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The Power of User-Generated Content: The Best Examples of UGC Content Use

Updated: Jul 21, 2023

User-generated content can be sourced in various ways. One option is to pay for it, another to use clever marketing strategies such as competitions. We wanted to bring you some of the most successful examples of UGC content creation where a variety of options have been used.

User-generated content (UGC) has become a driving force behind successful marketing campaigns and brand engagement. UGC content is any content, whether it be text, images, videos, or reviews, created by consumers rather than the brand itself. The authenticity and relatability of UGC makes it a potent tool for businesses to connect with their audience on a deeper level. UGC content use has really taken off, with it being used by micro brands to large household names.

Here is just a snapshot of some of the best UGC marketing strategies used by brands.

GoPro camera taking a photo of the ocean
Image by a GoPro customer

#1 - GoPro's Thrilling User-Generated Adventure

GoPro, a household name for action cameras, has mastered the art of leveraging UGC. By encouraging their customers to share their exciting adventures and experiences captured on GoPro cameras, the company has built a massive repository of jaw-dropping content. This content is then featured on their website, social media channels, and even in commercials, showcasing the incredible capabilities of their cameras and inspiring potential customers to embrace their own adventures. GoPro has achieved this via GoPro Awards and a variety of their challenges such as GoPro Grom Quest, Photo of the Day Challenge, Anything Awesome Challenge and Be A Hero Challenge. GoPro's UGC-driven approach has not only strengthened their brand identity but also generated immense word-of-mouth marketing. The sense of community and inclusion makes it a nice brand that you really want to subscribe to and to be part of.

#2 - Starbucks' Red Cup Contest

In 2016 Starbucks harnessed the power of UGC by running a "Red Cup Art" contest. Customers were encouraged to create and share their unique designs on the iconic Starbucks red cups during the holiday season by using the hashtag #redcupart on Instagram and Twitter. Participants flooded social media with their artistic renditions, generating buzz and excitement around the brand. This creative UGC initiative not only promoted customer engagement but also created a sense of community among Starbucks enthusiasts.

Starbucks red cups showing different Christmas designs
Starbucks red cups featuring different seasonal designs

#3 - Airbnb's Storytelling through UGC

Airbnb, the online platform for lodging rentals, understands the compelling nature of storytelling. They regularly feature hosts' and customers' content across their social media channels, website and even their magazine. This became part of the Airbnb identity in 2014, when the CEO Brian Chesky unveiled the brand's new philosophy in the company's magazine. He explained, "We are a community of individuals, and yet there's a consistency holding us together through the values we share." It became important to show how Airbnb was about creating a homely feeling. Chesky said, "You see, a house is just a space, but a home is where you belong. And what makes this global community so special is that for the very first time, you can belong anywhere." By showcasing authentic experiences through UGC, Airbnb humanised their brand and emphasised the idea of belonging, which is at the core of their business model. Moreover, the idea of "belonging anywhere" has especially spoken to the rising number of digital nomads. This approach has not only improved brand loyalty but also established Airbnb as more than just a booking platform; it became a platform that fosters meaningful connections.

"You see, a house is just a space, but a home is where you belong. And what makes this global community so special is that for the very first time, you can belong anywhere."

#4 - Coca-Cola's "Share a Coke" Campaign

Coca-Cola's "Share a Coke" campaign took personalisation to a whole new level. The company replaced its iconic logo with popular names and phrases on its bottles and cans, encouraging customers to share personalised Coke moments. People eagerly searched for their names on the bottles and enthusiastically shared photos of themselves enjoying the personalised Coke. This UGC campaign created a significant buzz on social media, revitalised brand engagement, and boosted sales, proving that personalization and UGC can be a powerful combination.

Share a Coke advert showing two personalised bottles
Share a Coke advert

Adobe, the creative software giant, launched the #AdobePerspective campaign, inviting users to showcase their artistic creations and how Adobe products helped them achieve their vision. The campaign featured artists, designers, and photographers, turning the spotlight on the creative community. By highlighting the work of their users, Adobe not only gained credibility but also motivated other aspiring artists to consider Adobe products for their creative endeavours. This UGC initiative reinforced Adobe's position as a leader in the creative industry while empowering their user base.

National Geographic, renowned for their stunning photography, took UGC to the next level with "Your Shot". This initiative allowed amateur photographers to submit their best shots, giving them a chance to be featured on National Geographic's website and social media channels. The platform not only curated remarkable content but also served as a community for photography enthusiasts to learn and improve their skills. National Geographic's "Your Shot" is a brilliant example of UGC that nurtures a dedicated and passionate user community.

These are just some of the best examples of UGC, where user-generated content has proven to be an invaluable asset for businesses across various industries. It fosters genuine connections, builds trust, and drives brand loyalty like no other form of content. The examples provided above are just a glimpse of how companies have successfully harnessed UGC to elevate their marketing efforts. By encouraging their customers to be part of the brand story and by embracing the creativity of their audience, these companies have not only transformed their marketing strategies but also enriched the overall customer experience. As technology and social media continue to evolve, it is safe to say that user-generated content will remain a powerful tool for businesses seeking authentic and compelling ways to engage with their audience, whether it is paid for, gifted or gained via competitions and campaigns.

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