When it comes to growing your brand’s awareness and establishing a strong online presence, user-generated content (UGC) is one of the most powerful tools at your disposal. Not only does UGC allow you to harness the creativity and enthusiasm of your audience, but it also provides social proof that can help build authenticity and instill trust with potential customers. In fact, studies have shown that 90% say authenticity is important to them when considering which brands and products to support.
But with so many brands vying for attention online, how can you ensure that your user-generated content stands out from the crowd? In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at 10 creative user-generated content examples that have helped brands like yours boost their brand awareness and connect with their audience in meaningful ways. From hashtag campaigns to customer testimonials, these examples will provide you with plenty of inspiration to create your own successful UGC campaign. So, let’s dive in and explore the world of user-generated content!
What is User-Generated Content?
User-generated content is any form of content created by a brand’s audience, customers, or fans, as opposed to content created by the brand itself. This nifty marketing initiative can include a wide range of formats such as text, images, videos, reviews, and more. Common examples of user-generated content are social media posts, customer reviews, testimonials, and user-created videos or images that showcase a brand’s products or services.
The beauty of user-generated content lies in its authenticity and relatability. When real customers share their experiences with a brand, it provides social proof that can help build trust and credibility. Additionally, UGC often reflects the genuine voice and perspective of the customer, making it more relatable and engaging for other potential customers. By leveraging user-generated content, brands can foster a sense of community, increase brand loyalty, and ultimately drive sales and brand awareness.
10 Creative User-Generated Content Examples
The Barbie AI Selfie Generator
If you were anywhere on the internet in the Summer of 2023, you know all about the Barbie AI Selfie Generator. This was not just a digital trend; it was a cultural moment, reaching over 13 million users. The question is, why did it become such a quintessential example of user-generated content?
The answer lies in its brilliantly simple yet engaging concept: users could transform themselves into characters from the much-anticipated “Barbie” film by merely uploading their photos. The result was an instantly personalized promotional poster, shared widely across social media platforms. This interactivity is the cornerstone of user-generated content—it’s participatory, it’s personal, and it’s incredibly powerful.
Here’s why the Barbie AI Filter became a UGC powerhouse:
Personalization at Scale: The generator leveraged AI to create a unique, personalized experience for millions, allowing users to see a version of themselves within the world of Barbie. This personal touch is often missing in mass marketing campaigns but was abundantly present here, and it paid off.
Ease of Creation: The beauty of the generator was its simplicity. It took less than no time to create the image, but the impact was instantaneous. The ease with which users could generate content lowered the barrier to participation, encouraging even more people to engage.
Shareability: Designed for the digital age, the generator’s outputs were primed for sharing. When users uploaded their transformed images, they were not only endorsing the film but also contributing to its organic spread online, effectively amplifying the movie’s presence without a traditional ad spend.
Cultural Relevance: By tapping into the excitement around the Barbie movie, the filter became more than just a promotional tool; it was a means for users to interact with a piece of pop culture in real-time. This relevance drove engagement and made the filter a topic of conversation both online and offline.
Community and Identity: Lastly, by creating a shared experience that millions participated in, the filter fostered a sense of community. Users weren’t just sharing a picture; they were sharing an identity, becoming part of the Barbie universe and thus part of a larger narrative.
The Barbie AI Generator of 2023 stands as a testament to the power of user-generated content. It was not merely a campaign but a phenomenon that underlined the strength of creative innovation when coupled with the universal desire to be part of a story. As we continue to explore the potential of AI in marketing, the Barbie Generator serves as a pioneering benchmark for user engagement and viral potential.
Share a Coke
Coca-Cola’s “Share a Coke” campaign stands as an iconic illustration of user-generated content done right. What started in the sunny locales of Australia in 2011 swiftly became a global sensation, with over 80 countries partaking in the experience. At its core, the campaign transformed ordinary Coke bottles into personalized invitations for sharing, storytelling, and social media moments.
Here’s why “Share a Coke” is a masterclass in user-generated content:
Personalization: By replacing the iconic Coca-Cola script with common names and terms of endearment, the brand created a personal connection with consumers. People delighted in the hunt for a bottle bearing their own name or that of a friend or loved one, spurring them to create content that was personal and relatable.
Social Shareability: The campaign was inherently designed for social media. Consumers were eager to share their personalized Coke bottles online, tagging friends, and spreading the campaign organically. This was not just sharing a product but sharing a part of themselves—a form of self-expression.
Engagement: “Share a Coke” didn’t just encourage passive consumption; it invited active participation. Each personalized bottle was a potential story, a gift, or a shared moment waiting to be captured and posted online. This created a continuous loop of engagement, with consumers both creating and consuming content.
Emotional Connection: Coca-Cola tapped into the emotional resonance of sharing life’s moments. The campaign moved the brand from transactional to emotional, tapping into the power of human connections. User-generated content here was not about the product as much as the experiences and emotions that product sparked.
Adaptability and Evolution: The campaign’s adaptability kept it fresh and relevant. As names gave way to song lyrics, and then to popular holiday destinations, the content generated by users evolved too, keeping the conversation and engagement alive over several years.
The “Share a Coke” campaign resulted in a significant uptick in Coke’s market share and consumption, particularly among younger demographics. It proved that when a brand allows its customers to be a part of the narrative, the marketing message spreads far and wide, transcending traditional advertising.
User-generated content, when leveraged with a keen understanding of one’s audience, can be transformed from a simple interaction to a global conversation. The “Share a Coke” campaign did just that, making it a hallmark example of user-generated content’s potential to create a lasting impact.
Apple’s “Shot on iPhone”
Apple’s “Shot on iPhone” campaign is a masterclass in leveraging user-generated content to create a global movement. This campaign, initially born from observing the organic trend of iPhone users proudly sharing their photos, evolved into a curated showcase of user creativity and the technical prowess of the iPhone’s camera. It’s a testament to the idea that sometimes, the best person to showcase a product is the user themselves. Here’s why “Shot on iPhone” resonates as user-generated content
Showcasing Real Users’ Talent: By using actual photos taken by everyday iPhone users, Apple places authentic user experiences at the forefront. The images and videos are relatable, inspiring other users to explore their own creativity with their iPhones.
Highlighting Product Capability: The campaign smartly doubles as a product demonstration. It showcases the camera’s quality, not in a controlled environment with professional shots, but in the diverse, real-world scenarios in which customers actually use the product.
Emotional Connection: The photographs chosen often tell a story or capture a moment that resonates emotionally, creating a connection with viewers. By using this kind of user-generated content, Apple is able to make a personal connection with millions of viewers.
Social Proof: “Shot on iPhone” serves as social proof of what’s possible with an iPhone camera, encouraging current users to experiment and potential customers to consider what they could capture.
Global and Diverse Appeal: The campaign includes images from around the world, highlighting diverse cultures, landscapes, and perspectives. This inclusivity reinforces the brand’s global reach and its relevance to a wide array of consumers.
Celebrity Inclusion: The inclusion of content from celebrities adds a layer of aspiration, showing that even high-profile users prefer the iPhone for personal and professional use. For example, both Lady Gaga and Selena Gomez shot music videos completely on the iPhone during this campaign.
See a still from Selena Gomez’s “Shot on iPhone” video below:
Community Building: By featuring user content, Apple has fostered a sense of community among its users. It’s not just a company broadcasting its message; it’s a platform for users to broadcast theirs.
Authenticity in Advertising: There’s an inherent authenticity in using real customer photos that staged professional shots can’t match. This authenticity is compelling in today’s marketing landscape, where consumers crave genuine connections with brands.
Apple’s strategic choice to celebrate and showcase its users’ content has not only affirmed the high quality of its product but has also created a new dimension in advertising where brand and consumer co-create the narrative. The “Shot on iPhone” campaign transcends traditional marketing, empowering users to become brand ambassadors through the power of their own creativity.
McDonald’s Grimace Shake
i have suprise on 6/6 txt me 707-932-4826 pic.twitter.com/gboDwOcWQL— McDonald's (@McDonalds) June 5, 2023
I know what you’re thinking… isn’t the infamous “Grimace Shake” campaign an example of how user-created content can go wrong? On the surface, it might appear so, with consumers engaging in a grim viral trend of staging macabre scenes with the shake. However, this bizarre twist in user-generated content (UGC) underscores its raw power and the unexpected ways in which a brand can harness it for its own benefit.
The “Grimace Shake” campaign, which reintroduced McDonald’s nostalgic mascot in a vibrant new light, sparked a wave of user creativity that few could have predicted. The trend, while initially shocking, drew a tremendous amount of attention to McDonald’s new product. In an age where capturing the fleeting focus of consumers is harder than ever, the viral nature of these posts did just that.
McDonald’s savvy response to the unexpected turn of events is a textbook example of brand adaptability. Instead of pushing back or panicking over the seemingly negative portrayal, McDonald’s leaned into the cultural moment. They demonstrated a keen understanding of internet humor by engaging with the trend and thus, amplifying the conversation.
They posted this meme, which not only diffused any potential negativity but also positioned McDonald’s as a brand in tune with its audience and current trends:
meee pretending i don't see the grimace shake trendd pic.twitter.com/ZTcnLTESC8— McDonald's (@McDonalds) June 27, 2023
By doing so, McDonald’s turned what could have been a public relations challenge into a triumph of engagement. The brand’s playful acknowledgment of the trend kept the dialogue open and friendly, encouraging even more interaction. As a result, the Grimace Shake became more than just a product; it became a shared experience, a cultural moment that transcended traditional marketing boundaries.
This phenomenon serves as a prime example of how brands can leverage UGC—even when it takes an unexpected turn. The key lies in being responsive and adaptable, understanding the digital culture, and when appropriate, using humor to join the conversation rather than control it. McDonald’s response capitalized on the trend, pushing the product into the limelight and proving that with the right touch, even unconventional user-generated content can be spun into marketing gold.
Lego Ideas stands out as a paragon of user-generated content (UGC) done right, transforming customers from passive consumers into active creators in the product development process. The initiative taps into the creativity of Lego’s dedicated fan base, allowing individuals to submit their own designs for new Lego sets. This not only fosters a deep sense of community but also leads to the production of commercially successful and innovative products.
Cultivating a Creative Community
At its core, Lego Ideas is a platform that embodies the spirit of collaboration and co-creation. By inviting enthusiasts to submit their own designs, Lego leverages a diverse pool of ideas that might not emerge from within the confines of the company’s own design team. This openness to external ideas has resulted in a flourishing online community where more than 2.8 million members share, support, and debate over 135,000 proposed Lego set ideas.
What makes Lego Ideas a stellar example of UGC is its democratic approach to product development. Once a design is submitted, the wider Lego Ideas community votes on it. Ideas that garner enough support are then reviewed by Lego for potential production. This system ensures that the products that make it to market are not only innovative but also have proven appeal to Lego’s audience.
Lego Ideas doesn’t just ask for free input from its fans; it rewards them. Designers whose ideas turn into commercial products receive 1% of the product’s top-line revenue, an arrangement that provides a financial incentive and recognizes the value of community contributions. This incentive has turned hobbyists into stakeholders, creating a powerful motivator for participation and innovation.
From Rejection to Resurrection
Not all ideas can be turned into official Lego sets, but even rejected projects may find life through Lego’s acquisition of BrickLink. This platform offers a second chance for popular ideas through crowdfunding, enabling creators to bring their designs to market independently. This pivot from rejection to opportunity further strengthens the community’s resilience and commitment to the brand.
Long-Term Value Creation
Lego Ideas represents a sustainable model for user-generated content that benefits both the company and its customers. It extends the brand’s reach by involving customers directly in product innovation, which in turn can lead to unexpected hits and opens up new market opportunities. This collaborative process also serves as a constant feedback loop, enabling Lego to stay attuned to its customers’ desires and the latest trends.
Lego Ideas is a testament to the power of user-generated content when it is embraced as a core strategy rather than an ancillary experiment. By giving customers a voice in product development, offering tangible rewards, and fostering a strong community, Lego sets a high standard for how companies can engage with and benefit from the creativity of their customers.
Netflix “Stranger Things 2”
The marketing campaign for “Stranger Things 2” showcased a masterful blend of nostalgia, strategic partnerships, and immersive fan experiences that extended far beyond the screen, effectively leveraging user-generated content (UGC) to amplify excitement and engagement for the show’s second season.
Tapping into Nostalgia and User Participation
A cornerstone of the “Stranger Things 2” campaign was its appeal to 1980s nostalgia, seen in collaborations with brands like Reebok and Topshop that created themed products directly inspired by the series. This not only invoked a sense of the past for older audiences but also introduced younger generations to the iconic aesthetics of the 80s.
Fans were encouraged to interact with these brands, sharing their own content by wearing the clothing, shoes, and engaging with themed installations such as Topshop’s flagship store transformation. User-generated content emerged organically as fans posted their experiences on social media, which not only promoted the show but also the partnered brands, creating a multifaceted marketing force.
Social Media Buzz and Interactive Experiences
The release of the “Stranger Things 2” trailer during the Super Bowl capitalized on one of television’s biggest annual events, prompting a flurry of online excitement that translated into a significant spike in viewership for Season 1. By creating a moment that was inherently shareable, Netflix harnessed the power of user generated content campaigns, with fans generating social media content that contributed to the virality of the campaign.
Furthermore, experiences like Lyft’s “Strange Rides” in select cities invited users to participate in a real-world extension of the show’s universe. These rides not only generated word-of-mouth marketing but also inspired passengers to share their experiences on platforms like Twitter and Instagram, creating a ripple effect of user-generated content that brought attention back to the show.
Spotify and Personalized Engagement
Spotify’s feature, which matched users to a “Stranger Things” character and corresponding playlist, was particularly effective at generating UGC. It personalized the user experience by connecting fans with the characters and music they love, encouraging them to share their character matches and playlists. This feature not only amplified engagement with the show’s soundtrack but also extended the user experience, intertwining personal identity with the “Stranger Things” brand.
A Season Launch That Turned the World Upside-Down
The timing of the release, just before Halloween, was also strategic in encouraging user-generated content. Fans were incentivized to incorporate “Stranger Things” into their Halloween celebrations, sharing costumes, themed parties, and décor across social media platforms, further cementing the show in the fabric of popular culture.
In conclusion, the “Stranger Things 2” user generated content campaign is an exemplary case of user-generated content in action. By creating shareable moments, fostering partnerships that engage audiences, and providing personalized experiences, Netflix cultivated a marketing ecosystem where users were not just passive consumers but active participants, amplifying the reach and impact of the campaign with content they created and shared, all of which kept the show in public conversation and drove its success.
Starbucks White Cup Contest
The “White Cup” campaign by Starbucks is a quintessential showcase of UGC campaigns. Launched in April 2014, this initiative stood out as a beacon of how brands can engage with their customers creatively and foster a community through shared creativity.
Here’s why the “White Cup” campaign is celebrated as a stellar example of UGC:
Encouragement of Customer Creativity: Starbucks recognized an organic trend of customers doodling on their cups and transformed it into a contest, #WhiteCupContest. By doing so, they not only validated their customers’ artistic efforts but also encouraged them to share their creativity with a wider audience. This was not just a campaign; it was a canvas for expression.
Viral Social Media Engagement: The campaign leveraged social media platforms, harnessing the power of hashtags to ignite a movement. With nearly 4,000 entries in three weeks, the brand was able to generate a massive amount of content with minimal investment, tapping into the viral nature of social sharing.
Authentic Brand-Consumer Connection: UGC is authentic by nature, and Starbucks’ campaign capitalized on this authenticity. The personal investment of each participant in creating their cup design fostered a genuine connection with the brand, transforming customers into active participants in the Starbucks story.
Sustainability Highlight: The campaign also subtly promoted Starbucks’ dedication to sustainability. By showcasing the reusable cups, the brand could reinforce its environmental commitments in a manner that resonated with its audience, further enriching the brand’s image.
Creation of Brand Advocates: The contest winners experienced a unique joy of seeing their designs on Starbucks cups in stores, which likely transformed them into brand advocates. Their loyalty and advocacy go beyond that of average customers, as they have left a personal mark on the brand itself.
Long-Term Impact: The winning designs, due to their popularity, continued to influence Starbucks’ product lines long after the campaign concluded, demonstrating the enduring power of integrating customer creativity into a brand’s offerings.
The Starbucks “White Cup” campaign is a blueprint for successful consumer generated content, showcasing how brands can engage with customers, amplify their message, and build a dedicated community, all while fostering an environment of creativity and sharing. This campaign didn’t just tell a story; it invited customers to become part of the narrative, illustrating the profound impact UGC can have when harnessed effectively.
Bob’s Burgers Fan Art
In a move that could only be described as a love letter to its fans, “Bob’s Burgers” did something unprecedented: it aired a fan-animated episode. This wasn’t merely a nod to the fandom; it was a full-fledged embrace, handing over the creative reins to those who have celebrated the show through their artistry.
With contributions from 62 fan artists, the Season 8 premiere of “Bob’s Burgers” was transformed into a vibrant tapestry, each segment reflecting a different style and color scheme. It was a celebration of diversity in artistic expression, as each frame brought the individual’s unique interpretation and flair to the beloved characters of the show.
Cultivating Community Through Creativity
The impact of this initiative on the fandom was immeasurable. It wasn’t just about growing the fan base; it was about energizing it, validating the hours fans spent sketching and imagining the characters in their distinctive styles. By showcasing fan art in an actual episode, “Bob’s Burgers” sent a clear message: fan contributions are valued, appreciated, and essential to the fabric of the show’s community.
Weekly Celebrations of Fan Contributions
The fan art episode was not the endpoint of this engagement with UGC; it was just the beginning. “Bob’s Burgers” continues to share fan art on its social media platforms almost weekly, keeping the fandom’s creative pulse thriving. This consistent recognition keeps the dialogue between the show and its fans alive, building anticipation for future episodes and fostering a sense of belonging among fans.
Legacy of the Fan Art Episode
The brilliance of this UGC strategy lies in its ability to keep fans invested. It’s a cyclical feed of creativity: the show inspires the fans, the fans inspire the show, and the outcome is a growing collective of artists and enthusiasts who feel seen and heard. In an era where shows compete for fleeting attention spans, “Bob’s Burgers” has successfully fortified its relevance and presence in the hearts and feeds of its audience.
The fan art episode was more than just a smart marketing move; it was a testament to the power of community-driven content. By blurring the lines between creator and consumer, “Bob’s Burgers” not only grew its fandom but also nurtured a vibrant, participatory culture that continues to contribute to the show’s charm and success. This approach has elevated the concept of UGC from a marketing tactic to an essential ingredient in the recipe for enduring fan loyalty.
Aerie “Real” Campaign
The “Aerie Real” campaign launched by the lifestyle brand Aerie stands as a powerful testament to the effectiveness and impact of user-generated content (UGC) in marketing. Launched as a bold move to celebrate natural beauty, the campaign featured unretouched photos of models, both professional and amateur, embracing their true selves without the veil of digital alterations. This initiative not only garnered praise for its authenticity but also sparked a broader movement towards body positivity and inclusivity in the fashion industry.
Here’s why the “Aerie Real” campaign is an exceptional example of UGC:
Empowerment Through Authenticity: By using unretouched photos, Aerie empowered real customers to become the face of the campaign. This authenticity inspired users to share their own unedited images, generating a wealth of relatable content that resonated with the audience much more deeply than traditional, polished advertising.
Fostering a Community: Aerie leveraged the power of social media hashtags to encourage customers to post their own content, thereby fostering an inclusive community. Women from all walks of life took to Instagram and other platforms to share their personal stories and photos, using #AerieReal, which enhanced the reach and relatability of the campaign.
Creating Loyal Advocates: The campaign’s embrace of real bodies and rejection of the unrealistic standards often portrayed in media didn’t just sell products—it built a movement. Users became brand advocates, often fiercely loyal to Aerie for standing by values that many customers shared, further amplifying the brand’s message.
Evolution into a Foundation: The initial launch of the #AerieReal campaign was not the end but the beginning. The brand’s commitment to featuring real fans and their stories has kept the campaign fresh and ongoing. Regularly highlighting user-generated content on their social media platforms keeps the community engaged and the content stream vibrant.
Building on the success of the campaign, Aerie announced the Aerie Real Foundation, formalizing the brand’s commitment to body confidence and inclusivity. This evolution from campaign to sustained corporate social responsibility initiative demonstrates the depth of connection between the brand and its audience’s values, fueled by the authenticity and engagement of UGC.
In a world where consumers increasingly demand authenticity and reject unrealistic beauty standards, the “Aerie Real” campaign has not only set a new precedent for marketing but also illustrated the transformative power of user-generated content in creating a community, a movement, and a legacy that transcends the brand itself.
You are one of two types of people in this world—someone who shares their Spotify Wrapped list every year, or someone who is annoyed by all the Wrapped content flooding your Insta stories. But regardless of which camp you fall into, there’s no denying the viral sensation that is Spotify Wrapped. A brilliant showcase of user-generated content, Spotify Wrapped transforms personal listening habits into a global sharing phenomenon that hits the high notes of marketing strategy genius.
Each year, Spotify listeners are presented with a vibrant, customized breakdown of their yearly listening trends. It’s not just a summary; it’s a deeply personal story set to the soundtrack of their life over the past year. It highlights favorite genres, top songs, and even how many minutes they spent streaming. The feature is designed for sharing, turning personal data into social currency that users eagerly post across their favorite social media channels.
But why is this such a sterling example of UGC? It’s because Spotify Wrapped taps into the innate human desire to express individuality and belonging simultaneously. It sparks conversation, creates connection, and leads to a massive organic spread across social media platforms. Users become the unwitting amplifiers of the Spotify brand, proudly showcasing their unique musical fingerprint while contributing to a larger narrative that everyone is a part of.
In doing so, Spotify accomplishes what most brands can only dream of: creating an advertisement that people are excited to interact with and share. The Wrapped campaign blurs the lines between consumer and creator, as each shared Wrapped experience feels as original as the last. By personalizing these touchpoints, Spotify isn’t just promoting their service; they’re celebrating the diversity of their user base.
Moreover, Wrapped often becomes a cultural checkpoint, a reflective moment that defines the zeitgeist of the year through music. As these shared Wrapped stories cascade across social media, they generate buzz not just for the users, but for the artists and tracks that are featured as well. This buzz creates a feedback loop that boosts streaming numbers and artist visibility—a win-win for the platform and its content creators.
In an era where authenticity is the currency of engagement in the digital marketplace, Spotify Wrapped emerges not just as a campaign, but as a cultural event. It harnesses the power of UGC to turn listeners into storytellers and influencers, making it a triumph of modern marketing that resonates with audiences worldwide.
The power of user-generated content in today’s digital marketing landscape is undeniable. From Lego Ideas harnessing the creative spirit of its fans, to the immersive experience of “Stranger Things 2” that turned viewers into promoters, to Starbucks’ White Cup Contest which transformed a simple coffee cup into a canvas for expression, brands are finding innovative ways to engage their audiences. “Bob’s Burgers” took it a step further by integrating fan art into the very fabric of an episode, while Aerie’s #aerieReal UCG campaign not only celebrated authenticity but also bolstered a community for a cause. Finally, Spotify Wrapped turned personal listening into a shared social experience, creating a new cultural tradition.
Each of these campaigns illustrates that when brands empower their consumers to be part of the story, they cultivate not just customers, but communities and advocates. The success of these initiatives serves as a testament to the transformative effect that UGC can have, offering a blueprint for others to follow in the evolving narrative of digital marketing.
Frequently Asked Questions
What do you mean by user-generated content?
User-generated content (UGC) refers to any form of content—such as text, videos, images, reviews, etc.—that has been created and put out there by unpaid contributors or, in other words, fans. It is the act of users promoting a brand rather than the brand promoting itself. UGC can take various forms, from comments on a forum, blog posts, photos shared on social media, to videos on platforms like YouTube or TikTok.
Why is UGC so important?
UGC is crucial because it shifts the narrative from the brand to the consumer, allowing for more authentic and trusted engagement. This content is seen as more genuine and relatable, making it a powerful marketing tool. It enhances social proof, as prospective customers often value the opinions and experiences of their peers over traditional advertising. Plus, it can greatly expand a brand’s reach and presence online at a lower cost compared to traditional marketing strategies.
How do I get UGC content?
To encourage UGC, brands can create campaigns that invite consumers to share their experiences, hold contests, or offer incentives for users to create content. Providing a hashtag for social media, encouraging reviews, and engaging with user content by sharing or commenting can also foster UGC. It’s important to build a community around your brand where customers feel valued and motivated to contribute their own content.
What does a UGC creator do?
A UGC creator is someone who produces content based on their experiences, opinions, or stories related to a brand or product. They are not typically affiliated with the brand they are promoting, which distinguishes their content from that of an official brand ambassador. Their content is often considered more honest and relatable. UGC creators can be customers, fans, or even influencers who produce content out of their appreciation or interest in a brand, rather than for compensation.