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User-generated content can provide a simple, authentic, and affordable means of producing marketing material. What users post on social media is often entertaining, informative, and timely. Brands can repurpose user-generated content (UGC), too, using it as additional marketing collateral. 

Drawing on real campaigns, this list of user-generated content ideas for brands gives you the inspiration to succeed:

Ask users to show your product in use

Although iPhone users were originally disappointed by their cameras’ ability to take photos in low light, Apple’s “Shot on iPhone” helped turn things around. The company launched its “Shot on iPhone” campaign, which highlighted some of the best photos of users.

In January 2022, Apple continued its worldwide campaign, this time as the iPhone Macro Challenge. Consumers with the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max were asked to share their best up-close photos and the winners were shared on Apple’s Instagram account and on billboards.

Run a campaign that encourages customers to show off your product. 

Host a contest for customer-created designs

In a brilliant marketing move, Starbucks released a limited number of plain red holiday cups to encourage customers to create their own unique designs. Creatives were asked to snap a photo of their unique cup and share it on Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag “#RedCupArt.” 

Out of 1,200 submissions from 13 countries, the company chose 13 customer designs from six countries, showcasing them on holiday cups in over 25,000 Starbucks stores in 75 countries.

Your company could ask customers to help design a new product, company logo, or branded banner art for social. 

Make everyday customers your models

When inclusive swim and lingeries brand Aerie pledged to stop retouching photos, it encouraged customers to do the same when posting images of themselves in the brand. The company went so far as to donate $1 to the National Eating Disorders Association for every user-generated Instagram photo with the hashtag “#AerieReal”. 

The combined approach of charity, body positivity, and untouched photos of “real-life” models helped the campaign grow its engagement. 

Clothing, makeup, and skin-care brands could do something similar.

Embed images on your homepage

Vivadogs, a monthly subscription service for dog-related products, knows all too well that their customers love to share photos of their furry friends. 

The company encourages users to share images of their canine companions with their favorite Vivadogs toys and products, along with the hashtag “#vivadogs” on Facebook or Instagram. The brand chooses its favorite photos and displays them on a slider grid on its homepage and other social media to showcase happy customers and encourage site visitors to subscribe to its service. 

Add a social awareness angle  

Software giant Adobe has done several UGC campaigns that highlight its customers’ talents, as well as the company’s values. Campaign tie-ins with Black History Month, Women’s History Month, Hispanic Heritage Month, and Pride Month, among others, encouraged creators to post images showcasing Adobe’s capabilities with particular hashtags. 

Adobe’s Instagram feed is filled with a wide variety of user-created art. The hashtag #CreateWithPride, for instance, birthed a number of stunning visuals supporting the LGBTQ+ communities. 

Think of a way you can combine your company’s values with UGC for an interactive campaign. 

Encourage try-ons

When Warby-Parker, an online retailer of prescription glasses, contacts, and sunglasses, offered potential customers the chance to try on five pairs of glasses at home before buying the one they liked most, it turned it into a UGC campaign.

The company asked customers to post photos or videos of themselves in the glasses on Instagram for feedback, accompanied by the hashtag #WarbyHomeTryOn. Users got their followers to give their opinion on which pair looked best, and Warby-Parker got more than 20,000 Instagram posts to market its eyewear.

If your company sells apparel or accessories, you can do something similar. 

Incorporate reviews and feedback into social posts 

Marea, a menstrual wellness company, uses reviews, feedback, and social media comments from its users on the company’s Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and website. 

The brand also does a good job of incorporating user-generated posts related to periods, hormones, and mental health, and has managed to upcycled tweets into some pretty amusing marketing pieces. 

It’s an easy idea for any brand, just ask some of your loyal customers for feedback.

Offer a personalized product

Coca-Cola’s “Share a Coke” campaign encouraging consumers to tag themselves in a photo with a can of Coke with their name or a phrase was a global success. Spanning more than 80 countries, the user-generated content campaign was all over Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, and Twitter, among other platforms. 

The concept became so popular that Coca-Cola started offering personalized bottles delivered right to consumers’ doors. 

Think of ways to incorporate personalized products into your UGC. You might not be able to create products with names on it, but FireHouse Subs, for example, picks a name each day, like Jason, and gives away a free sub to anyone with that name. The company could spin it into a branded hashtag and ask for UGC. 

Companies looking for fresh user-generated content can incorporate one or more of these ideas to increase engagement and decrease their marketing spend. With little more than a designated hashtag and some campaign promotion, these tried-and-tested techniques can elevate your brand with both existing customers and new prospects. 

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