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5 ways brands can use UGC to boost sales & broaden their customer base

Successfully pulling off a user generated content (UGC) campaign with the use of social media is a golden feather in the cap of any retail marketer. Why? UGC campaigns have proved to be 20% more influential on purchasing decisions than other types of media. More importantly, social media makes it very easy for smart retailers to execute affordable and effective UGC campaigns.

The best part? Not only will your fans’ social media posts (with them using your product of course) be visible to you, they will be visible to all of their friends and followers on social media too. Smart move, considering 84% of people trust opinions and recommendations from people they know over any other form of advertising.

Using UGC to showcase your products, whether it be as part of a specific campaign or hosted on your website, can significantly improve sales performance. One brand discovered customers were 6 times more likely to purchase a product if the page included pictures from social media. With that in mind, we’ve collected some of our favorite social media-based approaches to UGC from various retail brands for you to take inspiration from and start maximizing your social ROI.

1. Showcase customer creativity

A great story involves showing, not telling. The same rule applies to great marketing. About 6,000 videos a day are posted to YouTube with ‘GoPro’ in the title, and this ubiquity helped to triple GoPro’s year-on-year views on the platform.

GoPro uses this passion for their products to showcase customer creativity on their YouTube channel and this strategy has served them well for over a decade, even coining the term ‘GoProing’ as a noun. For example, they recently shared this incredible video of a 5-year-old skater Autumn, filmed by her mum.

How do they do it? Here are just a few of the ways GoPro capitalizes on customer creativity and content:

  • Asking customers to use the hashtag #GoPro to make sure their social team never miss a beat
  • Showcasing their favourite content across the GoPro channels, a great way to communicate the value of the product and a huge perk for their customers!
  • Forming partnerships with tourist attractions and providing gratis cameras to share with customers, to encourage more content being captured
  • Integrating the ability to share content into their product, making it simple for people to point, shoot and share on a social channel of their choice
  • Hosting competitions and events such as the GoPro Million Dollar Challenge and the GoPro Awards

2. Understand what gets people talking

Sometimes, you’ve got to light the spark. These days, the iPhone has a chokehold on the smartphone market, meaning other smartphone makers need to be savvy with their approach to marketing. In a clever marketing move that broadened their customer base and created a TikTok sensation, Samsung collaborated with K-pop group BLACKPINK to promote their Galaxy A series, using the hashtag #danceAwesome.

The wildly popular girl group created an advert to launch the #danceAwesome challenge, which featured a catchy jingle recorded by the band which simply said, “Awesome screen. Awesome camera. Long-lasting battery life.” Fans were then encouraged to join the challenge on TikTok, which had recently emerged as a major new social network.

@hollyh working with @samsung on my audition for blackpink 😂 #danceAwesome #galaxyA #ad ♬ Awesome Phone Song(BLACKPINK Ver.) - BLACKPINK

Fans joyfully jumped on board, sharing their own attempts at the dance or creating CapCut edits for a chance to snag a free Samsung phone. TikTok influencer Holly H’s entry had over 250,000 likes and helped amplify the challenge to her 15 million followers. This excitement from customers eventually led to Samsung creating a limited edition of their A80 smartphone, branded entirely BLACKPINK.

Audiense blog - Galaxy Blackpink Edition campaign

3. Play into your customer’s passions

User-generated content allows customers to showcase their own personality and can help develop a strong sense of brand loyalty. If you want to get them creating content that is truly authentic, you need to play into their passions. Halo Pet, who launched a multi-million-dollar campaign that aimed to celebrate the world’s best kids… your pet. Perfectly tapping into the millennial pet parent mindset – which you can read more about in our Spotlight piece on pet brands – this campaign used millennial and Gen Z content creators to show how they live the Halo Pet Mom lifestyle.

Beauty brands also do an incredible job of engaging their passionate and creative customers to showcase the product. Brands such as e.l.f. have been able to create viral campaigns through strategic influencer making, such as their #EyesLipsFace challenge.

e.l.f. hand-picked a small number of influencers to start seeding the campaign on TikTok. As awareness grew, so did user-generated content and excitement. The hashtag clocked up 7 billion views and over 5 million user-generated videos… and celebrities started to join in the fun. You can read more about it here.

4. Let your customers parade the product

Speaking of passion, letting customers parade the product is the perfect way to generate more user-generated content. Fashion retailers have this in the bag, with ASOS’ #AsSeenOnMe being one of the most effective and well-known campaigns. They tapped into Instagram’s #OOTD trend in 2014 by launching a section of their website which showcased photos of their customers wearing their clothes, simply by using the hashtag #AsSeenOnMe.

While that section of the website may now be defunct, they still encourage customers to use the hashtag on Instagram and it works. There are now almost 1.5 million posts using the hashtag for ASOS to tap into.

Audiense blog - hashtag #AsSeenOnMe

Calvin Klein took a similar approach with their #mycalvins campaign, a hashtag-led phenomenon for the brand that sees over 870,000 posts on Instagram. Customers are encouraged to share how they choose to wear their favourite underwear.

Audiense blog - #mycalvins campaign

5. Let customers (or major influencers) create your advert

Once upon a time, the quality of smartphone cameras was absolute garbage. But things have changed, and Apple were determined to show customers what the iPhone was truly made of. Since 2014, Apple have championed #ShotoniPhone, a campaign which encourages and incentivises their customers to showcase just how powerful an iPhone can really be.

And you know what? The results aren't too shabby. There have been over 28 million posts tagged #ShotoniPhone in the last decade and customers are always keen to have a chance to appear in Apple’s latest marketing campaign. This iconic UGC campaign ensures that Apple always has the freshest content showing off their latest features.

Another great example of letting customers, or in this scenario, major influencers, create your advert for you comes from Spot Insurance, who used the personalized video platform Cameo to create a start-studded campaign. The campaign featured 25 proud pet owners with Hollywood appeal including Erin Andrews, Brian Baumgartner, Gabby Douglas, Sonja Morgan, Lindsay Lohan, and more. They shared their own pet love stories and reflected on the impact pets have had on their lives.

These ideas can all be tweaked to fit a variety of different brands, helping to drive sales and awareness via your social channels. What are your favourite UGC campaigns?