15 Powerful User-Generated Content Ecommerce Campaigns

Ecommerce Best Practices | 10 mins

User-generated content campaigns are nothing new in ecommerce—but they weren’t always embraced by retailers. Initially, the tactic seemed reserved for companies catering to younger millennial consumers who were especially active on social channels.

Beauty brand Glossier shares a selfie from one of its customers.

Today that isn’t the case. Ecommerce retailers of all types are leveraging UGC as more consumers become regular social users. Research from the visual marketing platform Olapic shows that consumers today are 56% more likely to make a purchase after seeing a photo of the product shared by happy customers. Plus, they’re 76% more likely to trust user-generated content than traditional advertising.

No matter what you offer online, it’s time to boost your marketing strategy with a UGC campaign if you haven’t already. To give you ideas on how to curate your own campaign, we’re highlighting 15 of our favorite user-generated content examples from ecommerce retailers. We’ll break down how they motivate their shoppers to share their photos and how these brands make the most of the content they receive from customers.

Outdoor equipment brands

It doesn’t matter how much a customer praises your product in their UGC caption. Shoppers need to see stunning visual content to stop scrolling through their feed and look at what your customers posted. In this sense, outdoor brands are at an advantage with UGC. Customers of these companies tend to post gorgeous pictures of natural landscapes that grab users’ attention quickly.

REI

Four years ago, outdoor retailer REI shut down its stores on Black Friday and encouraged customers to share photos of themselves spending time in nature with the #OptOutside hashtag instead. In the campaign’s first year alone, it got 1.2 billion social impressions — and 1.4 million people to spend Black Friday outdoors.

Takeaway: Tie your user-generated campaign to the strong values of your company. Customers will appreciate your public stance, even if it means going against the grain.

Moosejaw

With UGC, brands will occasionally offer prizes to users with exceptional photos. Rarely, though, do brands give away a product to anyone who participates in the campaign. The outdoor retailer Moosejaw is an exception to the rule. It sends a free Moosejaw flag to anyone who wants to participate in its #lovethemadness campaign. These recipients are invited to share a picture of themselves with the flag on their outdoor adventures.

Takeaway: Offer a gift to those who want to participate in your campaign, and they’ll feel more motivated to submit their photos.

Patagonia

This outdoor equipment and clothing company knows that its customers dream of going on breathtaking adventures in the outdoors. To showcase these incredible experiences, the brand created a #VidaPatagonia hashtag for influencers and shoppers to tag in their Patagonia climbing trip photos. Seeing pictures of these trips, shoppers will likely want to go on their own adventures with Patagonia’s products. At the very least, shoppers will consider purchasing its products after seeing how durable they are for other customers in the outdoors.

Takeaway: Create an aspirational UGC campaign that shows shoppers how your customers are using your products in exciting ways.

L.L. Bean

To encourage shoppers to share their photos, the outdoor clothing and equipment company L.L. Bean hosts a photo contest every year that lasts from January to December. Customers are invited to share a photo of them and their friends and family enjoying the outdoors with this year’s hashtag #llbeancontest19. At the end of the year, a panel of judges selects the 12 best photos, and each winner receives a $100 L.L. Bean gift card. The campaign is very popular with close to 5.5K social media posts.

Takeaway: Motivate shoppers to submit photos using your hashtag by offering a chance to win a prize.

Tech device brands

Shoppers won’t buy technology unless they believe it will improve their lives, whether it’s taking high-quality photos with a new camera or playing music hands-free with Bluetooth headphones. To highlight how their brand benefits customers, tech device companies can use UGC campaigns to showcase what buyers are accomplishing with their products.

GoPro

The camera company GoPro is a master at obtaining user-generated content. The brand has a Photo of the Day campaign on Instagram where it features its favorite #GoPro photo. Knowing how big GoPro’s Instagram presence is—the company has 16.2 million followers—shoppers are eager to be featured and share many photos every day to enter the contest.

Takeaway: Post customer content regularly, and let shoppers know that you frequently repost. If your social accounts have plenty of followers, people will jump at the chance to participate in your campaign.

Apple

To highlight the power of its iPhone camera, Apple runs a UGC campaign called #ShotoniPhone. Apple has a high bar for selecting customer photos to share—the UGC pictures on the brand’s Instagram are all breathtaking with crisp details and bright colors. With nearly 10 million posts, the hashtag is incredibly popular.

Takeaway: Be selective about the content that you share. Your Instagram feed will be even more compelling, and users will feel motivated by your high standards to submit.

Amazfit

Instead of running a contest, the watch company Amazfit created a UGC challenge to connect with customers. The brand invited shoppers to follow a multi-week exercise program and share photos of being active with the #AmazfitChallenge hashtag. Proud of their fitness progress, customers were eager to share photos of themselves participating in the challenge through tweets and Instagram posts.

Takeaway: Motivate shoppers to become UGC content creators with a challenge that reflects your brand values. Users will be happy to share their accomplishments, and you’ll increase your brand awareness on social.

Home goods brands

Shoppers aren’t so convinced by pictures of furniture in catalogs. “Sure, the piece looks great in the room they feature,” they think, “but that’s because it was professionally decorated by an interior designer.” When seeing photos of furniture in customers’ homes, however, shoppers feel more confident in making purchasing decisions for their own space.

Interior Define

The furniture company Interior Define doesn’t leave shoppers to guess which of its products are in customers’ gorgeous photos of their home. Instead, the brand calls out, in photo captions, the furniture pieces that are featured in the photo. Seeing the name of the product in the UGC photo, shoppers are more likely to head to Interior Define’s online store and add the item to their cart.

Takeaway: Don’t be shy about identifying your products in users’ photos. The mention won’t sound salesy if you surround it with conversational, casual copy like Interior Define does.

Riviera Maison

Unlike most companies, the home goods store Riviera Maison created a whole category on its site dedicated to user-generated content. By clicking on the #RivieraMaison tab at the top of its homepage, shoppers can view customers’ photos of RM products. Interested buyers can click on links to product pages added by the company.

Takeaway: Make it easy for shoppers on your own website to find user-generated content with a dedicated section for customers’ photos. And don’t stop there—link these photos to product pages, so shoppers don’t have to hunt for the products they’re seeing.

Jennifer Taylor Home

Many brands allow customers to share their photos when they leave a product review, but few buyers will actually submit a picture. Instead of relying on shoppers to share photos, the furniture store Jennifer Taylor pulls UGC pictures from social media into its product pages.

Takeaway: Feature customer photos on your product pages. Either manually add these photos to your pages, or use a visual commerce platform, like Photoslurp, to automatically pull product images from social.

Kave Home

On the #kavehome section of its site, the furniture store Kave shares beautiful photos from customers that link to product pages. As a special touch, shoppers can see how many likes and comments the pictures received on social media by scrolling over the images on the company website.

Takeaway: To strengthen the social proof of UGC, highlight engagement information from social media to show how many people love your products.

Jewelry brands

No one buys high-end jewelry to wear around the house when they’re alone. Shoppers, of course, want to show off these pieces for others to see. Jewelry brands tap into this desire with UGC campaigns. By using brands’ hashtags, shoppers are able to share photos of themselves wearing their necklaces, earrings, bracelets, and more with fellow customers on social media.

Cluse

The watch company CLUSE posts UGC pictures on their home page, not just on social or a dedicated side page, to offer greater exposure to customers. The page copy encourages visitors to post their own images: “We’ll have a look and might pick your photo to show below!”

Takeaway: Your UGC content strategy doesn’t need to be focused on social media channels alone. Consider highlighting customers’ photos on your site’s homepage as well. Shoppers will be more willing to participate in your UGC campaign if they know their pictures could be featured front and center on your brand’s site.

Brilliant Earth

UGC is powerful when it’s positive. Shoppers need to see customers who are clearly happy with your product to make their own buying decision. The jewelry company Brilliant Earth understands this rule well. The brand primarily highlights photos of customers in two especially happy occasions: engagements and weddings. Their Instagram is full of pictures with glowing shoppers celebrating their relationships and showing off their beautiful Brilliant Earth rings.

Takeaway: Highlight customers celebrating big moments with your products. These pictures will make it clear to other shoppers that your products are an important part of your customers’ lives.

Apparel brands

Shoppers today aren’t as easily persuaded by pictures of models as they were in the past—consumers want to see clothing on people who look more like them. Apparel brands are able to boost shoppers’ confidence in their clothing with user-generated content. By featuring pictures of real people, clothing companies can showcase a wide, inclusive range of body types.

Outdoor Voices

The athletic wear company Outdoor Voices has made a name for itself with its #doingthings hashtag. The campaign invites shoppers to share photos of themselves doing anything active in OV clothing. The company keeps a low-pressure attitude around #doingthings, so customers aren’t intimidated and feel welcome to share their pics.

Takeaway: While a UGC challenge can be motivating, keep the bar to entry low enough so that more shoppers are able to participate and feel welcome to submit their photos.

Aerie

The women’s clothing company Aerie uses their UGC hashtag #AerieReal to promote body positivity. Customers of all shapes and sizes are featured on the brand’s feed, and the company also frequently shares encouraging captions about acceptance with the photos. With this welcoming attitude, shoppers feel comfortable sharing their pics.

Takeaway: Make your UGC campaign as inclusive as possible. You’ll receive more photos from customers, and shoppers as a whole will love your brand more.

Connect with your customers through a UGC campaign

Traditional advertising is a one-sided exchange between a business and its customers. Shoppers didn’t ask to see the promotion, and they know the brand is going to push its product.

UGC campaigns are all about reciprocity. Customers are invited to be creative and showcase themselves with your product. In return, your brand receives free marketing content that successfully attracts shoppers.

Ultimately, these campaigns build meaningful customer relationships. If shoppers submit content, they feel more connected to your brand. Or, if shoppers see your UGC, they witness how your product benefits people in their day-to-day lives. Reap the benefits of UGC campaigns by following the lead of these user-generated content examples and inviting your own customers to share their own content.