The Best User-Generated Content Instagram Campaigns [Slideshare]

Last updated on February 7, 2024

Image Credit: Yotpo Studio
Roni Klein
February 23rd, 2017 | 8 minutes read

Meet our resident Instagram addict, marketing designer Roni Klein.

Table Of Contents

She’s given us her top picks for the best UGC Instagram campaigns, and she even added in her best tips for brands to find success in their own campaigns

The TL;DR of Roni’s choice selections is in this Slideshare: “The Best UGC Instagram Campaigns, Picked by Our Head of Design.” It covers her top reasons why big brands like Nike, Starbucks, and Marc by Marc Jacobs had such wildly successful Instagram campaigns and gives you strategies to do the same.

Check it out, and then read her post below for more details on how to launch similar UGC Instagram campaigns and reap the rewards.


Why UGC Instagram Campaigns Matter for Brands

As a designer, Instagram is important to me not just for staying connected, but also for my work.

I love its simplicity and emphasis on visuals, and I constantly find graphics or ideas I want to save and reference later for work.

Like many consumers, I also follow a bunch of my favorite brands on Instagram.

More and more, brands are understanding that Instagram is a special place for businesses to be. Companies are now designing images and graphics especially for advertising on Instagram.

But many brands are still struggling to make the most of this social eCommerce trend and to create a marketing strategy that capitalizes on Instagram’s benefits by using the best Instagram marketing tips to attract customers.

The most successful brands know that the secret to winning over their audience is creating user-generated content campaigns on social.

These typically have super high engagement rates and form positive brand associations in customers’ minds.

UGC Instagram campaigns tend to be more successful than other social campaigns because of the visual nature of the platform and the fact that Instagram’s engagement rate is higher than all other social channels.

Lessons From The 4 Most Successful Instagram Campaigns

For this post, I handpicked some of the best user-generated content Instagram campaigns out there.

Each of these caught my eye because of the clever UGC marketing strategies they used to achieve their business goals.

Here are a few examples of brands that mastered user-generated content Instagram campaigns – along with actionable takeaways on how to to harness UGC campaigns to attract your target audience.

Skyrocket engagement levels with rewards customers can't resist

Marc by Marc Jacobs #CastMeMarc Campaign Generated Crazy Buzz

The #CastMeMarc campaign by Marc by Marc Jacobs pinpointed the perfect way to generate audience involvement.

The key here was that the contest offered a reward that was enticing enough to elicit real participation en masse.

The competition was for the chance to be a Marc by Marc Jacobs model, and it asked Instagram followers to submit selfies with the hashtag #CastMeMarc in order to participate in a digital casting call.

The results?

The hashtag #CastMeMarc was Instagrammed over 12,000 times in 24 hours – that’s about 8 selfies a minute.

It was so successful that the premier fashion house used it as the basis for another Instagram campaign, this time to find a beauty vlogger for the brand.

#CastMeMarc Instagram UGC contest

Customer photo contests attract engagement from participators as well as spectators, because people are on Instagram to interact with visual content – even if they don’t submit, they’ll still like and share.

You can replicate this in your own UGC campaigns by understanding what motivates your specific audience. This way, you can decide on a reward so appealing that it won’t just elicit participation, but will also get others involved in wanting to watch and track the contest.

People love reality TV shows like American Idol and The Bachelor because they can watch regular people have a shot at fame.

UGC campaigns like this one break down the wall between high fashion and everyday people by giving anyone a shot at becoming a Marc by Marc Jacobs model, and that’s just the sort of reward that has people reaching for their selfie sticks.

Allow customers to use content they already have

Nike PHOTOiD Campaign Makes Submitting Content Fun

Rather than asking customers to specifically create content for your campaign, why not make it easy for them and use content they already have and love?

People are on social to connect to their friends and share their special moments. They may be less likely to take photos specifically for a brand’s benefit than for their own.

A smart way to elicit genuine participation is to have customers use their own content and repurpose it for your Instagram UGC campaign.

The Nike PHOTOiD campaign lets users design, share, and buy custom shoes inspired by customers’ very own Instagram photos.

Customers can upload their favorite Instagram photos and then design shoes that complement the photo. This creative social media campaign encourages users to think outside of the box when crafting their creations.

It’s also an innovative way for Nike to sell through Instagram, since all the customized kicks are available for purchase.

Nike PHOTOid UGC Instagram campaign

This campaign is an example I regularly use with my design students because it takes a unique approach by integrating customer photos as the background for the shoe design, personalized and created in real-time.

Not only can customers create a special product perfectly tailored to a specific photo, but they can share the shoes on Instagram, which works as word-of-mouth advertisement and encourages other people to participate in the campaign. Also, it’s fun – you can design shoes for hours!

Use content from UGC campaigns in your marketing materials

IKEA Norway UGC Catalogue Gets More Than Just Engagement

Your customers are your greatest source for marketing images and material.

In addition to testing control groups and A/B testing copy, you can easily see how your customers actually photograph, use, and feel about your products.

IKEA Norway did this brilliantly with a campaign that took an iconic brand symbol – their catalogue – and integrated it as the center of a UGC campaign.

IKEA Norway asked their customers to take photos of their favorite products and to post the photos on Instagram.

People participated for a chance to win free products, but IKEA was the big winner, ending up with a “digital catalogue” created by their customers.

Another example of a fantastic Instagram photo contest, IKEA knew how to create a call to action that invited audience participation to create an Instagram shop for virtual window shoppers.

In the end, users Instagrammed every single IKEA Norway item. Not only could IKEA see which products their customers loved the most, but they also got content to use in future marketing materials.

Ask customers to re-imagine iconic brand symbols

Starbucks #WhiteCupContest Shows How to Do It Right

Starbucks did a fantastic job with their White Cup Contest, where they asked customers to get creative and put their own designs on cups. Customers participated for a chance to have their design printed on a limited edition Starbucks reusable plastic cup.

Starbucks #WhiteCupContest created great user generated content on Instagram

Using the white cup as a canvas brought their brand into the picture while inspiring creativity from their customers.

Your campaign should begin with a simple premise: what symbol of your brand can you re-imagine with the help of our customers?

This is one of the most important elements of a successful UGC campaign on social media – think of an icon that people associate with your company, and see how you can ask customers to use their creativity to integrate it in some way.

The reason this is so successful is because it naturally gets you more exposure as people share their designs with their social networks – it goes further than a hashtag because it has the visual element of your brand built in.

Mix in Some Holiday Cheer for Best Results: 

Starbucks also ran a holiday version of this campaign, the Red Cup Contest, using their seasonal red cups as a base for customer designs.

Starbucks' #RedCupContest Instagram campaign

(Joshua Trujillo, Starbucks)

One of the best ways to create more buzz around your campaign and to collect even more content is to time it to coincide with a popular holiday.

Think about how you can modify user-generated content campaigns you’ve run in the past to focus on holidays important to your business. This allows you to get even more mileage out of your most successful campaigns.

Conclusion: Lessons from Top UGC Instagram Campaigns

In summary, here’s what we learned from top brands about how to build the most successful Instagram campaigns:

  1. Skyrocket your consumer engagement strategy by creating a contest people want to talk about.
  2. Make the participation barrier lower and let customers use content they already have.
  3. Go beyond just collecting UGC – leverage it across marketing materials.
  4. Use classic brand symbols to spread your branding wherever your contest goes.