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5 User-Generated Content Campaigns From 2020 To Learn From


There is intense competition in digital marketing. Brands try to outdo each other with creative ideas and stunning visuals. Across platforms, consumers are faced with direct ads that promise the best product and service. So, how do you stand out?

Now, consider it’s your friends telling you about a product. You will likely listen to your friends and buy from that brand. In fact, 84% of consumers say they trust peer recommendations above all other sources of advertising.

In other words, to stand out, you need to create campaigns that highlight real people’s experiences using your product, a way of social proof marketing. This is where user-generated content (UGC) campaigns come in.

With UGC campaigns, it’s your customers who showcase your product across social media channels through content they made. That content can come in any form — images, videos, testimonials, or even blogs. 

To help you with your next campaign, let’s look at five UGC campaigns and see what we can learn from them. Let’s start!

1. MADE.com

MADE.com is an upscale furniture company that has always relied on user-generated campaigns to ensure continued fresh and engaging content. In 2019, it launched the #MADEdesign campaign.

Customers took photos of MADE.com furniture in their homes and posted those pictures on social media. According to a study, this gave MADE.com a product coverage of 41%. 98% of the content collected was also organic. 

MADE.com extended its UGC run in 2020 with its “Stay Grounded” campaign. The campaign was centered on how to make the most of your time amid the coronavirus-induced lockdown. MADE.com customers were encouraged to show how they were using MADE.com furniture to style their homes–including home offices–amid the pandemic. 

Customers also included tips on how to make the most of small houses and decorate outdoor spaces. The result was a campaign that provided non-customers with social proof. The campaign also generated a lot of engagement as MADE.com customers shared pictures of those products in their homes. 

That’s not surprising. UGC-based content gets up to 4 times higher click-through rates than average content. This campaign took off as posts featured real homes and not showroom set-ups; content shoppers can relate to. 

2. Doritos

Snacks brand Doritos celebrated the return of the NFL season with a unique user-generated campaign. The #CrashFromHome campaign took place amid stay-at-home orders.

NFL fans and Doritos customers were asked to shoot fan-made Doritos commercials and post them online. The creators of the best commercials would take home a cash prize, and a compilation of their short videos would be shown as an advertisement during the first game of the NFL season. 

The CrashFromHome campaign leveraged UGC content that didn’t just promote the product but also entertained and engaged audiences. With sports content dwindling during quarantine, the brand capitalized on people’s eagerness for the return of NFL games to create a campaign that drove engagement

As this campaign shows, UGC can boost sales and engage your core audience. To improve the chance of success, it’s worth utilizing multiple marketing channels to increase reach. For example, you can run an affiliate marketing campaign across multiple affiliate marketing networks to incentivize niche influencers with a large audience to get involved.

3. Buffalo Wild Wings

The lockdown in 2020 meant all video production and live sporting action would be put to a halt. For a sports bar like Buffalo Wild Wings, this meant having to think outside the box for its video marketing

For the campaign “Sports Live on”, the brand asked people to film a video of any made-up sports at home and share on social media. Those videos were then compiled into one ad. 

The campaign took less than a week to execute, but it was a perfect example of how brands can use UGC. Thanks to the UGC campaign, the brand didn’t just increase brand awareness. It also reconnected with its audience through humor. Who doesn’t like to see videos of people playing soccer with a toilet roll, after all?

4. Cisco

Not all user-generated campaigns are meant to drive sales. You can utilize UGC to promote your brand community and its culture. 

Tech giant Cisco ran the “We Are Cisco” campaign with this objective in mind. Cisco let employees tell their story for the brand campaign that was launched amid the sudden shift to remote work during the pandemic. This is a prime example of employee-generated content, a widely underused form of authentic marketing that takes customers deeper into your brand values.

Acting as brand ambassadors, Cisco employees managed to create relatable content. They highlighted positive stories and showed Cisco behind-the-scenes to highlight the company culture. 

The result? Cisco won gold for ‘Best User-Generated Content’ in the Corporate Content Awards

Why wouldn’t it win? The campaign didn’t merely showcase the company’s culture and values. It gave employees the spotlight, which was a definite morale-booster for them amid difficult times. 

5. Tesco

Supermarket chain Tesco got its “Food Love Stories” campaign and gave it a spin to reflect the pandemic’s current situation. 

The original ad was shot by a professional and showed people dedicating a meal they cooked to people they love. The 2020 campaign, however, showed Tesco customers cooking a meal and dedicating that meal to a specific person they missed during the lockdown. The videos were also not shot with fancy equipment, but with customers’ mobile phones. 

The ad didn’t just subtly (and successfully) promote Tesco products while giving its brand community the opportunity to become content creators. It also appealed to people’s emotions when people couldn’t be in the same place as the people they love.

User-generated content is a great way to engage with your audience while showcasing your brand. It’s a relatively cheap, often free, way to market your products. You don’t have to spend as much time creating marketing content either since your customers will do that for you.

Take your cue from these brands that have shown that it’s possible to run UGC campaigns that help you achieve, even exceed, your marketing goals even in tough times. With the pandemic restricting movement in 2020, the brands focused on getting across positive messages and appealing to human emotions to drive engagement. 

So, what are you waiting for? Your next UGC campaign awaits!

Domingo Karsten has over 10 years experience in online marketing. He is involved with We Can Track. His writing has been featured in FastCompany and others, follow him on Twitter at @domingokarsten.

Special thanks to our friends at Pixlee for their insights on this topic.
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