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7 ways to harness the power of user generated content in your marketing campaigns

User generated content (UGC) campaigns are one of the hottest trends in social media marketing right now, and for a very good reason. With modern social media users spending more than five hours per day consuming UGC, and UGC-based campaigns proven to be 20% more influential on purchasing decisions than any other type of media, marketing and social media professionals have a lot to gain by taking note.

In fact, 25% of search results for the world’s top 20 brands are links to UGC. In addition, UGC can complement existing campaigns, form the foundations of new ones, and drive high engagement from your community. But how can you incorporate UGC into your marketing and social media strategy?

Here are seven ingenious ideas to help you use UGC as the building block for your marketing and social media campaigns, with brand examples to give you inspiration on how to use UGC for highly effective marketing strategies.

1. It’s as simple as sharing.

This is one of the easiest way to take advantage of UGC. Fashion brands in particular often share photos of their customers wearing the clothes on social media. If you have a dedicated fan base posting photos or videos of themselves wearing, using, or enjoying your product online, take advantage of this. It’s been found that on video platform sites such as YouTube, UGC fan videos get 10 times more views than brand content. But you don’t have to be a fashion brand to make this work for your business. GoPro, specializing in tough professional video cameras and software, share customer content to show just how you can put these cameras to good use. From skydiving and mountain climbing, to filming the flight of huge birds and rescuing sea turtles. That kind of brand behavior breeds more UGC. Showcasing customer videos gives GoPro great content, and offers professional moviemakers and photographers a non-monetary incentive to keep UGC flowing without breaking the bank. It’s also likely to encourage more purchases, as more than 50% of the modern social media users seek out UGC before making big purchase decisions.

2. Need inspiration for your next marketing campaign? Look to your online customer reviews!

Did you know that online customer reviews are the second most trusted form of marketing, after earned media, with a global survey revealing 70% of people prefer it to other platforms? So why not welcome feedback with open arms? One company who’s figured out that customers’ product reviews can be more powerful than sexy sweeping ad shots of cars speeding down winding mountain paths or down dark roads illuminated with city lights, is car manufacturer Kia. They have a whole series of TV ads based on this concept. They believe their product speaks for itself and urge consumers to go online to read genuine reviews and recommendations. Smart move Kia!

3. Integrate fan photos and videos with your advertising campaigns.

UCG, when used correctly, can build a loyal customer fan base. Even more so if you share your customers photos and videos within your advertising campaigns. Dr. Marten’s leveraged their online community to drive results in their global #STANDFORSOMETHING campaign. They teased fans with a video charting the brand’s history and evolution over the years, before inviting them to get involved with their own stories and experiences with the brand. The purpose of the campaign was to celebrate diversity and drive engagement, which was incredibly successful and saw thousands of participants. Dr. Marten’s then featured their fans photos and videos in a commercial. Way to get down with the kids!

4. Incorporate UGC in your next competition or giveaway.

One of the quickest ways to take advantage of UGC is to ask your fans and customers to submit content as part of a competition or giveaway. Jewellery brand Pandora’s #MyRingsMyStyle campaign joined forces with radio personality Jameela Jamil to promote their range of new rings. They encouraged their Twitter followers to Tweet photos of their own ring stacks- Pandora or otherwise - for the chance to win £500 worth of shiny new ones! The campaign left Pandora with plenty of beautiful Instagram-filtered pics to share on their own feed - and anywhere else. Just make sure it’s clear in your Ts&Cs that you may repost submissions elsewhere! Competition based UGC also gives your brand wider exposure, particularly if the winner is decided through votes, as the entrant will share the content far and wide. If you need more contest guidance, there’s a blog for that.


Starbucks took it to the next level by inviting people to decorate their iconic white coffee cup. This competition had 4,000 entries in just three weeks, with the winner’s design being brought to life as a limited edition reusable Starbucks cup. The Pinterest page has nearly 100,000 followers.

5. Use social media to crowdsource ideas to feed into your upcoming marketing campaigns.

Before steaming ahead with your next marketing campaign, test ideas with your online community. Twitter chats and LinkedIn are great ways to crowdsource ideas and gives you fodder to help shape your marketing strategy into a well-oiled audience focused mechanism. Test ideas by making them a discussion topic in a Twitter chat; ask around on professional forums on LinkedIn to get opinions, thoughts and quotes; or take it to a Facebook post to drive discussion. Enthusiastic debate is the prime environment for inspirational ideas, and takes the experience out of the boardroom. Sparking discussion with your customers and peers on social media is a great way to see what really interests them. More importantly, if a topic or idea falls flat and nobody engages with you, perhaps it’s not the best starting point for a content marketing based campaign?

6. Take advantage your community’s creativity and feature UGC on your website.

Giving your online community an opportunity to be artistic is a simple way to get their creative juices flowing for UGC. This opportunity for fans to showcase their own creativity can help you sell your own product. Belkin did this by adding UGC to their product pages and giving fans the opportunity to have their customized Lego phone cases displayed to the world with the hashtag #LEGOxBelkin. Belkin let their customers do the selling for them by showing just how cool the product was, generating lots of organic and original image content for their website.


7. Retweet the warm and fuzzies.

Okay, perhaps not UGC in the purest sense. Although, a key part of a brand’s online presence is to make sure you’re sharing content throughout the day on social networks and keeping your online community engaged. Finding UGC can be as easy as searching your brand name or unique hashtag (if you have one) and sharing the positive Tweets from your online community. Taco Bell - a brand making excellent use of their social media - identified active social media users and sending them limited edition Taco Bell jewelry and a gift card to encourage positive Tweeting about the brand. It worked. Kudos Taco Bell, if you want to send a Taco ring our way, we wouldn’t mind…


87% of consumers agree that favorable reviews confirm their decision to purchase a product, so by simply taking the time to share positive feedback on social networks you’re driving sales. That Tweet you shared about how much a user LOVED your product could bring more customers your way.

Give some of these tactics a go and watch just how UGC can enhance your campaigns! Have you seen any other brands effectively incorporating UGC into their marketing? Let us know in the comments.