5 Top Brands Doing UGC on Instagram

What is User generated content?

In today’s competitive world, if brands don’t cater to customer preferences, they’ll just scoff at the disconnect and move to other brands to fulfill their needs. In order to continually stay updated with ever-changing marketing trends, brands are finding different ways to spin their social content into pure gold and opting for UGC content which is essentially types of content that are willingly produced and published by users on various platforms. For several brands, UGC Instagram is a priority. UGC usually refers to videos, reviews, comments, forums, or a social media update and is the act of promoting a brand by users/customers of the brand, it’s basically a vote of confidence. According to a survey conducted by Brightlocal in 2013, 73% of customers perceive ads to be highly exaggerated to influence buyer decisions. Meaning customers are becoming reluctant when making a purchase decision based on the ads. UGC is one of the most authentic, reliable, and trustworthy content that pushes customer advocacy.

According to a report, almost a staggering 90% of customers agreed that their purchase decisions are influenced by UGC because user-generated content is unbiased. So, what can UGC do for your business? Bring more traffic, engagement, awareness, leads, and sales. More often than not, it’s social proof of how delighted a customer is. Customers who share their positive experiences about your brand with others prove to be the source for getting more customers. UGC is an effective strategy because potential customers get an opportunity to know your business through already existing customers reinforcing brand credibility. By turning customers into billboards and letting their social feed serve as an online shopping window, UGC is influencing buyers like never before.

Benefits of UGC (User Generated Content):

  • In today’s times, there’s no better way to build an emotional connection with your customers than through UGC. Don’t you agree that your existing customers are your best marketing firepower? Social content is one of the best ways to open the lines of communication between you and your customers.
  • UGC involves sourcing, annotating, and sharing useful content curated by your followers and hence it creates brand awareness, establishes credibility, streamlines lead nurturing, boosts social media metrics, and activates lead generation.
  • Gain user insights by analyzing the content generated by your audience, this will help you better understand your customers and provide a personalized customer experience.
  • As compared to branded content, UGC leads to a higher rate of conversions along with engagement. Think of positive UGC as an endorsement. Potential customers are far more likely to trust your existing customers’ endorsement of your brand than they are to trust the content generated by you through ads. User-generated content humanizes your brand to make it seem relatable and accessible.

Did you know that 47% of top brands rely extensively on user generated content for their marketing efforts (Forrester)? UGC can effectively bring a new level of authenticity to companies, showcasing the human side of your brand while building engaged communities around products and services.

With ubiquitously available reviews for nearly every product and experience out there, consumers rely on peer feedback now more than ever. We’re more likely to base our purchasing decisions on recommendations from family, friends, and acquaintances, which is where the psychology of UGC comes in.

Given the barrage of media, that’s seemingly always present, overly branded content can become white noise that consumers scroll past without a second thought. Real content provided by actual consumers boosts both credibility and the reach of brands. Are you doing enough for your user generated content strategy? Here are a few companies leading the way with their uses of UGC on social media:

Examples of UGC on Instagram


Starbucks UGCIt all started in April 2014 with the #WhiteCupContest, when Starbucks asked its customers to submit their doodled white cup works of art – incentivized with the chance to win a $300 gift card as well as their design immortalized on a limited-edition Starbucks tumbler. Generating 4000+ entries in a single week, Starbucks closed the gap between online and offline with this handmade design campaign – resulting in a new product, a cup that could be purchased in-store. UGC doesn’t always have to come in the form of a contest, but when the incentive is right, these marketing pushes can quickly become viral and largely successful.

Now, Starbucks has turned this crowdsource campaign success into an annual tradition of running various UGC Instagram campaigns around their red holiday cup. From #RedCupArt in 2016 to #GiveGood in 2017, Starbucks taps into the holiday spirit each year, encouraging customers to submit thousands of photo entries; all involving their iconic red holiday cup. This UGC campaign is naturally, but not overtly, sales-driven. What do customers need in order to participate? A red Starbucks cup. How do they get the cup? By making a purchase.

Encouraging customers to include your product in their own content, tagging your brand, and using a campaign hashtag are commonalities for many of the most successful UGC campaigns. In addition to delivering on these basics, Starbucks’ UGC campaigns are easy to join, inspire creativity, and directly relate to their product.

UGC on InstagramGoPro

GoPro is so well-known for its effective UGC social strategies. Loyal customers upload their best photo and video content with the timeless hashtag #GoPro. GoPro owners have the ability to be high-quality content creators, and the culture around sharing content with this hashtag provides value by automatically turning customers into brand advocates. Through this simple yet evergreen campaign, GoPro has created an efficient UGC pipeline that continuously drives viral engagement around its cameras and product capabilities.

GoPro’s Photo of the Day Instagram campaign may be on the nose, considering the fact that they’re an action sports camera company, but it’s nonetheless compelling. Their customers would likely be posting their GoPro photos and videos anyways – but the Photo of the Day campaign incentivizes creators to both tag and engage with GoPro on Instagram. It also encourages customers to post their content more frequently, since GoPro chooses their favorite customer photo to feature on their own social profiles daily.

However, GoPro doesn’t let the UGC engagement stop there. GoPro posts each Photo of the Day to their GoPro Award page, where customers can vote for their favorite photos and videos for larger awards.

Through their own value creation and campaign consistency, GoPro has successfully created a culture around their brand that inspires a steady stream of compelling UGC.

Adobe UGCAdobe

Adobe is another company that does an excellent job in creating various engaging campaigns throughout the year. As a creative company whose design software comes with a higher barrier-to-entry and learning curve, the UGC that comes out of their campaigns provides important value on numerous levels; as user testimonials, product demonstrations, and expert endorsements. But the art that comes out of Photoshop, for example, can be exceptional.

The most notable and consistent of their UGC efforts come with the established hashtag #Adobe_Perspective. Artists and content creators who use Adobe Suite creative software not only use #Adobe_Perspective to share their own content, but also to find inspiration and even source work from other users. On a larger scale, the hashtag collection inspires potential Adobe customers by providing visual examples of what they could make with the software.

Through seasonal and monthly campaigns, Adobe has also used UGC to display its values as a company. For June Pride Month, they pushed the hashtag #Adobe_InColor for their audiences to post creative works in support of the LGBTQ community.

Ultimately, Adobe shares UGC to build community, both supporting and shouting out all the creatives using their software.

IBM's UGC Strategy
IBM has inspired a B2B component to UGC. Companies submit how IBM has helped them grow.


For a brand that isn’t the easiest to aesthetically display value, IBM does a great job at showing the human side of their brand. Rather than focusing on product photography or advertisements for IBM offerings, they utilize content from their customers, employees, and community members to show the value behind its uses. Furthermore, such UGC associates IBM products with a feeling of like-minded community, showcasing their company culture and values as well as those of their consumers.

IBM’s success with UGC is interesting, as they take a more passive approach in that they don’t typically ask their followers to share content. They do, however, make an effort to share user-generated content consistently, which prompts other IBM customers to share their photos related to the brand. As a B2B company, in addition to B2C, having your photo re-posted to IBM’s highly-targeted 260K+ Instagram followers is a great incentive in and of itself.

Airbnb Visual CommerceAirbnb

Airbnb is one of the shining examples of brands using Instagram in terms of UGC – and a big reason is that they understand their audience. Millennials have flocked to Instagram, often taking a particular interest in travel and experiential photos – so Airbnb gives the people what they want.

Approximately 75% of Airbnb’s Instagram content is user-generated. In addition to displaying shared photos of some of their most aesthetically-pleasing and wanderlust-worthy properties around the world, Airbnb largely focuses their Instagram feed around its #AirbnbExperiences offerings. Plus, they do it in an inclusive manner.

Though high-adrenaline activities can often provide the most exciting photos, Airbnb finds a great balance in sharing experiences of all kinds, for all types of travelers. They also effectively utilize their caption space, highlighting the experience host(s) and creating a personal tie by providing the story behind the picture.

Effective UGC Strategies

The common denominator for all the aforementioned brands is that they took the time to understand their audience and curate UGC campaigns that are engaging and personalized, build community, easy to participate in, and directly related to their product offerings.

Annex Cloud’s Visual Commerce platform creates channels that companies can use to collect and optimally utilize the pictures customers are taking. Visual Commerce is also fully customizable, allowing brands to have a hand in influencing the creation of UGC and encourage customers to share more.

Fellow consumer feedback is more important than ever before, so our ratings and reviews platform provides an easy solution for companies to collect and display trustworthy reviews of their products. Easily providing companies with on-page review aggregation and capabilities, Ratings and Reviews dramatically increases conversion by helping customers have a sound mind with their purchasing decisions.

However, sometimes customers have questions not addressed on a product’s page or in reviews, which is where Q&A is important. Questions and Answers provides a way for customers to see previously answered questions as well as ask questions of their own, all without leaving the page.

Have questions about how to better leverage your user-generated content? Talk to us. Our UGC platform will not only help you receive 70% more content, but it’ll also build a more loyal community online. Contact us for a free demo today!

[White Paper]
[White Paper]