The best campaigns from user generated content on Instagram
August 08, 2016 | Shares:

The Best User Generated Content Campaigns on Instagram [Slideshare]
5 min.

Our amazing Marketing Designer Roni Klein is our resident Instagram addict.

She selected her top picks for the best UGC Instagram campaigns and offered her expert tips for how brands can replicate this in their own UGC Instagram campaigns.

Our new Slideshare, “The Best UGC Instagram Campaigns, Picked by Our Head of Design,” summarizes her top reasons why big brands like Nike, Starbucks, and Marc by Marc Jacobs had such wildly successful campaigns and offers strategies so you can do the same.

Check it out below, and then read Roni’s detailed post below on the importance of these UGC Instagram campaigns and more advanced tips for replicating them.


Why UGC Instagram Campaigns Matter for Brands

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

I’m attracted to its simplicity and emphasis on visuals, and many times, I find graphics or ideas I want to save to reference later for my work.

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

More and more brands have understood in the past years that Instagram is a special place for businesses to be, and many are taking steps like designing images and graphics especially to advertise on Instagram.

However, although Instagram provides a great forum for brands, many are still struggling to understand this social eCommerce trend and how to create a marketing strategy that effectively uses Instagram’s benefits and adapts the best Instagram marketing tips to attract customers.

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

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These typically have very high engagement rates while also cementing positive brand associations in customers’ minds.

User generated content Instagram campaigns are even more successful because of the visual nature of the platform and the fact that the Instagram engagement rate is higher than all other channels.

Lessons From The 4 Most Successful Instagram Campaigns

For this post, I handpicked some of the best user generated content Instagram campaigns I’ve seen.

Each of these caught my eye for their excellent use of user-generated content marketing that combines their customers’ content to achieve their business goals.

Here are a few examples of brands that mastered Instagram user-generated content campaigns – along with actionable takeaways to help other brands learn to harness UGC campaigns to attract their 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 was great because it really understood how to get strong audience involvement.

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

The competition was for the chance to be a Marc by Marc Jacobs model and asked their 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.

#CastMeMarc Instagram UGC contest

All the people who got involved were casting from Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag, and the final result made the campaign powerful because they were the first to understand that their users are also contributors, so why not use them?

It was one of the most brilliant Instagram UGC campaigns, demonstrated by its great results.

Customer photo contests attract engagement from participators as well as spectators because people are on Instagram to interact with visual content – while they may not submit, they will still like and share.

You can replicate this in your own UGC campaigns by understanding what motivates your specific audience to come up with a reward great enough that won’t just elicit participation, but will 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 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 gets a huge response.

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?

Think about it:

People are on social to connect to their friends and share their special moments. They’re probably not looking to take photos specifically for a brand’s benefit, but 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.

Make it easy for your customers to participate by inviting them to share content they’ve already created.

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 naturally works as word-of-mouth advertisement, spreading the word to other people to participate. Moreover, it’s fun – you can play with it 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.

Rather than testing control groups and A/B testing copy, why not just see how your customers actually picture, use, and feel about your items?

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

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

People participated for a chance to win free items, but the best result was for IKEA who ended up with a “digital catalog” 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 a winning design printed on a limited edition Starbucks reusable plastic cup.

Starbucks really took UGC to a physical level with this campaign by bringing in a staple of their brand and using that as the basis for the consumer generated media.

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 this in some way.

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

Conclusion: Lessons from Top UGC Instagram Campaigns

In summary, here’s what we learned from top brands about how to build successful Instagram campaigns that get the results that really matter:

  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 branding everywhere your contest is.


You’ve seen the campaigns.

Now are you ready to test your Instagram skills?

Check out the answers here.

Learn how UGC can grow your sales Our ultimate guide teaches secret strategies to turn UGC into salesGet your free copy

Roni Klein
Roni Klein,
Roni Klein is a Marketing Designer at Yotpo. When Roni's not in the studio, you can find her cruising around Tel Aviv on her Vespa or dreaming of next year's Coachella.
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