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6 brands building compelling campaigns with UGC

User Generated Content (UGC)


Most marketers agree that UGC is the way to consumers’ hearts these days. It’s widely regarded as the best strategy to build both trust and online love for your brand. 

User-generated content (commonly referred to as UGC) is defined as any type of content that unpaid contributors have created—from pictures to videos, product reviews or blog posts. This type of content allows the consumer to take control of the narrative and share their experiences rather than the brand talking about itself.

In the scheme of marketing trends, UGC isn’t the new kid on the block. User-generated content has been around as long as social networks and customer review sites have. As early as 2005, when social networks became mainstream, brands began recognizing UGC’s potential for gathering social proof and engaging new audiences. Not to mention building an online presence and customer-centered community for your brand. 

Quick stats on the power of UGC

Now that we know what UGC is and its impact on purchasing decisions, let’s explore which brands are doing it right. With practically everyone doing it, consumers are largely numbed by the more traditional campaigns rooted in UGC — so it can be tricky to understand which strategies still work and which ones people will scroll right past without a second thought.

Let’s break down some of the best-in-class UGC marketing campaigns that brands have executed, what set them apart and a few tidbits that might spark inspiration for your own brand to build off of.

Let’s take a look at some of the brands getting it right: 

    1. Apple 
    2. Airbnb
    3. Away 
    4. Glossier 
    5. Parachute
    6. Columbia

6 powerful examples of UGC campaigns that worked 

1. Apple

The infamous #ShotoniPhone campaign started out as a challenge for customers. They invited customers to share their best shots on their social media, reviewed submissions and featured a select few on billboards, in stores and online. 

Launched in 2014 with the hopes of depicting the power and quality of the cameras we carry around in our pockets. The simple premise of this campaign had staying power. So much so that it’s still running today almost nine years later. 

The hashtag generated over 26 million social posts to date. Apple got a ton of mileage out of this campaign, repurposing assets for everything from billboards to YouTube content to blog posts. 

2. Airbnb

Made Possible By Hosts campaign launched in 2021, the first global marketing campaign that Airbnb had run in over five years. With pandemic restrictions letting up, they pulled on our nostalgia for time spent with loved ones, traveling away from the homes we’d been sequestered in. This campaign instilled a sense of hope by allowing viewers to truly see themselves in the ads through the use of UGC. 

Across social platforms, the Made Possible by Hosts campaign attracted over 17M global views while also appearing on live television and other mediums. Campaign engagements topped 243K across platforms. 

3. Away

Away is a suitcase brand that’s taken the travel industry by storm. Away’s goal is to get more people traveling, and they frequently showcase their customers doing just that. Most of their Instagram posts have been contributed by fans of the brand — showing their adventures with their Away bags in tow. Their playful online presence, recognition of loyal customers and community-oriented content has largely contributed to their success and relevancy. 

4. Glossier

Glossier, a D2C makeup and skincare brand,  creates an open dialogue between its consumers and marketing team across social media channels. They’ve achieved a digital tribe to back their brand through various efforts, one of which is their highly responsive social team, who keeps tabs on tagged social posts. 

UGC makes up 33% of Glossier’s Instagram posts and 42% of their TikTok content. Glossier also features UGC content in their newsletter, where they encourage their subscribers to publish posts under various featured hashtags such as #boybrow. Not to mention their supremely Instagrammable stores and pop-ups, complete with selfie walls, to get the perfect shot.

5. Parachute

A D2C home goods brand, their marketing team has opted to focus on building community with their online customer base. By putting consumer-sourced content at the center of their strategy, they attracted new buyers and built loyalty and trust with their existing customers. Collecting UGC with the #MyParachutHome campaign saved them over 60% on ad costs.  

These customer photos, featured on social posts, printed cards and throughout their paid advertising, resulted in a 35% higher click-through rate

6. Columbia

Columbia, an active lifestyle gear brand, is all about getting people outside… even their influencers. Originally created to promote a new line of women’s clothing, Columbia engaged a community of customer #Outfluencers to be the face of their UGC-lead campaign. They continued to call on their global team of dedicated customers turned outfluencers to generate content for various campaigns, including the 10th anniversary of their Omni-Heat™ Reflective Technology. Their campaign made a splash and allowed them to build deeper relationships with their target audience across the globe.

The bottom line

When it’s done right and keeps authenticity as the primary focus, UGC (still) works. Beyond sales and social engagements, using UGC in marketing campaigns can help your brand create a trustworthy presence that will keep people coming back. 

A couple of the key benefits of using UGC in your marketing campaigns: 

  • Builds community with your customers
  • Low-cost, high-return advertising 
  • Boosts trust in your brand and products 

Of course, a vital part of a UGC strategy is connecting with creators and managing their contributions. Learn how you can start sourcing more authentic UGC with ExpertVoice

Source authentic UGC on ExpertVoice

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