Social media is an important way to create connections with an audience. And its even more powerful when your ardent supports create compelling content that highlights your brand. Leading companies are leaning on social media UGC to execute campaigns, grow brand loyalty and ultimately increase sales—here are five campaigns to draw inspiration from.

1. REI’s #OptOutside Campaign

Outdoor recreation retailer REI has been using the #OptOutside hashtag since 2014 to encourage people to head outside to enjoy the outdoors instead of waiting in lines on Black Friday. This campaign has garnered media attention worldwide over the years because REI bucked the trend of consumerism by closing their doors on the most popular shopping day of the year and empowering their employees to enjoy time outdoors.

REI now has an entire brand campaign around their #OptOutside hashtag.

Now, as their website states, “#OptOutside began as a moment that turned into a movement.” It has become part of the company mission and includes:

  • Employee empowerment at REI
  • Reduction of waste throughout the REI supply chain
  • Commitment to fight for life outdoors

This clear understanding of their customers has in turn developed a deeply loyal fan base. Not only has the #OptOutside campaign resulted in a substantial amount of earned media, it also created an incredible user-generated content (UGC) opportunity. Advocates posting to social media with the #OptOutside hashtag are often clad in gear purchased at REI. This creates a tight coupling between REI’s mission, their products and their fans.

2. Trello’s UGC-Focused #WhereITrello 

A fantastic implementation of a UGC campaign comes from the project management software company Trello. The #WhereITrello hashtag encourages customers to show how and where they use the Trello product around the globe.

User photos might feature a manicured workspace, a background with children and pets, an opened laptop on the beach or the more traditional office desk space. Through the UGC, Trello tells a story here about how diverse and varied its users are through their customers’ lens—prospects get to see firsthand how real people are using the product. 

Trello’s Instagram account also features story highlights with “swipe-up” links to blog posts, product templates and a behind-the-curtains look into the life at Trello’s offices. Using Instagram’s highlights feature in this way creates a sort of social media “bookmark” to put consumer insights in a central place.

3. Adobe’s #CreateYourStory 

The creative software company Adobe is making excellent use of its #CreateYourStory hashtag in their Instagram stories. The hashtag features the Mentor in a Minute series, in which influencers in the creative space—including celebrity filmmakers and actors—take part in a question-and-answer session and provide inspiration and advice to followers. Diverse groups of creators have also made videos on subjects, like how to find your voice, how to handle setbacks and other interesting topics.

Adobe representatives are present at industry events like VidCon and the Sundance Film Festival, ready to help attendees make and share their own stories. The company understands that encouraging their customers to be creative drives a need for their products, like Lightroom, Premiere Pro, Illustrator and Photoshop. This is another lesson in not just knowing your customer but also inspiring them to greatness.

4. Maui Brewing Company’s Instagram Hot Spots and UGC Stories

Maui Brewing Company, an independent brewery based in the Hawaiian islands, is crushing their Instagram game. Maui Brewing’s Instagram feed frequently features hot spots that link to the brewery’s merchandise, one of the strategies we’ve identified as key to successful social ecommerce. They’re also using a sales wall on their Instagram page that gives users another opportunity to shop for their merchandise. 

The brewery also draws on the power of their consumer base to help tell their company’s story—their Instagram story feed is almost exclusively social posts that customers have shared and tagged the brewery in over the last 24 hours. This content not only gives followers—and vacationers seeking out that Hawaiian sun—an authentic look into the brewery, it also helps the brand keep their story’s feed fresh. The combination of using UGC and hot spots is a great example of how companies of any size and in any industry can utilize the power of social selling.  

5. GoPro’s Influencer Marketing 

The visual nature of social media is ideal for action camera retailer GoPro. They’re using hot spots and a sales wall within Instagram along with cultivating a massive influencer marketing program.

Using influencer videos and photos does many things for would-be GoPro buyers, namely:

  1. Demonstrating the quality of GoPro’s equipment through real footage created by a social media influencer admired within a specific community
  2. Galvanizing current GoPro owners to create their own videos

By tapping into influencers, GoPro not only inspires its built-in audience, they also get UGC with a higher-than-normal production value. And the influencers don’t have to be major celebs—there has been a strong shift toward using micro- and nanoinfluencers in social media campaigns.

Learning from the Best

These five brands are all doing tremendous work with social media UGC, and if you’re looking to replicate their success, here are three takeaways:

  • Leverage your fan base. Word-of-mouth marketing works when it comes to selling consumers on your brand—take it to the next level by employing a UGC campaign. And if you need help, TINT has your back—schedule a demo to learn more!
  • Capitalize on social selling tools. Social platforms are way past just “like” and “share” options. Today, there are product hot spots and sales walls that make purchasing a product as simple as tapping your screen. Repurpose that powerful UGC on social platforms and implement these social selling tools to take prospective customers through the sales funnel.
  • Tell a great story. No matter the social platform du jour or the new tools available inside social networks, a brand must have a deep understanding of their customers and tell a meaningful story that connects with them. UGC is easy way to get authentic, consumer-driven narratives to help with your brand storytelling.

If you’re looking at taking your social media UGC strategy to the next level, TINT is here to help. We provide a platform that not only can surface relevant UGC, but also has a rights management system to help you secure the rights to use those images. Be sure to schedule a demo with us today!

Garrett Heath is a social media and content marketing consultant and founder of Chrissy Chavez also contributed research and writing to this article. Header photo by Jenna Day on Unsplash.


Garrett Heath is a social media and content marketing consultant and founder of