User-Generated Christmas: UGC and the Holidays

Posted by Emily under Content Marketing


It may only be the beginning of December, but holiday marketing is already in full swing. With both Christmas and Hanukkah right around the corner, there’s no better time than the present to launch a holiday UGC campaign.

User-generated content, or UGC, is any content created by unpaid consumers, such as tweets, reviews, or posts on social media. By using hashtags or contests to encourage consumers to create this content, successful UGC campaigns get your customers doing the marketing for you. 

That being said, how does user-generated content (UGC) fit into holiday marketing? With many brands offering holiday-specific products, and with the festive shopping season in full swing, it’s the perfect time to launch a UGC campaign. 

Successful Holiday UGC Campaigns

Office Max

One of the most notable holiday UGC campaigns is the Elf Yourself campaign, launched by Office Max (now Office Depot Office Max). Launched in 2006, the idea was simple – users were able to paste images of their faces onto dancing elves, and then send the video as an e-card to their friends via email.

The campaign is still going strong to this day, with more than 1.3 billion Elf Yourself videos created over the past ten years. Though email sharing is still an option, the Elf Yourself website now allows users to share their videos across social media, and consumers can even download an Elf Yourself app.



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After the success of their White Cup Contest in 2014, Starbucks launched a similar campaign last December with the launch of their red holiday cups. The company invited customers to share their customized cups on Instagram with the hashtag #RedCupArt, and then created a website to curate submissions.

In just eight days, Starbucks received over 1,200 submissions, and then chose 13 designs to be showcased on this year’s holiday cups. Distributed to over 25,000 stores in 75 countries, the holiday cups are now taking Instagram by storm with Starbucks' latest UGC campaign, the Red Cup Contest. 

Encouraging customers to share images of the red cups on social media, the hashtag #RedCupContest already has over 40,000 posts on Instagram, and it’s only the second week of the contest. By using one campaign to leverage another, and then another, it’s safe to say Starbucks knows how to run a successful UGC campaign.

Simple Holiday UGC Campaign Ideas

Interested in launching a UGC campaign this holiday season? We’ve compiled a few simple ideas to get you started!

Take inspiration from Starbucks and launch a contest on Instagram, requiring entries to include a photo featuring your product with a specific hashtag in the caption. Holding a contest on a high-engagement platform such as Instagram is a simple way to allow current customers to boost your brand exposure, while also reaching potential consumers.

Even without a holiday-specific product, you can still utilize earned media as part of your holiday marketing strategy. Run a holiday giveaway featuring some of your company’s most popular product offerings, and require customers to share an image or use a hashtag as part of their entry.

Another way to boost engagement over the holidays is to simply encourage customers to use a brand-specific holiday hashtag on social media. Share the hashtag across your social media platforms, making sure to repost your favorite submissions to keep the momentum going.

Holiday UGC Campaign “Wrap” Up

The holidays are the perfect time to launch a UGC campaign, and if successful, your company can reap the benefits well into the New Year. By launching a hashtag campaign, contest, or giveaway, you can encourage your customers to spread the word about your brand this holiday season.

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