Word-of-mouth marketing has long been considered one of the most effective types of marketing. It drives $6 trillion in annual spending, and in today’s digital world, it typically happens through user-generated content (UGC).
The term refers to content — photos, video, text, etc. — that’s created and published by unpaid contributors. And it’s a big win for brands.When consumers post about a brand on social media, they influence their followers’ buying decisions. In fact, 85% of people say UGC is more influential than content made by brands directly, according to Adweek.
What makes it so successful? Let’s take a look at some user-generated content examples and explore why they work so well.
1. Monsoon: Make UGC shoppable
These images are pulled into on-site galleries, enabling consumers to easily shop the looks they see. And when Monsoon started using this same UGC in its email campaigns, click-through rate increased by 14% and revenue by 3%.
Why it works
This kind of imagery enables shoppers to more easily picture how individual items will look on them because they can see real people — not just models — wearing and enjoying the products.
But instead of just inspiring customers, Monsoon empowers them to take action. From the shoppable UGC gallery, consumers can make a purchase directly from the look they want to recreate.
2. Doritos: Provide content creation tools
Fans have created everything from snack-centric weather forecasts to pictures of themselves lounging in piles of nacho chips. Doritos keeps users engaged on the site with public challenges, such as its “oddly satisfying challenge,” which invites creators to make “hypnotizing” videos for a chance to be featured in its Instagram Stories.
And the fan-made content, such as the post below, receives thousands of likes and comments.
Why it works
The content from this campaign is outrageous and funny, so it’s no surprise that it drives a lot of engagement.
But Doritos isn’t just sharing photos of people enjoying its product with its Legions of the Bold campaign. It’s actually driving users to its website and providing them with tools to create one-of-a-kind content. And giving fans the opportunity to create their own works of art makes consumers feel connected to the brand.
In other words, it’s nacho average UGC campaign.
3. Parachute: Think outside social media
Direct to consumer bedding and bath brand Parachute encourages their audience to use the hashtag #MyParachuteHome in content featuring the company’s products. Parachute then repurposes customers’ photos in promotional content, not just social media posts.
For example, the brand uses UGC in retargeting ads, illustrating how real consumers use Parachute products. These ads, such as the right-hand one below, generated a 35% higher click-through rate and a 60% lower cost per click than ads that don’t feature UGC like the left-hand one below.
But Parachute doesn’t limit itself to implementing UGC in digital campaigns alone. The company also features UGC content on an insert card, enclosed in order boxes, that showcases how other buyers have made Parachute products a part of their home — and no doubt inspires consumers to snap some pics of their own and make another purchase.
Why it works
Many brands overlook opportunities to use UGC outside of organic social posts. Parachute, however, shows the value in repurposing this content and featuring it in ads, inserts, email campaigns, and more.
4. Glossier: Foster a community that wants to share
Beauty brand Glossier drives engagement with its social content by encouraging customers to get vulnerable and share their selfies. It does this by posting customer stories that are often heartwarming, as well as numerous photos of people using Glossier products.
In fact, the beauty brand relies more on customer-submitted imagery than it does on models and product shots. It even attributes 90% of its revenue to its fans, who eagerly take to social media to post photos of themselves using and wearing Glossier products.
For example, when the brand launched its Mega Greens Galaxy Mask, thousands of users shared selfies of themselves in the mask with the hashtag #maskforce, which Glossier reposted on its own social accounts.
Why it works
Getting recognition is one of the key reasons we post on social media, so UGC gives followers the chance to step into the spotlight. And Glossier does this with compassion and flair.
The #maskforce selfies are unique, feminine, often humorous, and 100% real, making them right on-brand for Glossier. The company aims to make “every single woman . . . an influencer,” according to founder Emily Weiss, and Glossier’s sharing of user-generated content does exactly that, giving every user a chance to be the face of the brand.
5. Citizens of Humanity: Launch campaigns with a social angle
Premium denim brand Citizens of Humanity put a social justice spin on user-generated content with its #WEAREALLHUMANITY campaign.
For every photo posted with the hashtag, $10 is donated to UN refugee agency USA for UNHCR.
Why it works
This example of user-generated content is effective because it gets people involved in a worthy cause, and Citizens of Humanity is exactly the kind of brand that its target audience wants to be associated with. In fact, 75% of millennials believe it’s important for companies to give back to society. And campaigns that give back like this one drive engagement because users are eager to share how they participated.
6. La Croix: Curate a branded look
The social media accounts of sparkling water La Croix are filled with user-generated content. From fan art to photos of young adults — its target demographic — posing with their favorite flavors, La Croix populates its feeds with content created by people who clearly love its product.
And although the content comes from a variety of creators, La Croix manages to maintain a consistently branded look. Scroll through its Instagram page and you’ll see bright colors, sunny landscapes, and smiling faces again and again.
La Croix accomplishes this in part by hosting giveaways of branded merchandise, such as the shirt featured below, and by providing interactive displays that its fans want to engage with.
Why it works
This user-submitted photo is an ideal example of La Croix’s user-generated content because it’s colorful, authentic, and humorous. And, most importantly, even its user-generated content is on brand.
7. Aerie: Be inclusive
This lingerie and swim brand invites customers of all ages and sizes to wear its designs. Aerie even pledged to stop retouching swimsuit photos and encouraged its audience to do the same.
To promote this message through UGC, the brand donates $1 to the National Eating Disorders Association for every unedited swimsuit photo an Instagram user posts with the hashtag #AerieReal.
Why it works
This campaign allows consumers to see real, unedited images of people wearing the products. It encourages body positivity among participants and has a charitable angle that modern consumers expect of brands. Consumers are more likely to share UGC when they feel accepted and celebrated by an inclusive brand, like Aerie, so the campaign encourages engagement.
Turn customers into brand ambassadors with user-generated content
These examples of user-generated content illustrate how you can empower customers to do word-of-mouth marketing on your brand’s behalf. But in order to take advantage of UGC marketing, brands must provide consumers with opportunities to share their creations.
Invite customers to post content with a specific hashtag, share user photos on social accounts, or add an on-site shoppable gallery, like Monsoon’s. Brands can also create opportunities for fans to interact with branded merchandise, like La Croix did, or direct users on site to make original content, like Doritos did.
By making user-generated content an integral part of your marketing efforts, you’re giving potential buyers an authentic look at what your customers think of you rather than simply providing them with your brand’s perspective.