social media how toDo you want to increase the ROI for your social media campaigns?

Have you considered fan content?

Using fan photos in your marketing is an effective way to highlight your brand, products and customers at the same time.

In this article you’ll discover five ways to drive ROI with user-generated content campaigns on social media.

use fan content to improve roi

Discover how to use fan content to improve your ROI.

Listen to this article:

Why User-Generated Content Campaigns?

With the proliferation of online channels in addition to those of traditional marketing, you’re in a constant battle for your audience’s attention. Rather than rely solely on your creative team to produce content, consider turning to your customers.

Putting in the time and effort to develop customer relationships typically means that your social media program will consume a large share of your marketing budget. For this reason, you may be asked to justify spending by providing concrete social media ROI. It’s true that it’s difficult to measure the business value of a like or a shared post, but you can successfully run social marketing campaigns and see real returns for your efforts.

Take a look at how these five brands have launched and managed user-generated content campaigns across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

#1: Turn Fans Into Product Models

Charlotte Russe ran an exceptional social media marketing campaign to showcase the #CharlotteLook (how influencers were styling their clothes). Instagram users were asked to upload their favorite Charlotte look and use the campaign hashtag in their posts.

The company selected the most on-brand user-generated content from the campaign and displayed it on their homepage.

charlotte russe ugc instagram post

Charlotte Russe asked users to upload photos of their favorite look to social media channels using the hashtag #CharlotteLook.

Charlotte Russe linked each winning photo to the product pages of the items that were featured in the photo. This tactic resulted in viewers who engaged with the customer photos being 28 times more likely to end up on a Charlotte Russe product page.

#2: Reward Your Fans

6 Pack Fitness launched their #LeadThePack campaign with a weekly bag giveaway. They asked users to submit a photo for a chance be featured on the website and win a bag of their choice.

6 pack fitness ugc instagram post

Ask your fans to submit photos for a chance to win a free product, like 6 Pack Fitness did with the hashtag #LeadThePack.

6 Pack Fitness’s social media marketing strategy included displaying the best customer photos featuring their bags on the company’s product pages.

The company saw an immediate impact on their ecommerce performance. Customers who interacted with one of the customer photos on their product pages were 2.7 times more likely to make a purchase and had 12% larger order sizes.

#3: Build on Local Pride

The Breckenridge Colorado Tourism Office ran a successful social media campaign that asked: Why do you love Breckenridge? Fans were asked to share their thoughts on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

breckbecause ugc instagram post

Ask your fans to share their own perspectives about your products or destination.

Under the tagline #BreckBecause, fans formed an online community that showcased the authentic Breckenridge experience.

As a result of this campaign, increased web traffic from social media by 841% and increased Instagram followers by 93%.

#4: Celebrate Customer Stories

Ahnu has a customer base of active adventurers who wear their shoes. The brand launched its #Ahnu campaign to collect photos of cool things their fans were doing and interesting places they were visiting. The company displayed #Ahnu campaign submissions on their Facebook page, and viewers could vote on their favorite content.

ahnu shoes ugc instagram

Let your fans share how you fit into their lives.

The users who engaged with these customer photos were 12 times more likely to end up on the Ahnu website.

#5: Tap Into Customer Lifestyles

California Natural Products wanted to increase brand awareness about their Svelte protein shakes on social media. Under the hashtag #DrinkSvelte, they asked fans to post photos of themselves and their Svelte drinks.

svelte ugc instagram post

Ask fans to submit photos with your products.

The best photos were displayed on the Svelte website, and the photos generated more than 2 million impressions online.

How to Leverage Your Own User-Generated Content

The brands featured in this article went above and beyond just collecting content. They dispersed it through a wide range of networks. The right marketing mix is different for every company, so you’ll have to experiment with what works best for your business.

To get you started, here are a few ways that you can put all of that great customer content from your social media marketing campaigns to work for you.

Advertise on Social Channels. Advertising with user-generated content offers an authentic look into your brand. Place your highest-performing customer photos and videos in display ads to avoid ad fatigue and keep your retargeting campaigns fresh. Remember to budget in advance for strategic paid promotion and anticipate where you might want to conduct your content advertising outside of your owned media.

Use Your Owned Marketing Channels. User-generated content can yield significant results when used on your owned media and ecommerce websites. Place real customer photos on your product pages as visual reviews. These visual endorsements help articulate the value of your products or services. Also don’t forget to repost customer photos aggressively on your social media channels and engage in conversations with your customers.

Don’t Forget Print. There’s no reason you have to stick to digital. You can place user-generated content on packaging and on physical and live displays. For example, Apple placed customer photos from their Shot on iPhone 6 campaign on billboards. Package inserts can be a cost-effective and versatile medium for building relationships with your customers. Leveraging your highest-performing user content can significantly bolster your print campaigns.


User-generated content campaigns are a great way to monitor and participate in social conversations as they develop and evolve. Visual user content can increase the ROI from your social media campaigns. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution, but through trial and error, you can learn how to get the most out of your campaign content and celebrate your loyal customer base.

What do you think? What are some of the best user-generated content campaigns that you’ve seen? Feel free to share in the comments below.

how to use fan content to improve roi

Tips for using fan content to improve your ROI.

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  • Thomas

    Great post. I’m actually using a customer photo for an Instsgram ad. After regularly posting photos to our Instagram feed we saw great engagement from our followers as well as others that want their photos featured by tagging us. I will also be including it in our thank you letter to our buyers to please share a photo using #designbybittersweet or tagging us @designbybittersweet for a chance to win a credit to the shop.

  • Juliet C.

    Hi Thomas, Thanks for the note. Placing high performing customer photos in paid ads is a sure way to increase conversion and engagement. Sounds like you are on the right track!

  • Whitney

    Great ideas – but how can a small brand that makes a product get on board with this? My company has a very small base on social, and we struggle for engagement on content that offers a reward (like comment to win). I fear a large failure if we were to ask people to tag their photos of us with them – just zero engagement. There’s so many things we would love to get user content for, but we just don’t know how to get people to post it.

  • Juliet C.

    Hi Whitney, you’re right– without social content, there is little social word-of-mouth. At Pixlee, we are often asked to address this question. You can read some of our tips and tricks here ( on proven ways to get customers posting about your brand.

  • Whitney. That’s also one of the biggest problems I have when helping clients who run small or startup businesses. But our solution is we focus on growing our customer base and user satisfaction. The ideas above are just fruits of a good customer experience. It all starts with your great brand sensation, smart and well-targeted marketing and a group of people who are enjoying your content. Then gradually, you’ll see that it’s a lot easier now to apply those ideas above.

  • Great article, Juliet. I enjoyed reading it.

  • Loved the post Juliet! I have seen that whenever you have to run campaigns to promote your brand or attract more customers for your site, Instagram has come up top followed by Facebook. I have read posts related to running hashtag campaigns before here on SME and the examples mostly were of Instagram and FB.

    However, most of these examples are from the ecommerce industry. Can you cite examples of other industries which are doing exceptionally well in this even when they considering boring?

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  • Gael Oizel

    Excellent idea @disqus_Jplq2SDULo:disqus !

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  • Juliet C.

    Hi Ajay, thanks for your post. Leveraging user generated content to improve marketing is common across industries and can be targeted to achieve a variety of goals.

    To give you an example– Squaretrade ran a campaign asking its customers to post photos of their repaired electronic devices under the hashtag #GOODAGAIN. The goal was to share the high levels of customer satisfaction with its services. With this campaign, the brand was able to share the SquareTrade experience with a broader audience and to increase awareness on social.

    Here are some other great campaigns outside of ecommerce to check out:
    — Levi’s #Showup campaign for Superbowl 50
    — Kimpton’s #adorethyselfie campaign
    — Breckenridge tourism #gobreck campaign

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  • An interesting read!
    I like the part that you have included print media in this article. Being known that print is not that interactive, big companies like Apple have mixed digital and print to make the most out of customers’ content. Producing a billboard without spending too much on endorsers– that’s really cost-effective! And if I’m the customer, I would really engage in this type of campaign, thinking that I can be an instant endorser of Apple! Keep it up, Juliet! 🙂

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  • Juliet C.

    Thanks! Bridging the physical and digital divide can be challenging. If you are interested in learning other ways to use digital customer photos in print media, I recommend reading about some other use cases (i.e., on package inserts, live displays, etc.) here:

  • Vilma Betancourt

    Thanks for great tips.

  • Thanks Juliet. Excellent examples.