Carefully Crafted on July 02

4 Brands Leveraging User-Generated Content to Build Stronger Relationships with Their Fans

This is a guest post from Amy Taylor. As the Director of Content and Community Strategy at Geben Communication, Amy Taylor helps businesses ignite conversation and foster relationships with customers and fans. Driven by a desire to build talkable brands, Amy is passionate about creating share-worthy content that celebrates product, people and purpose, inspiring sustained and meaningful engagement beyond a single transaction. Learn more about her here

One of the best things about user-generated content is that it has opened new lines of communication between brands and the people who love their product or service. As consumers have embraced Instagram, visual marketing has become more powerful than ever.

Just how powerful, you ask? This will give you an idea…

  • 40 million photos are posted to Instagram per day. (Instagram)
  • There are 8,500 likes per second on Instagram.  (Instagram)
  • 1,000 comments are made to Instagram per second.  (Instagram)
  • Of the brands that use Instagram, 41 percent now post at least one photo per week.  (Simply Measured)
  • 98 percent of Instagram photos posted by top brands are shared to Facebook.  (Simply Measured)

Here’s a look at how four different brands – in four very different categories – are leveraging user-generated content to start new conversations and celebrate the relationship between their brand and their fans.

Sprout It

In celebration of the launch of their new iPad gardening app, our client, Sprout it, is giving fans a chance to win a backyard revamp.

By snapping a photo of a spot in their “yard in need” and tagging it with #GrowInpired on Instagram or Twitter, fans are entered for a chance to win great daily prizes. So far we’ve received photos of everything from shoddy sheds to desolate patios to weed-invaded flowerbeds. It seems everyone has a spot in their yard that could use a little sprucing up.

At the conclusion of the contest, one grand-prize winner will receive a free backyard design plan courtesy of DIY home design bloggers Chris and Julia Marcum of Chris Loves Julia, plus a budget of $1,000 to make it happen! Thanks to the blogger partnership Sprout it has connected with a new community of DIYers and their Facebook page has grown by over 200 fans in less than a week.

Note: The Sprout it Backyard Takeover is still going on! Snap a picture of your yard and get your submission in before 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday July 2 for a chance to win.

San Diego Zoo

The San Diego Zoo leverages regular Instagram campaigns to engage their fans, inspire user-generated content and inspire ongoing conversations. As an added bonus, everyone is having lot of fun in the process.

The zoo hosts regular Instagram challenges based on monthly themes. In February, zoo fans were asked to snap photos of “cool cats,” tagging them with #SanDiegoZoo and #CoolCats. The contest was not exclusive to zoo visitors, however. As a way to engage cat lovers and zoo fans at home, even tagged photos of domestic cats qualified as valid entries. One winner received the grand prize, a personal behind-the-scenes tour with a zoo guide.

This summer the zoo is hosting a season-long challenge, “Nighttime Zoo,” asking fans to tag and share their photos of The San Diego Zoo after sundown. In addition to scoring a prize, each week one zoo lovers photo will be featured on the Nighttime Zoo website.

Colorado Tourism Office

As America’s least sedentary state, Colorado visitors and residents are always on the go enjoying splendor of the outdoors. To spotlight Colorado’s healthy and active lifestyle, the Colorado Tourism Office has invited fans to share photos of what Colorado moves them to do.

Photos hashtagged with #ColoradoMovesMeTo are aggregated from Instagram and Twitter. Each photo fans share while hiking, kayaking or biking enters them for a chance to win prizes packs from local Colorado outdoor brands like SmartWool.

As photos are being snapped by real people and shared with their personal networks on Instagram and Twitter, the images serve as an authentic and organic promotion of Colorado’s active lifestyle. By interacting with participant’s photos, the Colorado Tourism Office is able to connect with fans, fostering a community that promotes all the things they love about Colorado amongst their friends. Photos highlighting the state’s activities are being displayed on both a custom gallery for the campaign as well as on The Colorado Tourism Office’s Facebook page, giving everyone a chance to check in on the wonders of Colorado.

Brisk Iced Tea

Jones Soda knows a thing or two about leveraging user-generated content and turning it into a successful marketing strategy. For years, the Seattle-based brand (known for irreverent flavors like “brussel sprouts and prosciutto,” “turkey and gravy” and “jelly doughnut,” in addition to classics like “strawberries and cream”) has designed their soda labels using crowd sourced images uploaded to the website gallery by eager, JS-loving fans.

In 2011, Brisk Iced Tea took a page from Jones’ playbook, upping the game with a little help from Instagram. Brisk challenged fans to post a photo on Instagram hashtagging images with #BriskPic for a chance to become one of 4,000 winning photos to appear on a limited edition can to be rolled out at SXSW.  Though Instagram was still in its infancy at the time, Brisk’s early adoption of Instagram’s crowdsourcing potential ended up being a huge hit, generating a ton of buzz.

What user-generated content campaigns have impressed you?  


  1. […] guest post from Amy Taylor in PrTini tells of the San Diego Zoo’s hashtag contests on Instagram. In February, contestants who appropriately […]

Empowered by:
Empowered by Geben Communication