Blog User-generated content 7 Best UGC Contest Examples to Inspire Your Next Campaign

7 Best UGC Contest Examples to Inspire Your Next Campaign

7 Best UGC Contest Examples to Inspire Your Next Campaign
Joe Tobin
Editor
7 Best UGC Contest Examples to Inspire Your Next Campaign
Joe Tobin
Editor

After bouncing around tech start-ups and university literature programs, Joe has finally settled down as Billo’s Head of Content. Joe now spends his days writing ads about ads, teaching clients how to craft killer content, and combing through our web copy with a bold red Sharpie.

Tom Slipkus
Tom Slipkus
Writer
Tom Slipkus
Tom Slipkus
Writer

Tom Slipkus is an email strategist helping SaaS companies onboard users, reduce churn, and drive sales in the process. When he’s not digging through customer research or coming up with the perfect subject line, Tom also pens insightful articles about marketing and building lasting relationships with customers.

ugc contents

User-generated content can boost engagement 6.9 times compared to brand-generated posts. And for 79% of consumers, UGC can have a deciding impact on whether they buy or not.

The problem is, figuring out how to get user-generated content organically isn’t easy. Creating engaging posts and videos takes time and effort, so simply asking your customers to participate won’t always work.

Enter UGC contests.

They can provide the necessary incentive and get your audience excited to participate. All while growing your social media presence, engaging your audience, and driving sales in the process.

But how do UGC contests work? Why are they effective? And what are some examples of successful brand contests?

We’ll cover all of that (and more) in this comprehensive guide.

What is a UGC Contest?

A UGC contest, also known as a UGC hashtag contest, is a brand-run competition that encourages people to post their own content on social media with a particular hashtag following a specific format. In most UGC contests, the incentive is the chance to win a prize.

For example, a brand may ask customers to post themselves using the product or wearing brand clothes, with selected users receiving prizes such as products or discounts.

Because UGC contests are very flexible, they can be used by the vast majority of brands that have a social media presence. By tweaking the goals, incentives, and criteria for participation, you can get a huge influx of user-generated content around your brand on social media.

Why Should You Use UGC Contests?

Brand contests have been around for a long time. But UGC contests offer a whole new level of opportunities for leveraging social media to grow your audience, boost sales, and get your brand noticed.

Here are just a few of the many benefits UGC can offer your business.

Reach

Getting your brand and products in front of new people can be expensive. But when you take advantage of the built-in virality of your audience’s network, you can achieve exponential growth of views for your campaign, bringing in new people into your social media feed and expanding your reach.

For example, if you get even just a few dozen people to create user-generated content around your products and post it on their feed, it can potentially reach thousands of people. Instead of having to rely on paid advertising, you can leverage the social media algorithm that will push your campaign’s posts to the top because of how much engagement they are receiving.

Value

Another benefit of UGC is that it can create a ton of brand-centric, engaging content virtually free of charge. Compared to producing video content around your products and brand on your own, that offers cost-effectiveness that’s impossible to match.

UGC contests will also bring in content from a variety of people, giving you fresh perspectives and different takes on the same idea that might end up revealing new creative paths for branded content in the future.

Authenticity

Making a connection with the prospect is a key part of successful marketing campaigns. But sponsored ads featuring brand messaging can seem inauthentic, which can make breaking through to the people you want to reach a challenge.

Meanwhile, if you can generate UGC through contests, the message your customers share will be seen as much more trustworthy and genuine. Instead of being just another brand trying to sell something, you can get people who love your products to share their experiences and vouch for your brand.

Sales

The ultimate goal of any marketing campaign is sales. UGC contests offer the opportunity to connect the authentic experiences of your current customers with your hottest offers and new product releases.

Since UGC tends to spread on social media organically, you will get your products in front of thousands of people who are likely to be interested. That can lead not just to more followers on your social media pages, but also to clicks you can turn to sales on your website.

UGC Contest Examples

We compiled a comprehensive UGC contest example list, showing how big and small brands achieved excellent results with timely and targeted UGC contests.

Read on to discover the best UGC ideas to use in your campaigns.

1. ASOS: #AsSeenOnMe

asos ugc contest example

Any list of UGC contests needs to include the ASOS #AsSeenOnMe campaign, which has become one of the best Instagram contests’ examples, generating an endless stream of UGC  for ASOS to this day.

The premise behind #AsSeenOnMe is relatively simple: ASOS encourages people to post selfies with apparel purchased at ASOS, which can then appear on the As Seen on Me page on the ASOS website.

But because of how well it was set up and executed, the campaign enhanced the already-strong social media presence of ASOS and allowed the company to tap into a new source of content that propels growth and sales.

Key Takeaways:

  • Over the past decade, millions of people have used the hashtag to share their outfits, turning buyers into influencers who promote the brand and its product.
  • The campaign is still active and generates new content every day, serving as a continuous way to expose new people to the ASOS brand, build a sense of community within the audience, and grow the social media presence in the process.
  • As a bonus, the way that the campaign was designed plays a key role in how new customers shop and the items they pick. When uploading their outfits, people come up with unique and interesting combinations and styles, which act as inspirations for others who want to recreate similar styles on their own.1. Aerie: #AerieREAL

2. Aerie: #AerieREAL

You don’t need to reward your audience with prizes to get them onboard with your UGC contest. The Aerie #AerieREAL campaign shows how some of the best UGC ideas can be based on shared values and the desire to do something good.

The company asked customers to share unretouched photos of themselves wearing Aerie swimsuits, promising to donate $1 to the National Eating Disorders Association for every picture shared.

Predictably, the campaign was a resounding success. So much so that Aerie actually brought back the campaign for multiple years, raising tens of thousands of dollars and getting countless user-generated content examples that helped promote the brand and its positive message.

Key Takeaways:

  • The main idea behind Aerie’s campaign is body positivity. The company asked women to share real and natural photos while tying the request with a donation to the National Eating Disorders Association, with a clear and positive message anyone could get behind.
  • Because of its focus on inclusivity and the donation, customers were comfortable sharing the pictures, as the contest was attached to a good cause that was worth promoting on their feed. It helped Aerie build a community of fans who shared the same values as the company, creating a much stronger bond.
  • That sense of community and an inclusive message was very effective at attracting new customers as well. And having user-generated content together with a powerful message helped attract the right people, who were likely to participate themselves.

3. Chupa Chups: #Chupalloween

chupa chups ugc contest example

You don’t need a global campaign for an effective UGC contest, especially if you choose an interesting theme that taps into the needs of your audience. That’s exactly what happened with the #Chupalloween campaign, which is a great example of using a fun holiday to get a variety of user-generated content around your product in a specific region.

The basic idea behind the Chupa Chups campaign is revealed in the #Chupalloween hashtag. The company ran the campaign during the lockdown, offering the younger generations of Italians a fun Halloween-themed challenge they could do from home.

Key Takeaways:

  • Chupa Chups asked followers to dress up as Halloween characters based on the company’s stickers. Basing the campaign around a fun dress-up holiday like Halloween created an instant viral effect, getting people excited to dress up and make videos since they couldn’t go out and party.
  • To gain initial traction, Chupa Chups utilized a few popular Italian Creators, who created their own outfits and helped Chupa Chups tap into millions of followers, who soon followed suit.
  • In the end, the campaign got almost 300 million views in just five days, with almost 100,000 Creators taking part in the fun and submitting around 242,000 videos. A brand lift study revealed that the campaign helped boost brand awareness by 10% and ad recall by 58%.

4. e.l.f. Cosmetics: #eyeslipsface

The name e.l.f. Cosmetics is short for EyesLipsFace, so the brand decided to lean into that and create a UGC contest asking followers to showcase their makeup looks for a chance to win $250 worth of products from the company.

e.l.f. also partnered with TikTok to create an original branded song for the challenge, which quickly caught on and became a hit on its own. It also played perfectly with the challenge, becoming an instantly recognizable part that made even more people want to participate.

Key Takeaways:

  • #Eyeslipsface is the most viral U.S. campaign in TikTok history, with over 10 billion views at the time of this post, making it one of the best TikTok giveaway examples for brands to follow.
  • The iLL Wayno song Eyes. Lips. Face. (e.l.f.) became a hit beyond the TikTok virality, getting a total of 23 million listens on Spotify and reaching #4 in the U.S. and globally on the Spotify Viral 50 chart.
  • The campaign was so successful that it went beyond TikTok and was featured on Buzzfeed, Forbes, Vox, and countless other publications with millions of readers.

5. Starbucks: #RedCupContest

starbucks ugc context example

A big part of Starbucks’ success comes down to its strong social media presence, so it’s no surprise that the company also knows how to run great UGC contests.

A good example is the #RedCupContest, which asked customers to share photos of their red Starbucks cups for a chance to win $500. The campaign was a huge success, generating hundreds of thousands of likes, thousands of posts, and a ton of user-generated content the company could use to expand its reach and keep the brand on people’s minds during the holidays.

Key Takeaways:

  • This campaign shows that you don’t necessarily have to create a unique challenge or premise. Sometimes, it’s enough to offer a simple cash prize and ask customers to share pictures of your product, allowing them to take over the creative side and showcase your brand in different ways.
  • Another reason why the campaign worked so well was its holiday theme. Getting users to generate content with the Starbucks cups helped form associations with Christmas, allowing the brand to make the red cups part of its yearly holiday promotions.

6. Nissan: #improvisewithJUKE

One of the best ways to get people excited about a new product is to get them involved in its promotion. With the #improvisewithJUKE campaign, Nissan devised an interactive TikTok-led campaign that encouraged participation from the community in a way that’s fun and shareable.

The campaign asked the TikTok community to come up with unique videos with voiceovers and reactions over the JUKE launch video. The best entries would appear as voiceovers for the TV commercial, which quickly generated excitement on the platform, especially after being endorsed and kicked off by influential TikTok Creators.

Key Takeaways:

  • The Nissan JUKE TikTok campaign helped bring more attention to the car’s launch, making the commercial a key part of the campaign and familiarizing millions of people with the new car and its features.
  • People took the voiceover challenge in various directions, creating funny and engaging videos that were shared on their own, which helped spread the message even further.
  • In the end, the campaign generated a whopping 145 million views on TikTok, with over 34,000 video submissions during the campaign. As a result, it increased brand awareness for the Nissan JUKE by 92.9%.

7. Gymshark: #Gymshark66

gymshark ugc contest example

Gymshark is an online sports apparel and technology retailer with a strong emphasis on personal transformation through community and support. Since 2018, they have made that a central theme of their Gymshark66 challenge, motivating followers to make a commitment to their personal growth goals for 66 days.

According to the rules, people have to post their challenge goals on January 1st and then stick to them for at least 66 days, sharing their results on the last day. Being part of a supportive community is a huge motivating factor for participants, and the challenge also ensures that Gymshark gets consistent social media engagement.

Key Takeaways:

  • Besides posting on social media, the Gymshark challenge also urges customers to download the app and track their progress, further ingraining them into the Gymshark ecosystem.
  • Participants are also motivated by a chance to win a year’s supply of Gymshark goods, which adds tangible value and helps keep people motivated and engaged throughout the 66 days of the challenge.
  • The company has built a following of over five million on TikTok and almost seven million on Instagram, and a big part of that success is getting people involved in a positive challenge that keeps them coming back to post updates and share their progress.
  • The hashtag #Gymshark66 has over 326 million views on TikTok and 800 thousand posts on Instagram.

How to Create a UGC Contest

Creating a successful UGC contest doesn’t have to be complicated. As some of the examples above show, you don’t necessarily have to be an international brand to engage your audience and gain traction on social media.

That being said, following a process can help you stay focused and create a campaign that matches your goals and audience.

Here’s a step-by-step process you can follow.

1. Start with the Goal

A UGC contest offers an almost infinite list of possibilities. To narrow down your options, it’s a good idea to start with a clear goal or outcome you want to achieve. Once you know what you want to achieve, different elements of the campaign will start falling into place, helping you utilize your resources more effectively.

The primary purpose of the campaign will usually be to engage your audience and raise brand awareness, but you can also use it to promote a new product, generate leads, emphasize your brand values, grow your following, or even collect feedback.

2. Choose the Right Platform

UGC contests can work well on most social media platforms, but for best results, you should be deliberate about choosing a platform that matches your goals and audience. A good place to start is to evaluate your brand’s social media presence, choosing a platform where you already have a following you could tap into to get initial traction.

At the same time, think about your audience and the platforms they are most likely to use and engage with. The UGC contest could be a great way to establish a stronger presence on a platform you want to prioritize.

3. Develop a Theme

Creating a unified theme for your UGC contest is probably the most challenging part of the entire campaign. Each element must work together and make sense together, including your brand, audience, products, social media platform, and even the time of year.

The theme and concept behind your campaign need an idea that will make it appealing and clear to the people you want to reach. You can tie the theme to your brand’s values, a holiday, a good cause, or your products, but you need to bring it back to your customers, who will be at the center of the campaign.

4. Create a Hashtag

Most social media platforms use hashtags to sort content and highlight trends, so yours needs to be relevant and distinct so that it doesn’t drown in the sea of posts.

Once you have your theme, brainstorm hashtag ideas that contain the main concept while also being catchy enough to be easily remembered and shared. A good starting point is to think about the action you want the people to take, the cause behind the campaign, or the product the contest will revolve around.

5. Incentivize It

UGC contests require effort and time from your followers, so you need to find a way to motivate them to be creative and respond to your request in large numbers. The good news is that it’s not just about the value of the incentive but also about how relevant it is for your audience.

Of course, the most straightforward way to incentivize your UGC contest is to offer a cash prize to the winners. But you may also offer your products, discounts, or even a donation to a worthy cause, as long as it resonates with the group of people you want to reach.

6. Leverage Influencers

The initial traction of your campaign can make a big difference in its ultimate success. If it fizzles out early, it’s unlikely to pick up later, so those initial hours and days should be your main focus.

A good way to ensure that plenty of people see your campaign is to use creators with a following in your niche. You can also leverage your own audience, but it’s still a good idea to utilize professional UGC creators who can show how the challenge works and set up a blueprint that people can follow and build on.

7. Engage Participants

Once the campaign is underway, your followers will drive it forward. But it’s also important to engage with their content by liking it, commenting on posts, and sharing it on your social media feed.

Many brands also choose to create a dedicated page where the best posts are curated and featured, which motivates more people to join while also rewarding those that do with a bigger platform.

The Bottom Line

UGC contests are an accessible option for generating content around your brand and products. Perhaps even more importantly, they can bolster your social media presence and even help you build a sense of community with your best customers.

Whether you want to get people together for a good cause, nurture creativity around your new product launch, or find a way to connect with your followers, UGC contests can help you do all that, and more.

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