5 Best Social Media Campaigns with User-Generated Content

Ten years ago, the major advertisers had big budgets they spent on both media buying and the creation of content. Not only did it cost a huge amount to produce a commercial, you had to buy the air-time for it on television.

However, since the rise of #digital media, the internet and successful online social networks, the way in which brands and businesses advertise and market themselves has changed significantly. Instead of concentrating dollars on a smaller number of campaigns, brands have become content-producing power houses – continuously finding new ways to produce more and more content, which they can then post for “free” online in hopes of it being shared among networks and maybe even going viral. (Read more about this shift in Cliff Torng’s blog post “Content Driven Social Marketing: Time to Make the Digital Donuts”).

A big component of this new media landscape is user-generated content, which can be anything from Yelp reviews to crowd-sourced photos and videos for campaigns. In this post, we’ll focus on the later and show examples of brands who have rolled out successful #social mediabased campaigns that solicited and used user-generated content.

According to a #HubSpot article, more than 8 in 10 Gen Yers (whose purchasing power will eclipse Baby Boomers by 2017), say user-generated content from people they don’t know influences way they buy and indicates brand quality. Soliciting and marketing with user-generated is also a great way to boost engagement and get people talking about and advocating for your brand online.


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Dunkin Donuts Coolatta Campaign

Dunkin’ Donuts came up with an engaging campaign to promote the launch of their #Coolatta beverages. Dunkin’ Donuts encouraged their #Facebookfans to upload a photo of themselves with a Coolatta beverage. By doing, they would be automatically entered into a daily giveaway.

The relatively low cost campaign built up their social network following, increased brand & product recognition with the mass of Coolatta-related images flying around the web, and obviously also increased brand and product awareness for their new Coolata beverage.

Although these kinds of campaigns certainly aren’t rare nowadays, this was one of the first of it’s kind, giving them extra points for creativity and landing them on this list.


The Best Job in the World

Much like most people can tell you exactly where they were when they heard major news events, I can tell you exactly what I was doing when I first stumbled across the brilliant Best Job in the World Campaign back in 2009.

The amazingly viral, and at the time, inventive, publicity stunt offered a ‘job’ as an island caretaker in the #Great Barrier Reefwith a salary of AUD $150,000 for a six-month stint. It helped that the campaign was rolled out in January, where people in many parts of the Northern Hemisphere were in the depths of winter (making those Australian Beaches seem that much more appealing).

The campaign went insanely viral and solicited 34,000 user-submitted videos and applications total. The entire campaign was user generated and encouraged engagement. A shortlist was created from the 34,00 submissions, and then a wildcard candidate was crowdsourced. It was an inexpensive, clever idea that ended up being incredible successful, viral campaign with a huge ROI.


Iceland wants to be your friend

#Iceland launched a unique social media campaign last year in an effort to bring more tourists to the country. However, instead of rolling out a safe and predictable campaign with pretty photos of #volcanoes and #waterfalls on their website, the Iceland Tourism Board and agency Takk Takkdecided to do something different – they invite the online world to become “friends” with Iceland.

Takk Takk established a presence across multiple social platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Vimeo, a blog, Tumblr) and the country refers to itself in the third-person, an authentic voice that’s charming, direct, inviting and clear. This voice is consistent in all its communications, imagery, music and messaging.

According to the Takk Takk website, user-generated content fueled the campaign:

The number of brilliant, high-quality videos made by the incredibly talented people visiting Iceland and posted online is astounding — and needless to say, would cost the Icelandic Tourist Board an enormous amount of money to produce. So instead of trying to top the good things we come across, we simply gather them in one place for more people to see, frequently posting them to the project’s other channels. In this way, Iceland Wants to Be Your Friend has become a kind of platform for great “user-generated content.”


Jump To The Beat – Hotelsbycity.net

Back in 2009, when user-generated social media campaigns were first getting popular, HotelsByCity.net launched an online campaign encouraging users to submit photos of themselves jumping on hotel beds was an instant internet hit and even got picked up by mainstream media.

The premise was simple – go to a hotel; have someone take your picture as you jump mid-air onto the bed; post it to the website titled BedJump.

Some hotels even picked up on the campaign themselves, holding events and special offers to promote the craze.



A 2011 report from Covario ranked #Coca-Colaas the No. 1 global brand in terms of social media marketing due to its massive brand outreach and visibility.

The key to Coke’s aggressive social marketing campaigns appear more like stories than marketing messages. The campaign also features user-generated content from “Dusty and Mike,” two Coca-Cola fans who encourage the company’s social followers to share content through Facebook or any other social platform, including Twitter and photo-sharing service Flickr.

According to social media marketing agency, Brafton, Coke generated a great deal of social buzz by allowing customers to share their compelling content, and now it is recognized as top in terms of social campaigns.

Coca-Cola’s strength in social media marketing has been in part due to their focus on encouraging fans to contribute content to the social media campaigns, thus increasing and encouraging engagement.

“Reach and engagement are particularly revealing,” Craig Macdonald, senior vice president and chief marketing officer of Covario, said in a release. “Several advertisers – Bayer and SC Johnson – have built followers, but their engagement statistics are relatively low. This is a huge branding opportunity for the firms.”

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