There have been some top-notch user-generated content campaigns over the course of 2015, and each of them gives great insight into how brands can engage with customers and effectively communicate their marketing messages.

But while they serve as great inspiration, we reckon there’s a few ways 2016’s UGC campaigns could be even better.

Three’s #HolidaySpam

The #HolidaySpam campaign from mobile provider Three encouraged customers to upload photos of their foreign adventures to Twitter and Instagram over the Three network.

The idea was to engage customers in a playful and creative way, whilst highlighting to their friends the company’s ‘no extra charge’ policies for network usage in various locations across the world. As an added incentive, customers using the hashtag #HolidaySpam were given the chance to win an amazing holiday.

The most clever part of this campaign was the play on perceived frustration and envy social media users feel when bombarded with the holiday photos of their connections, thus placing the Three network as something to be sought-after.

The key lesson here is that people love to boast on social media, so make use of this if you can! See details on Three’s campaign in this video:

We’d suggest:
For those looking to replicate, using a competition to incentivise people to create and share content may not be the most effective way to do it.

People tend to share what they think will win them a competition – which makes it difficult to sustain a constant flow of authentic content.

In fact, you can put away the prizes altogether – recent research from FlyResearch showed that for over 50% of people the biggest motivator for sharing about their product, service or brand experience was to help others. Only 20% said they said they would be most motivated if there was a prize to be won. Our experience really supports this research – we find that if you speak to people in the right way, you’ll be amazed at what they are willing to share.

Costa’s #ShakeUpSummer

Alongside the introduction of its new range of iced coffees Costa launched its #ShakeUpSummer campaign encouraging customers to ‘show-off their shake’ by posting a video on its Instagram account, in the hope of encouraging discussion around its new product. The chance of winning a summer-themed bundle of prizes including an iPad Air, designer sunglasses, and headphones proved irresistible.

It was a bold move on the part of Costa to use a video challenge to engage customers, but correctly sensing people’s new-found willingness to ‘broadcast’ to their peers the company saw massive engagement and spread of the brand message. But Costa really deserve top marks for its use of lenticular street advertising which gave the public a visual demonstration of the coffee being ‘shaken up’ and thus lent some extra intrigue to the campaign.

Don’t be afraid to repeat a campaign if it has worked particularly well. - Highlight to share -

It pays to keep close attention to the latest trends in social media, and don’t be afraid to push customers a little bit further than you might think they’re willing to go.

This video shows how staff in one Costa branch encouraged engagement with the campaign:

We’d suggest:
So you’re collecting great content in the hopes of bringing people in store. Why not show the content there as well? It’s what people talk about when they talk about a ‘seamless multichannel journey” or whatever other buzzword you want to throw at it.

Something like this:


Lumia #MakeItHappen

In December 2014, the Microsoft Lumia team gave devices to 31 people from all corners of the globe with the idea that they could use the device to help fulfil a New Year’s resolution that they hadn’t kept. Under the hashtag #MakeItHappen, the device recipients could document their last-ditch efforts to achieve their goals, encouraging engagement from social network contacts and thus spreading the brand message of Lumia.

The really clever thing is that the Lumia team then carried on the momentum of this campaign by immediately launching a 2015 version of it, asking people to keep sharing things they’d like to ‘make happen’.

The lesson that we discern from this is to ‘smell what sells’ and don’t be afraid to repeat a campaign if it has worked particularly well.

The video below is about someone’s desire to start a new band – and it includes 3D sound recorded on a Lumia phone. A nice touch.

We’d suggest:
The campaign relies heavily on social media – this brings with it certain limitations. Why not take this further and create a community for people to engage with? You can host it on your site, and use the content you collect throughout your marketing. When executed properly this can create greater volumes of relevant content; you have greater control of where the conversation goes; and people can have a more substantial conversion.

Here’s an example from Nissan, around its Leaf electric car: real owners, real questions.


This is a mix between a community and a piece of marketing, with a neat layout of questions about the Leaf. The answers are from Leaf owners – authentic content is very useful for potential buyers.

MINI’s ‘Not Normal’ campaign

We’ve written about this one before – MINI asked consumers to reimagine its cars in unexpected ways, and post an image using the hashtag #mininotnormal.

It’s hard not to be impressed by the results. Within six weeks: 230,000 people engaged with the campaign via social media, 2,217 pieces of consumer content were shared and MINI gained 29,420 new fans and followers (MINI’s Twitter following tripled).

The numbers get even better: 3,853 visitors to the campaign hub went on to look for a new MINI on – 11% of which became qualified dealership leads.

This month MINI USA is running a Photo Challenge, asking fans to submit a photo of their MINI in a city backdrop #MINIandTheCity.

These campaigns are great and absolutely hit on some of the things we love most about UGC; its incredible power to entertain and inspire.

We’d suggest:
It’s great to be inspirational & aspirational, but UGC also has the potential to educate. Here’s a good example from Vauxhall, who has used UGC in a way that educates while still being quite cool and entertaining.

First Direct’s ‘No. Thank You’ Campaign

During the summer of 2015 First Direct launched its ‘No. Thank you’ campaign in which it chose some of the best social media messages of thanks it had received from customers and turned them into enormous banners which it erected around its office.

Of course, it then promptly notified the customers concerned, who dutifully spread the news far and wide along with the video reactions of staff.

It was an incredibly interesting and unique use of user engagement and the videos created almost became collaborative efforts between First Direct and its customers.

The whole thing was masterfully executed – and not only did it bridge the gap between the business’s ‘online’ and ‘real’ presence, but the campaign also managed to humanise the relationship which the company has with its customers and present this ‘human’ side to a wide range of potential customers.

We’d suggest: We think it’s really important to build a culture of valuing feedback internally. Things like this help employees live the ‘customer first’ attitude rather than it just being for show.

HP’s #BendTheRules Campaign

The #BendTheRules Campaign has been running throughout the year and challenges users of the HP Pavilion X360 to share creative image and video content demonstrating the laptop’s distinctive screen, which ‘bends’ 360 degrees on its axis. There is also the opportunity for participants to win a range of HP gifts.

The campaign is clearly targeted at the tech-savvy millennial market and gives them free reign with the creative process, allowing them to show off their skills and creativity, whilst also spreading the brand message to their impressionable peers.

Some would argue that much of the campaign’s success is down to a plethora of celebrity endorsements, but that’s only part of the story. HP has also successfully manipulated the willingness and ability of the 18 – 30 demographic to spend large amounts of time creating high-quality and shareable video content.

Check out the vines under the #BendTheRules campaign.

We’d suggest: For those who don’t have a load of celebrity friends to call on, there are still lots of ways to create interest. Having customers ask each other for something may be a really effective way to do this.

In fact, a recent FlyResearch survey found that people were far more likely to share if asked by another customer vs. if they were asked by a company directly.

TOMS #WithoutShoes Instagram Campaign

In the spring of 2015, online retailer and social impact enterprise TOMS launched its #WithoutShoes campaign, which quite simply asked users to post pictures of their bare feet on Instagram alongside the hashtag #WithoutShoes. For every photo uploaded TOMS would donate one pair of shoes to a child in need.

Although this may appear a rather simple campaign, it was in actual fact a stroke of genius. TOMS leveraged an existing Instagram trend (images looking down at users’ feet) and used it to reaffirm and revitalise its long-standing social impact brand message. Many marketers have tried and failed to implement similar campaigns using existing trends, but none has ever succeeded so masterfully as this.

We’d suggest:

This campaign shows how effective it is to collect targeted specific content. If your brand’s not quite as trendy as TOMS, don’t worry – you can still collect content around a theme. As we’ve said before:

You might not think your company does the most exciting thing in the world, but what you do means something to your customers. Hit that heart string and you’ll be surprised at what you end up with.

The lesson we can all learn is that user-generated content doesn’t necessarily have to be complicated if the appeal and message of the campaign are strong and clear.

7 of the best UGC campaigns of 2015