Ah, Doritos. Who doesn’t love these yummy, crunchy chips? You can get them in nearly any imaginable flavor, like Mediterranean Roast Chicken and Colossal Chargrilled Steak. They’re addictive as heck, too. Pop one into your mouth, and pretty soon, the whole bag is gone.

The brand also offers one of the best UGC content examples I’ve ever seen. From 2006 to 2016, Doritos asked fans to make their own commercials featuring their favorite chips.

That’s silly, you might think. Why would anyone spend their time and money creating a commercial for a company with a billion-dollar ad budget? What’s the payoff?

How about this: The winner got the privilege of having their commercial aired during the Super Bowl. Yes, you read right! For aspiring filmmakers, could there be any higher honor?

Rodney Warner

connective icon

User Generated Content

Listen to Rodney talk about UGC in advertising.

Watch Video

Thousands of people went wild over this challenge, and they submitted some pretty incredible stuff for the competition. The lucky winner got bragging rights and an impressive achievement for their resume, while Doritos got free advertising. It was a total win-win.

How would your brand like to take advantage of the user-generated content trend, too? It’s definitely a smart move.

But Rodney, you’re probably thinking, where am I supposed to start? I’m not Doritos. Why would a bunch of people want to make content for a small fry like me?

I’m here to tell you exactly why. And, on top of that, I’m going to give you some stunning examples of user-generated content (go ahead and steal these ideas for your own brand; I won’t tell). You’ll also learn how to get your user-generated content project off the ground even if you have no idea what you’re doing (yet).

So, what are you waiting for? Let’s dive in.

Why Is User-Generated Content So Awesome?

What makes UGC content so appealing to the average Joe? Why do people seem to respond to it better than they do commercials from big-name companies?

There are three reasons: it’s relatable, it humanizes a brand, and it’s just plain exciting. Of course, UGC has plenty of benefits for your brand, too, which I’ll dive into below.

It’s Ultra-Relatable

Which would you respond to better: a dry commercial that spouts off the benefits of a product in a monotone voice or an ad that shows some guy actually using the product and loving it?

Let’s face it: People are just plain sick of advertising. They see it everywhere, and they’re tired of companies selling to them all the time. Plus, most commercials are flat-out boring.

We love UGC because it’s made by people just like us, not some pencil-pushing advertising department. Such content shows people using and enjoying a product in the same way that they do.

For instance, one UGC Doritos ad showed a typical-looking guy munching on Doritos, slouched on his couch with a baby in his arms. How many of us can relate to a scenario like that? It’s not terribly wow-worthy or special, but it sure is relatable.

It Humanizes Your Brand


In a vacuum, many products don’t seem very interesting. Who gets excited over t-shirts, baby wipes, and toasters? They’ve got a job to do, and that’s pretty much it.

If you’ve got a mundane product like that, how do you drum up interest? Sure, people will buy your t-shirts once they’ve worn out their old ones, but how can you make them really care about your brand?

With UGC content and a touch of humanity, of course.

Here’s an example. Loews Hotels wanted to add some authenticity to its marketing materials and invited guests to take pictures of themselves enjoying their stay. In return, it would post the best ones in its advertising.

Guests took photos of themselves feasting on room service, chilling by the pool, and watching TV while lounging on a big, fluffy bed. Instead of sterile images of an empty hotel room, these pictures showed snapshots of people living their best lives. They were real. Authentic. Truly human.

Here’s another one. Furniture brand Article decided its product pages needed more humanity. It prompted customers to send pictures of its furniture set up in their homes. Thanks to such pictures, potential buyers could easily visualize how that new couch or loveseat would fit into their own lives.

It’s Freakin’ Exciting

You’re watching TV, and yet another commercial comes on. Yawn. Time to change the channel.

But something about this one grabs you. Maybe it’s weird, surprising, or funny. It tells a story. What happens next? You watch, transfixed. And before you know it, you’re thinking, “Man, I’ve got to buy that thing.”

If you want to excite users, UGC does this in spades. It doesn’t even have to be a commercial to work its magic.

For instance, LEGO Ideas is a really cool program that allows fans to upload their design for a new build. If a design gets enough support, LEGO might turn it into a real-life kit. For LEGO lovers, what could be more exciting than seeing their very own design brought to life?

And who could forget Coca-Cola’s “Share a Coke” campaign? In 2011, Coca-Cola got the idea to print a bunch of common names on random bottles of Coke, prompting fans to share a Coke with someone they loved.

The brand’s plan worked incredibly well. Soon, people in more than 80 countries were snapping pictures of themselves holding “their” bottles of Coke and posting them all over social media.

As you can see, something as simple as personalization is enough to get people excited about your brand.

It Does the Hard Work for You


If you’ve been in business for very long, you’re probably aware of how tough it is to make a good ad campaign. You need ideas, and not just anything will do. They’ve got to be good. Real winners.

Well, what do you do if you’re idea-challenged? Ask the masses to help you out, naturally.

People come from all walks of life, and they couldn’t be more different. That’s the beauty of UGC. You get ideas from all sorts of people. Some of those ideas won’t be great, but a few of them will be downright genius.

Let’s say you have a prompt like, “Write a short story, and if it’s any good, I’ll post it on my social media channels.” What kind of response might you get from:

  • An eight-year-old girl from Chicago?
  • A 40-year-old doctor from India?
  • A 25-year-old single mom from Texas?

All of these people have wildly different lives, so you’re going to get a staggering variety of responses.

UGC is perfect if you’re not very creative (or if you’re simply lazy). You can let other folks come up with the content while you focus on other stuff, like talking to clients or selling your products.

It’s 100% Free

Many small businesses and startup brands run into trouble with advertising because it can get incredibly expensive. Say you post a bunch of PPC ads on Google, and you get a lot of clicks but barely any buyers. You’ve spent a few hundred bucks with nothing to show for it.

Or maybe you decide to pay for a commercial. You spend a couple thousand for this, and when the ad runs, you get nothing but crickets.

Spending money on ads that don’t work is a quick path to financial ruin. So, if your ads aren’t working, stop running them! Give UGC a shot instead.

UGC is awesome because it’s totally free. If you have a tiny budget, this is definitely the marketing method for you.

Look at what Calvin Klein did. The fashion behemoth invited fans to send pictures of themselves wearing the brand’s clothes. It then posted the best ones on social media, and viewers could click on the pictures to buy the look for their own wardrobe.

Calvin Klein probably got a bunch of sales from that, and they didn’t even have to pay expensive professional models to do it.

It Gives You a Peek at What Your Users Love Most

Many brands spend millions of dollars to analyze their customers’ behaviors, preferences, and demographics. You must know these things, say the marketing gods, or else your campaigns are doomed to fail.

But why spend that much when you can get customers to tell you about themselves for free?

Let’s say you sell sweatshirts, and you ask customers to send pictures of themselves wearing your clothes. These pictures might:

  • Tell you which designs customers like the most
  • Give you ideas for new products
  • Show you the average age and gender of your customers
  • Show you where most of your customers live (urban, rural, etc.)

This is a total goldmine! You don’t have to pay for an expensive customer persona analysis. Just run a UGC campaign, and your customers will tell you everything you want to know.

Killer Examples of User-Generated Content

I’m sure you could use a bit of user-generated content inspiration. To help you out, I’ve stockpiled the best UGC content examples I know of.

Jones Soda

Jones Soda is a step above your average can of carbonated water. Their soda comes in wacky flavors like Blue Bubblegum, Fufu Berry, and Orange & Cream. Plus, each bottle of soda depicts a thought-provoking image (their Green Apple flavor features a goat wearing a sign that says, “Beware of Dog.”)

Needless to say, the brand has built quite a following, and it decided to take advantage of that by running a UGC campaign.

Jones Soda held a contest that asked fans to send their best pictures for the chance to have them featured on a bottle of the fizzy stuff. And boy, did they answer the call.



In 2014, loungewear and intimate apparel brand Aerie announced that it would no longer touch up the models in its photos. This was the start of its #AerieREAL campaign, which then prompted users to send photos of themselves wearing the brand’s clothing.

Fans flooded social media with pictures and the #AerieREAL hashtag. They loved it because the campaign was all about authenticity.

That makes sense because people are sick of seeing touched-up, fake-looking models in advertisements. They wanted something honest, and #AerieREAL delivered.

American Express


How many times have you wanted to write a blog post, only to end up staring at a blinking cursor for far too long?

If you’re lost when it comes to ideas, do what American Express did. In its OPEN Forum, users can post blogs and articles related to finance topics, such as money management and selling products online.

American Express wins because it doesn’t have to hire writers or write these articles itself. Plus, it gets an in-depth look at the topics that matter most to its customers.


If you’re the adventurous sort, you might already be a GoPro fan. Beloved by thrill seekers worldwide, this brand is known for its high-quality, rugged photography gear that’s tough enough to go almost anywhere.

GoPro invites fans to share their favorite photos on its social media channels and website. Plus, the company ran a contest offering $1 million to the user with the very best picture.

What’s the lesson here? If people can get really excited about your brand, they’ll happily do your marketing for you.

National Geographic


National Geographic is known for its stunning photography. Naturally, it has loads of fans, so when the brand launched its #wanderlustcontest, those fans responded in droves.

National Geographic asked folks to share their finest travel photos on social media. In return, one lucky winner would get a free expedition to Yosemite National Park. Before long, its channels were packed with absolutely breathtaking images from people like you and me.



Starbucks is a wonderful example of UGC done right. As part of its commitment to diversity, it launched the #WhatsYourName campaign, which invited people to share stories related to their chosen names. This campaign was a big hit with the LGBTQ community.

In 2014, the brand invited fans to design their own Starbucks cup in the famous White Cup Contest. In just three weeks, the contest received more than 4,000 responses.

This contest was a winner because:

  • It showcased Starbucks’ commitment to sustainability.
  • It boosted the brand’s visibility.
  • It turned customers into brand advocates.

If you’ve got a product that lends itself to customization, try running a similar contest and watch the responses roll in.


Some of us aren’t the best cooks, and that’s where HelloFresh comes in. This brand makes cooking easy by sending customers prepared meal kits and easy-to-follow recipe cards. No fussing over what to cook, and no grocery shopping. Awesome, right?

Its fans sure think so. In fact, they love HelloFresh so much that they happily post their own recipes on the brand’s social media. These posts get a ton of views and drum up loads of publicity for HelloFresh.

Northumbria University

If you run a college, how can you convince prospective students to choose your college over all the others out there?

To drum up interest in its programs, Northumbria University invites students and faculty to share pictures of themselves enjoying life on campus. These “day in the life” photos give users an idea of what the Northumbria University experience is all about.

Red Bull


How many of us have chugged a can of Red Bull during a study session or after a long day at work? This brand is known for its sense of adventure and excitement. That’s why its slogan is “Red Bull Gives You Wings.”

Red Bull invites fans to share their adventures and extreme sports experiences on its social media channels. If you head there, you might see photos of people surfing, pulling off wild skateboarding stunts, and skydiving.


T-Mobile knows a ton of people are afraid to leave their current cell phone carrier because of expensive fees. To help ease the transition, it prompted users to write “break-up letters” explaining why they wanted to leave their current carriers. In return, it promised to pay cancellation fees if users switched to T-Mobile.

The campaign worked amazingly well. It generated more than 113,000 responses and a whopping 67 million social media impressions.

How To Get Started With User-Generated Content

So, these UGC content examples have inspired you, and now you want to catch this lightning in a bottle for your own brand. Try these UGC content strategies.

Create a Repository for User Content

Do you have a central repository for UGC content campaigns yet? If not, you need to make one.

Without a repository, users won’t know where to post content. If they’re confused, they might not post anything at all.

The type of repository to set up depends on your brand. Examples include:

  • Social media pages
  • Product review pages
  • A testimonial page on your website

Define Your Goals

It’s best to have a goal in mind before soliciting UGC content ideas. Goals you may want to shoot for include:

  • Building a community
  • Collecting customer feedback
  • Increasing conversions and sales
  • Improving brand awareness

Determine What Type of Content You Want

Before you can run a UGC campaign, you’ll have to decide what type(s) of content you’re looking for. Again, this depends on your brand, its products, and your goals.

You could ask for:

  • Pictures of customers using or wearing your products
  • Customer reviews
  • Stories about how customers use your products
  • User-submitted designs

Pick the Right Platform

All social media channels are not equal. Depending on your brand and goals, some will work better for you than others. Here’s a quick primer on what a few channels are best for:

  • YouTube: Great for user-generated story videos, instructional content, and product reviews
  • TikTok: Ideal for short-form content (great if your audience has a spotty attention span)
  • X (formerly Twitter): A good choice for quick conversations, challenges, and contests
  • Facebook: Ideal for long-form posts and photos
  • Instagram: One of the best channels for UGC photos and videos

Choose a Reward

You don’t necessarily need to have a reward to get started with UGC, but it definitely helps. In many of the UGC content examples above, brands enjoyed a stellar response to their campaigns simply because they offered a must-have reward or prize.

Examples of good rewards include:

  • Gift cards
  • Discounts on your products
  • Free items
  • Tickets to a concert, movie, or some other appealing event

Make It Easy for Users To Share

Don’t ask users to jump through hoops for you. They might happily do that if you’re a big brand like Starbucks or GoPro, but right now, I’m assuming that you’re a little fish in a very large pond.

You have to make submitting user-generated content as easy as possible. To do that:

  • Be clear with your ask. Don’t just tell users to post whatever they feel like. If you want pictures or reviews, ask for them.
  • Create a shareable, memorable hashtag. For instance, if you’re running a contest, you might choose a hashtag like #FlyFreeContest or #LifeChangingGiveaway.
  • Have a clear call to action. Don’t make users guess what to do next; tell them.

Moderate Your UGC

UGC is kind of like the Wild West. Some people might sit peacefully in the saloon and drink their beer, while others start brawls in the town square.

When you invite UGC, all sorts of things can happen. Users might post profanity-laden stories or offensive pictures. They may get into fights with other users.

You can’t allow this, as it creates a miserable experience for everyone. Tell your users that you won’t tolerate such nonsense, and if you see posts that violate your policy, remove them promptly.

Get Started on Your UGC Journey Today

I hope you’ve learned something from these UGC content examples. If you’re itching to start your own UGC campaign, feel free to use these user-generated content showcases as inspiration to guide you.

Running a UGC campaign isn’t always easy, and you might stumble into a few pitfalls along the way. But once you get it right, you can say goodbye to your traditional marketing woes.

Rodney Warner

Founder & CEO

As the Founder and CEO, he is the driving force behind the company’s vision, spearheading all sales and overseeing the marketing direction. His role encompasses generating big ideas, managing key accounts, and leading a dedicated team. His journey from a small town in Upstate New York to establishing a successful 7-figure marketing agency exemplifies his commitment to growth and excellence.

Related Articles

Knowledge is Power

Stay in the Know

Stay ahead in the business game – subscribe to get our email newsletter for invaluable insights and expert tips tailored for savvy leaders like you. No spam, ever – promise.

"*" indicates required fields