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.
We'll also analyze how some of the biggest and best 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. Most commonly, these are pictures or videos of people with your products.
But reviews, tweets, blog posts, and anything else can be considered UGC as well.
It’s important to note that UGC can be encouraged with discounts, but you shouldn't directly pay for it - otherwise it would 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.
Are you leveraging social for sales? Check out Social Commerce: The Latest Strategies to Master Selling on Social Media!
Why UGC matters
User-generated content may seem like just another marketing trend, but there’s a big difference between this and the next marketing fad. User-generated content:
- 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 analyze how well your user-generated content works with your audience.
How to get people posting UGC
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. This means:
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) Calvin Klein: Humanizing a luxury brand
Perhaps the most famous UGC example over the past decade is the #MyCalvins campaign by Calvin Klein.
The fashion retailer encourages users to share pictures of themselves in Calvin Klein clothing, and has drawn-in participants with all varieties of follower sizes - from your friends to large celebrities.
CK even created a landing page that highlights the campaign, and they actively encourage users to share their posts under #MyCalvins for the chance to be shared across CK's network. CK's TikTok bio is also well on point, with a very simple #mycalvins.
The #MyCalvins campaign took social media by storm when it first launched in 2014, and user-generated content came flocking in, allowing Calvin Klein 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.
Almost a decade later the campaign is still going strong, with frequent TikTok campaigns with the likes of Kendall Jenner and A$AP Rocky to help encourage more user-generated content. As of March 2023, the #mycalvins hashtag has more than 281.9 million views on TikTok!
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.
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. And Aerie has even taken it upon themselves to help create UGC by going out and creating videos with some of their biggest fans.
The campaign took Instagram by storm and now the company has expanded it to an entire content hub on their site supporting the mission.
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.
These posts help humanize 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) Tourism Australia: Sharing their country with the world
Tourism Australia, Australia's tourism board, does a great job of making use out of UGC on their social feeds. They encourage users to share content from their travels to Australia with the hashtag #SeeAustralia - and, frankly, it's pure genius to have a CTA within a hashtag.
Their #SeeAustralia hashtag has over 141 million views on TikTok and is attached to over 6 million pieces of UGC on Instagram.
Not only do they share their favourite posts and tag the original creator in those posts, exposing them to their 5.6 million Instagram followers, but they also highlight the most recent posts on their website, too.
And the results? A 77% increase in leads for the brand.
6) 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.
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.
7) 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.
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.
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 TikTok and Instagram habits out the window.
Remember to post at the right time, prioritize high quality content, and engage with your followers. Then just use the UGC examples and ideas in this post to inspire your strategy!