How Big Brands Won With UGC Marketing—And You Can, Too

Alongside cat videos and selfies, user-generated content has gained a lot of steam on social media.

But in a world where you can promote your brand with paid ads, email, and blogs, why do you need something like user-generated content marketing, anyway?

The thing is, 90% of consumers say authenticity is important. While you can get results with other marketing strategies, they just don’t have the authenticity of user-generated content.

UGC is an effective way to get more visibility not just on your brand social media, but on all of your channels.

Image of sample content created by trend influencers

UGC works because it invites happy customers to speak on your behalf.

With an assist from your radical fanbase (and yes, we’re sure you have radical fans out there) and social media, UGC gives a much-needed facelift to your content marketing efforts.

UGC works because:

  • Customers trust each other more than they trust you (sorry, but it’s true).
  • It creates loyal brand promoters. These are customers who are just as excited about your brand as you are.
  • It personalizes your marketing, showcasing your products in real-world situations.
  • You get your time back. Stop spending so much time photographing your photos. Let your shoppers do it for you!

So you know you need to kick things into gear and start doing UGC, but how do you get started? What strategies will get you the most bang for your buck?

There’s nothing wrong with looking at other people’s papers here.

Check out these 5 winning examples of user-generated content marketing in action, and how you can apply it to your own UGC campaign.

5 powerful examples of user-generated content marketing in action


IKEA is a Swedish furniture store beloved by many across the world for its cheap, sleek designs. If you’ve ever lived in a dorm room, chances are, you’ve used an IKEA lamp or nightstand.

Despite its popularity, IKEA had a problem: it wanted to create a community around its brand.

It didn’t want the campaign to just be about furniture; IKEA wanted to connect its shoppers and deepen its relationships with customers.

IKEA created the “IKEA At Mine” campaign, which asked customers to share photos on social media of the various IKEA products in their homes.

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Here’s my first pic on here from my new phone, the clarity is sooooo good 🙌🏽!! Anyways, I’m going to stop banging on about it now; pinky promise 😬!! Have a good one- it’s nearly Friday!. . . . . . [pic contains pics from previous collabs: faux foliage from @homesense_ukie, speaker from @marshallheadphones]. . . . . . . . #myfabhome #farrowandball #pocketofmyhome #interior123 #interiormilk #bluewall #ihavethisthingwithblue #modernrustic #apartmenttherapy #theeverygirlathome #rumhemma #inspiremeneutral #mybeigelife #the_gentle_manifesto #livingroomdecor #livingroom #moreismoredecor #scandimaximalism #fearlesshome #midcenturyliving #cosyhome #cozyhome #ikeaatmine #atmine #hyggehome #cornerofmyhome #hagueblue #howyouhome #allispretty

A post shared by Lucinda Mitra (@nest_twenty_eight) on Mar 12, 2020 at 11:34am PDT

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It’s almost the weekend already?! I don’t usually say this but it’s been a total whirlwind this week, so it seems like it’s flying by! Like, sheesh! . So, I know I showed you a peek of this guest bedroom already, but nowww I can show you the finished look! I love love love the look of simplicity in a guest bedroom. All you need in my opinion is a beautiful bed and a statement piece on the wall. Honestly, I don’t think you even need two nightstands. Especially if you’re on a budget, that’s a way to save and you can absolutely get away with it! I don’t know, maybe I’m a total crazy person! 🤪. Anyways, I hope you love the look! Happy almost weekend! . . . . . . . . . . #guestbedroom #bedroomdecor #bedroominspo #bedroomideas #bedroomstyling #thesimplenaturalhome #ikeaatmine #omysa #bedroomsofinstagram #lightandbright #neutraldecor #neutralhome #heyhomehey #cornerofmyhome #sodomino #hunkerhome #mixerofstyles #mymodernlook #jessimobsessed #myinteriorvibe #ispyraddesign #sorealhomes #thatroomiseverything #thedelightofdecor #dailydecordose #dailydecordetail #homedetails #homedecor #homestylist #peepmypad

A post shared by JENNA | cozy happy home (@cozy.happy.home) on Mar 12, 2020 at 9:59am PDT

Not only did IKEA rake in tons of engagements and mentions on social media, but they took the campaign one step further.

They did a monthly roundup where they selected certain UGCs to feature on the company’s UK Instagram account.

And yes, the results were amazing.

  • IKEA saw a 27% higher reach on its UGC content over its branded content.
  • It saw 3.54% higher conversion rates and 2.7 times higher engagement rates.

Why it works

We love IKEA’s campaign because it showcases IKEA products in everyday life. Furniture shoppers have a hard time envisioning how a Swedish sofa will look in their living room, after all.

image of a cozy Ikea Home living room space that an influencer would use

Source: Ikea

But IKEA addressed this pain point with a UGC campaign. This content gave other customers an idea of what to expect when they bought IKEA furniture.

Do the same for your brand, especially if you sell a large or high-ticket type of item, like furniture. You can minimize customer objections and the time needed to educate your shoppers, saving your team a lot of heartache.

2 – Coca-Cola

Well, beverage giant Coca-Cola is a household name in countries around the globe, but it still wanted to deepen its bond with customers.

After all, with Pepsi breathing down its back, Coca-Cola knew UGC marketing could give it an edge.

Coca-Cola’s “Share A Coke” campaign first hit Australia in 2011. The strategy was simple: print 150 of Australia’s most popular names on Coke bottles.

They printed the CTA, “Share A Coke With…,” alongside the name. Needless to say, this campaign spread like hot gossip.

Share a coke example

Source: Coke Store

Coca-Cola ran “Share A Coke” in 80 countries across the globe, selecting 150 of each country’s most popular names.

Its gamble on UGC marketing paid off.

  • Young adult consumption of Coca-Cola rose by 7% across the globe.
  • Coca-Cola’s Facebook traffic increased 9 times over from this campaign.

Why it works

Coca-Cola made people feel special. How cool does it feel going into the grocery store and seeing your name on a Coke bottle?

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Tag a sister who you would share a coke with.. 🥤#ShareACoke @smuchio

A post shared by B-Unlimited Greek Apparel (@bunlimitedgreek) on Nov 14, 2019 at 12:45pm PST

Personalization was the key to Coca-Cola’s user-generated content marketing strategy.

How can you personalize your UGC? How do you make shoppers the star of the show? The more personalized and shareable it is, the better your chances of customer engagement.

3 – Marc Jacobs

Fashion house Marc Jacobs is known for its clothes, purses,  and accessories. Although UGC is a little more unusual for a high-end brand, Marc Jacobs wanted to boost its reach.

Starting in 2014, Marc Jacobs launched its #CastMeMarc campaign.

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Let me ur person and ur poison

A post shared by 𝐋𝐢𝐥𝐲 𝐋𝐞𝐞𝐥𝐚𝐰𝐚𝐧 𝐏. (@lillyyp) on Nov 4, 2019 at 4:47am PST

Instead of casting professional models, Marc Jacobs invited everyday folks to submit their selfies to #CastMeMarc for a chance to be the company’s next model.

And if you give the world a chance to be a supermodel, they’ll take it. This campaign saw:

  • 70,000 participants in 2014 alone.
  • 15,000 mentions in 24 hours.

In fact, the campaign was so successful that Marc Jacobs is still doing it today, 6 years after the fact.

Why it works

Everybody wants to feel special. Marc Jacobs tapped into its followers’ desire to have a really cool experience that made them feel special.

Plus, it saved Marc Jacobs the hassle of sourcing models, photographers, and more for its campaigns. It’s a brilliant move that put customers at the forefront of the campaign.

Even if you’re in the luxury space, see how you can make people feel special. That might mean:

  • Offering shoutouts on your social media.
  • Giving freebies or discounts.
  • Interviewing customers and telling their stories.

However you do it, make your customers the star of the show, always.

4 – Apple

Although Apple had an intense following during its Steve Job years, user trust had dwindled. Desperate to remind people why its smartphones were top-notch, Apple launched the #ShotOnIphone campaign.

#ShotOnIphone invited Apple users to take low-light shots on their phones with zero editing.

image of a mountain temple shot on an iPhone

Source: Apple

image of a clearing in a forest shot on iPhone

Source: Apple

The goal? To show the power of the iPhone camera.

And it worked! #ShotOnIphone:

  • Got 24,000 mentions
  • Saw 95% positive comments on social media
  • Garnered 6.5 billion impressions

Apple even took its UGC and compiled it in several YouTube videos, helping it regain even more followers.

Why it works

Apple got a lot of mileage out of its #ShotOnIphone campaign. Don’t be afraid to repurpose user-generated content for your marketing.

For example, Apple turned its UGC images into a YouTube video, taking content from Instagram and sharing it with a wider audience.

You work hard for your UGC—so use it! Repurpose Instagram content on:

  • YouTube
  • Your website
  • A blog
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest

If you’re struggling to curate UGC yourself, you can always partner up with Trend. We help brands source UGC to repurpose in everything from ads to social posts.

5- Disney

Heartwarming hero and master of musical storytelling, Disney, wanted to not only connect with its customers, but do a little good in the process.

That’s why The Mouse House launched its #ShareYourEars campaign in 2018. Celebrating Mickey Mouse’s 90th birthday, #ShareYourEars pledged a $5 donation to the Make A Wish Foundation for every selfie submitted.

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This was the photo that made me want to get a real camera and sparked my interest in photography. Love this shot and the pure joy in her face 🥰 . . . . . #samanthaariel #twoyearsago #endlessmagic #disneybaby #disneyworld @disneyparks #magickingdom #waltdisneyworld #shareyourears #disneymagic #disneyfamily #disneystyle #mydisneyside #rockthedots #wegotearssaycheers #timehop #cutekids #southfloridaphotography #disneyphotography #southfloridaphotographer #kidphotography #childphotography #fortlauderdalephotographer #fortlauderdalephotography #christmas #christmasphotos #christmasphotoshoot #holidayphotos #christmasinflorida #floridaphotographer #floridaphotography

A post shared by Sara (@samiandabbysmom) on Nov 12, 2019 at 9:39am PST

If there’s one thing Disney-lovers love more than a trip to Disney World, it’s Mickey Mouse ears. People were more than happy to share their mouse ears selfie in this campaign.

#ShareYourEars had tremendous reach:

  • 400,000 people participated.
  • Disney donated $2 million to Make A Wish as a result of the campaign.

Why it works

Disney co-branded #ShareYourEars with a charity, which was a very smart move.

73% of American shoppers say charitable donations are important when they think about buying from a company. In other words, customers are way more likely to participate in your UGC and buy from you down the road if they see you doing good deeds.

mother and daughter image for Disney Share Your Ears campaign

If you need an extra lift with your UGC marketing campaign, co-brand with a charity. Your donations will make the world a better place and boost your brand at the same time.

The bottom line

User-generated content marketing is the fastest way to build trust with today’s skeptical, social media-loving shoppers. But remember, UGC has to work for both your audience and your brand.

This isn’t about the hard sell. It’s about building community and conversations around your brand.

Learn from the giants of user-generated content marketing. Use these 5 case studies to develop tighter, more streamlined UGC that puts your brand in the spotlight.

But does that sound overwhelming already? We feel you. Trying UGC for the first time while balancing your other duties can feel like drinking from the firehose.

That’s why Trend helps brands like yours source high-quality user-generated content. Let us help you source on-brand content that stops thumbs.

Schedule a quick demo of the Trend platform to kick off your UGC efforts.