User-generated content is the Holy Grail of social marketing – sparking viral buzz and a constant stream of free product promos.
And the research backs it up too:
- More than 92% of consumers trust earned media (like advice from family and friends) more than all other forms of advertising.
- 90% of US shoppers say UGC is the most influential part of their purchase decisions.
- Email click-through rates increase by 73% when UGC is integrated, and visitors to websites with UGC galleries spend 90% more time on the site.
But getting your user-generated content off the ground can be tricky.
So in this post we take a look at some killer UGC examples. And analyse how some of the biggest and best ecommerce brands are driving revenue through solid user-generated content, to help you do the same.
What is user-generated content?
Simply put, user-generated content (UGC) is any content produced by your customers and/or followers.
These are pictures or videos of people with your products. But reviews, tweets, blog posts, and anything else can be considered UGC as well.
Like this picture Wholefoods shared on Instagram taken by one of their customers:
It’s important to note that UGC can be encouraged with discounts, but you shouldn’t directly pay for it – in this case, classify it as paid advertising.
Encouraging your consumer base to post and share your product with you and their network is a great way to generate buzz around your store. This proves they’re proud to be wearing your product and are happy to share it with the world.
Why UGC matters
UGC may seem like just another marketing trend, but there’s a big difference between this and the next marketing fad.
- Is authentic marketing for your product.
- Builds trust between potential customers and your brand.
- Allows shoppers to see their peers using your products and picture how they would use it.
Word-of-mouth marketing is beyond effective, and UGC is simply a new adaption of it in the digital age. Your Instagram business account can also provide analytics behind your posts, and you’ll be able to analyse how well your user-generated content works with your audience.
How to get people posting
It’s easy just to hope that your product is great enough that your customers will automatically post pictures of it on their accounts. But this rarely happens.
You have to actually ask your fans to share it – consistently and systematically.
- A dedicated hashtag. Set up a hashtag on Instagram and/or Twitter for people to use. This means your brand will consolidate all of the photos under one group and you’ll be able to easily find it without your customers tagging you.
- Plant the seed early. Place snippets about your UGC hashtag on your post-purchase thank you page, and consider an Instagram gallery on your homepage too.
- Add to your social bio. Mention your hashtag in the bio of your social profiles. This has the dual effect of prompting people to browse and then also post themselves after purchasing.
- Use your packaging. Have a section on your packing slips/invoices pushing the idea of UGC content and your hashtag if the customer is happy with their order (and to get in touch with your support team if they’re not happy).
- Follow up with email. Design an email that goes out after purchase again pushing your hashtag and UGC campaign.
You can even consider offering a discount off next order for anyone completing your UGC request. Helping to both spread the word about your products and drive repeat purchases.
Side Note: Make sure you also have the right marketing automation tools in place to share this content across your social channels.
UGC Examples: 7 brands doing it right
There are tonnes of UGC examples out there – brands doing it right that you can use as a starting board for your campaign.
So here are seven of the best UGC examples we could find. Take a look through, figure out what you like, see what your competitors are doing, and get the ball rolling on using UGC.
1) Ipsy: Flaunting customer talents
With just a quick look at beauty subscription service Ipsy‘s Instagram feed, you’ll see that they often share UGC from make-up artists and enthusiasts in their network.
The picture below highlights makeup done by one of their consumers for a Halloween campaign:
The post caption is simple and to the point. Additionally, they tag the artist to give credit to the creator, and include three hashtags.
The final #IpsyFlauntIt hashtag is filled with UGC examples where consumers can see inspiration and connect with others in the Ipsy community.
Ipsy does a great job of integrating UGC naturally into their feed, alongside their normal posts.
By choosing high quality UGC pieces to use, it doesn’t seem out of place. After further investigation by the user, they’ll clearly see that this piece is by someone just like them. These pictures are inspiring for how consumers can use their product on their own.
2) Pottery Barn: Showing style ideas
Pottery Barn do well right off the bat by directly asking for user-generated content in their Instagram bio:
They ask users to:
- Tag posts with the @PotteryBarn username;
- use the hashtag #mypotterybarn; and
- offer up the chance to be featured on their Instagram feed.
This helps build a bank of UGC examples that a potential customer can scroll through and see how others have used a Pottery Barn piece in their home. Like this:
Pottery Barn even displays UGC on product pages. Providing a section showing how others have styled the product in question:
All this shows just how much Pottery Barn has taken user-generated content, and ran with it to provide an authentic buying experience for their shoppers.
3) Aerie: UGC with a misson
The #AerieREAL campaign is a UGC example that took the women’s fashion world by storm. Aerie focuses on body positivity and highlights their commitment by showcasing all women, and not just ones that fit the typical ‘model look’ on their website and social media.
The campaign was introduced to:
- Generate UGC from all consumers.
- Prove that Aerie is a brand for all women, not just ones that fit a specific mould.
So much so that Aerie even refer to #AerieREAL as a mission (rather than just a campaign) in their Instagram bio:
Aerie has even taken it upon themselves to help create UGC by going out and creating videos with some of their biggest fans.
You can tell just how much the brand is loved by scrolling the comments on this one:
The campaign took Instagram by storm and now the company has expanded it to an entire content hub on their site supporting the mission.
They have #AerieREAL Role Models who are celebrities and influencers that truly embrace the campaign:
Not all UGC examples need to reach this far to be successful. But if you have an opportunity to lead a movement or humanitarian campaign, then it can be a huge opportunity to expand your brand image and consistently connect with your customer base.
4) Allbirds: Building a community
Shoe retailer Allbirds is another of our great UGC examples with their #WeAreAllbirds campaign.
The hashtag features across their website and prominently on its Instagram bio. Helping their fans and customers to feel part of the ‘Allbirds club’ by posting in it.
The post below highlights user-generated content for Father’s Day:
Here, Allbirds show how fathers around the world are wearing their shoes while parenting. These posts help humanise the Allbirds brand and promote their shoes in a natural way.
Allbirds has a large online presence, but very limited store locations. A potential problem when you’re selling shoes – something people normally want ‘try on for size’.
By having a strong presence on social with UGC, they’re able to provide social proof for those that aren’t able to go see the product in person. Building community and trust like this is crucial to get consumers to purchase their product without physically trying it before.
5) GoPro: Sharing stunning images
GoPro’s Instagram feed is packed full of stunning UGC examples collected from across the globe.
GoPro sell durable cameras for those liking adventure and the outdoors – so a natural fit for high quality user-generated content. In fact, their simple #GoPro hashtag has over 43 million posts in it to date:
GoPro will then even feature the best ones on their own feed:
View this post on Instagram
Single track through a #WonderOfTheWorld with #GoProFamily member @kk_zhangjingkun + #HyperSmooth 2.0 from #GoProHERO8 Black. ???? • Go big + save big with the #GoProHER8 Black bundle. Includes the all-new #GoProHERO8 Black, a Shorty mount, Head Strap, spare battery + a 32GB SD card. Tap the link in bio to see more. • • • #GoProMTB #GoPro #SinglesDay #GreatWall #MTB
All this user-generated content highlights exactly why a GoPro can enhance the way you capture images and videos from your explorations. Helping convince potential customers to purchase and share their own creations.
6) Calvin Klein: Humanising a luxury brand
Perhaps the most famous UGC example of recent years was the #MyCalvins campaign by Calvin Klein.
The fashion retailer encouraged users to share pictures of themselves in Calvin Klein clothing. And drew in participants with all varieties of follower sizes – from your friends to large celebrities.
CK even created a landing page that highlights the campaign:
It includes popular products for both men and women, and gives links to directly purchase.
But the highlight is the heavy focus on user-generated content collected throughout the campaign. Encouraging users to share their posts under #MyCalvins for the chance to be shared across CK’s network:
CK’s Instagram bio is also well on point. Highlighting that their feed is #MyCalvins as experienced by humans in real life:
This campaign took social media by storm when in launched in 2014. User-generated content came flocking in, and Calvin Klein was able to reach a new customer base that might not have been connected with the brand before.
The pertinent aspect is the IRL (in real life) focus.
This helped Calvin Klein to maintain the luxury, high-end feel for the brand. But also resonate with real people at the same time.
7) Lush: Highlighting specific products
UK-born cosmetics retailer, Lush, does a great job of making use out of UGC on their social feeds. Although they don’t encourage users to use a hashtag to collect posts, they still post plenty of customer created content.
One thing Lush do particularly well is using UGC to highlight individual products:
The image is just one taken by a regular Lush fan, who they tag in the description for credit. They then talk about and push the product in question.
Although this UGC example is simple and doesn’t seem like they’re actively seeking out customer content, it’s successful nonetheless. Lush are able to highlight their customers’ work along with promoting products that may be seasonal for them.
UGC examples final thoughts
Getting started with UGC is easier than you think. And can be successful regardless of your social following.
But don’t throw all your Instagram habits out the window. Remember to post at the right time, prioritise high quality content, and engage with your followers.
Then just use the UGC examples and ideas in this post to inspire your strategy!