGC-driven.
Lush Cosmetics is a socially and environmentally conscious company with a large fan base that shares content regularly.
The company’s unique packaging and natural bath bombs transform bathtubs into multi-colored rainbows is the perfect thing to share on social media.
Lush decided to make the most of its Instagram-ready products and let their customers (called ‘Lushies’) speak for them. Lush completely replaced traditional advertising with user-generated visuals that were highly effective. They even featured shoppable UGC images in their product detail pages.
Lush is now more consumer-driven and can build community and engagement around its products. Lush can also use UGC to deliver customized content experiences at scale. They rely on their audience to create a variety of content that will be relevant to the right customers at the right moment.
Through its ambassador program, #FirstLookLushies, Lush strives to create strong customer relationships. They acknowledge and encourage people who already create content for Lush to keep engaging.
Sabine Schwirtz was a former community manager at LUSH Cosmetics North America. She said that “the voice of a brand is not always consistent with the voice of its customers.” We are closer to a time when a brand’s identity will be the same as that of their customers.
Trek Bicycle invited people to take part in the competition by featuring UGC of its community on its website and social media channels, including Instagram Stories.
Haley Gustafson, Social Media Manager at Trek Bicycle, said, “We realized that people are more likely to implement a behavior if they see other people–especially people like themselves–participating and taking that action.”
COVID-19 was a huge success, bringing more people outside to enjoy the outdoors and increasing awareness about sustainability and the many benefits of bicycling.
Trek Bikes received rights to more than 2,000 pieces of UGC via Instagram after just seven weeks of #GoByBike’s campaign.
Capella Hotels & Resorts
Capella Hotels and Resorts used UGC in a variety of marketing touchpoints. It paid off. UGC allowed them to create more authentic online experiences that would increase brand awareness and bookings. The result was a 40% increase in online revenues after they integrated user-generated visuals to their website, email and social media channels.
Capella’s Corporate Director for eCommerce & Digital Marketing Terence Wu said that luxury hotels are becoming less about extravagant decorations and fancy amenities, and more about creating moments for families and friends to come together.
They encouraged guests using the #CapellaCandids hashtag via social media. This was then used to create an inspirational page on the website.
To give visitors a more authentic experience, they also included UGC from hotel stays in their respective email newsletters.
Capella used UGC for its family packages. This helped to increase the appeal of those marketing campaigns and resulted in a 4.5x increase on revenue.
Capella was able, using the Stackla platform to collect over 30,000 pieces UGC and add more than 4,000 visuals into their asset library, giving them plenty of content for multiple omnichannel marketing campaigns.
Use User-Generated Content for your Marketing
These are just a few examples of the best user-generated content ideas that will inspire you in your marketing.
For higher engagement, flood your social media channels and pages with fan and customer content
Social media is a great way to start with UGC. Start by combining customer visuals with other content to see how your audience reacts. Are there more UGC posts getting likes? Are there more people sharing or commenting on these visuals? What about engagement levels on different social media platforms (Snapchat Instagram, Facebook, Twitter? etc.)? )?
UGC can be used to help you determine how effective your marketing materials are.
Create UGC using a contest
Competitions and contests can be a great way to get a lot UGC for your brand, and engage people. The excitement and hype that contests create can help increase brand awareness. Many brands have had success with this win-win-win strategy.
A UGC contest will typically include a unique hashtag that people can use, and that your brand can use for gathering and choosing the best visuals.
You can also ask people to participate by asking them to @mention/tag your brand in their photographs, or simply by adding a direct-upload form to your website. Make sure you have a plan in place for rewarding the winners. You could offer a prize, a trip for free or the opportunity to feature the winning image on your marketing channels.
You want to be able to use all photos submitted by your audience during your contest? Incorporate content permissions in the contest terms and conditions. This grants you the right to all content shared by fans.
Your website pages will be more authentic and inspiring if you add authenticity
You can give your web pages more personality and authenticity by displaying real customer UGC. Many brands place a UGC widget at the top of their pages. Stackla customer iCanvas is an art eCommerce company that invites customers to upload photos of their products or share them via social media with the #iCanvas hashtag. This will be displayed on the home page.
A gallery of customer UGC on your website has been shown to improve bounce rate, time on page and site engagement. People click on the image to learn more or the ‘load more’ button to see more.
People can click-to-buy using shoppable UGC
You can make your UGC more effective by enabling click-to-buy on images of real customers that feature a product.
According to our data report, 71% of respondents said that they would buy more from an online store if the item could be purchased directly from an inspiring image.
UGC is a popular and authentic content choice among consumers. Taking those visuals to the next level, making them shoppable, could boost your brand’s sales.
creating an inspiring UGC shoppable allows consumers to get what they want, by making shopping easier. It makes the purchase process easier and can also increase brand awareness.
Add social proof to your product pages
Consumers expect to see actual customer UGC on product detail pages. You can’t touch or feel items online so it is important to try them out before you buy. Also, it helps to see photos and read reviews from people who have bought the product. Social proof can be used alongside professional images of products to instill trust. This can increase conversions as well as decrease return rates.
To increase the social proof on product pages, you can identify UGC for specific products that have been shared online. You can invite others to upload photos of the product purchased after they’ve completed the transaction.
Create a community for creators
Collect a group of ambassadors for your brand. This can be done by looking for people who have published content about your products and inviting them to join your brand community.
Our latest data report shows that 65 percent of Gen Z would consider joining a customer advocacy group in order to help create content for companies they purchase from. Invited to participate in the creation of your brand can help people develop closer relationships with it. This not only encourages loyalty from your most passionate customers but also allows for enthusiasm to spread to more people.
You can also give your brand advocates prompts to create additional UGC to fill your content needs.
These user-generated content examples by big brands should be a source of inspiration for your marketing strategy. UGC can be a great way for brands to build trust, engage followers, grow their audiences, and increase the likelihood of people making purchases. Don’t be afraid of taking risks and trying new things!
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