How to Craft Successful UGC Contests

Unlock brand growth with UGC contests. Learn to plan, promote, and leverage user creativity.

The Moast Team

February 16, 2024

In today's digital landscape, where creativity intersects with technology, brands are constantly seeking innovative ways to engage and connect with their audience. Enter the realm of User-Generated Content (UGC) contests, a dynamic and compelling approach that not only amplifies brand visibility but also fosters a deep sense of community and participation among users. UGC contests encourage customers to create and share their own content related to a brand, merging authenticity with personal storytelling in a way that traditional marketing cannot.

The effectiveness of UGC contests is undeniable. A notable study by TINT revealed that websites featuring user-generated content experienced a 29% increase in web conversions, highlighting the significant impact of UGC on consumer engagement and sale. This statistic underscores the transformative potential of UGC contests in turning passive observers into active participants, crafting a narrative that resonates deeply with the ethos of innovation and quality.

At Apple, where innovation is at the heart of everything we do, we understand the value of engaging our community in the creative process. UGC contests represent more than just a marketing strategy; they are a celebration of creativity, a nod to the ingenuity of our users, and a testament to the collaborative spirit that drives us forward. As we delve deeper into the art of mastering UGC contests, let us explore how these digital engagements can not only elevate brand perception but also forge stronger, more meaningful connections with our audience.

This introduction sets the tone for the article, positioning UGC contests as an innovative and effective tool for engagement, supported by real statistical evidence.

The Rise of UGC Contests

The digital age has ushered in an era where everyone can be a creator (here’s how to identify your ideal UGC creators). This democratization of content creation, fueled by advances in technology and the ubiquity of social media, has significantly contributed to the rise of User-Generated Content (UGC) contests. These contests have become a cornerstone for brands seeking to leverage the authentic voices of their audience, turning every customer into a potential brand ambassador.

A Brief History

The concept of UGC is not new, but its adoption and impact have soared with the proliferation of internet access and social media platforms. Initially, UGC was a way for individuals to express themselves online, but it quickly became apparent that this content had immense value for brands. As early as the 2000s, companies began to recognize the power of user-generated content in creating deeper connections with their audience. Fast forward to today, and UGC contests are a strategic component of many marketing campaigns, celebrated for their ability to generate engagement, increase brand loyalty, and drive conversions.

Evolution and Impact

The evolution of UGC contests reflects a shift towards more interactive and participatory brand-audience relationships. These contests have moved from simple photo submissions to complex campaigns that utilize multiple social media platforms, incorporating hashtags, videos, and even augmented reality experiences. The impact is clear: brands that effectively harness the power of UGC can see significant boosts in their online presence, with user-generated campaigns often outperforming traditional advertising in terms of engagement and reach.

Statistical Evidence of Effectiveness

The effectiveness of UGC contests is backed by compelling data. For instance, a report by Adweek noted that UGC can result in 50% more engagement compared to content created by brands. Moreover, a survey by Tint found that 93% of consumers find UGC to be helpful when making purchasing decisions, underscoring its influence on consumer behavior.

Example: A Case Study of Success

One of the most iconic examples of a successful UGC contest is the "Shot on iPhone" campaign by Apple. Launched to showcase the quality of the iPhone camera, users were encouraged to submit their own photos taken with their iPhones. The campaign not only highlighted the product's capabilities but also celebrated the creativity of Apple's customers, resulting in a wealth of authentic, compelling content shared across the globe. The "Shot on iPhone" campaign stands as a testament to the power of UGC, illustrating how a well-executed contest can enhance brand reputation, foster community, and showcase product excellence in real-world settings.

Apple's Shot on Iphone UGC contest

The Path Forward

As we look to the future, the rise of UGC contests shows no signs of slowing down. With each technological advancement and social media innovation, there lies an opportunity for brands to engage with their audience in new and meaningful ways. UGC contests will continue to evolve, offering a canvas for creativity and a platform for voices to be heard, further blurring the lines between consumers and creators in the digital world.

In this age of authenticity and engagement, UGC contests represent more than just a marketing trend; they are a reflection of the changing landscape of communication and the ongoing dialogue between brands and their communities.

Why UGC Contests Work

The essence of User-Generated Content (UGC) contests lies far beyond their ability to populate social media feeds with brand-related content. At their core, UGC contests tap into the human desire for creativity, recognition, and community, making them an incredibly effective tool for deepening brand engagement and loyalty. Let's explore the underlying reasons why UGC contests have become a favored strategy in the digital marketing playbook.

Psychological Insights: The Desire for Expression and Recognition

Human beings are inherently driven by the need to express themselves and be recognized for their contributions. UGC contests perfectly cater to this need by providing a platform for individuals to showcase their creativity, skills, and experiences. When a brand acknowledges and celebrates this user-generated content, it validates the participant's effort and creativity, fostering a strong emotional connection between the brand and its audience.

Authenticity and Trust

In a world saturated with polished advertising and corporate messaging, authenticity has become a rare commodity. UGC contests cut through the noise by featuring real stories, experiences, and creations from real people. This authenticity resonates with audiences, building trust and credibility in a way that traditional marketing cannot match. A study by Nielsen found that 92% of consumers trust organic, user-generated content more than they trust traditional advertising. This trust that UGC provides is crucial in building long-term relationships with customers.

Community and Belonging

UGC contests do more than just engage individuals; they cultivate a sense of community among participants. By encouraging users to share their content, brands can foster a space where people feel connected to one another through shared experiences and interests. This sense of belonging is powerful, as it transforms customers into active members of a brand's community, leading to increased loyalty and advocacy.

Empowerment and Co-Creation

By inviting users to contribute content, brands are essentially empowering their audience to take part in the creative process. This co-creation fosters a deeper connection to the brand, as participants feel their input is valued and can influence the brand narrative. This empowerment leads to a more engaged and committed customer base, willing to advocate on behalf of the brand.

The Viral Potential

UGC contests have an inherent potential to go viral, exponentially increasing a brand's visibility and reach. When users share their submissions with their own networks, it creates a ripple effect that can significantly amplify the contest's impact. This organic spread is invaluable, as it brings the brand to the attention of potential customers who might not have been reached through traditional marketing channels.


Compared to other marketing strategies, UGC contests can be remarkably cost-effective. While there are costs associated with setting up and promoting the contest, as well as potentially rewarding winners, the value of the generated content and engagement often far exceeds these expenses. Brands receive a wealth of authentic content that can be repurposed across marketing channels, providing a high return on investment.

Planning Your UGC Contest

Embarking on a User-Generated Content (UGC) contest requires thoughtful planning and strategic execution. A well-crafted UGC contest can not only amplify your brand's presence but also deepen your connection with your audience. Here are the essential steps to planning a successful UGC contest that resonates with your brand values and engages your target audience effectively.

A graphic outlining the steps to planning a UGC contest
  1. Setting Clear Goals and Objectives

The first step in planning your UGC contest is to define what you want to achieve. Are you looking to increase brand awareness, drive engagement, collect user-generated content for future marketing efforts, or boost sales? Setting clear, measurable goals at the outset will guide your strategy and help you measure the contest's success.

  1. Choosing the Right Platform

Selecting the appropriate platform is crucial for the reach and success of your UGC contest. Consider where your target audience is most active. Instagram and TikTok, for example, are ideal for visually driven contests, while Twitter might be better suited for contests involving short texts or hashtags. The platform should align with your contest's format and objectives, as well as your brand's overall social media strategy.

  1. Crafting Rules and Guidelines

Clear, concise rules and guidelines are essential to ensure participants understand how to enter the contest and what is expected. This includes detailing how to submit entries, any content guidelines (e.g., no profanity, relevance to the theme), eligibility criteria, and the judging process. Transparency about how winners will be chosen and the prizes awarded will help build trust and encourage participation.

  1.  Choosing the Right Incentive

The incentive or prize should be appealing enough to motivate your audience to participate while being relevant to your brand. Whether it's a product, a unique experience, or recognition on your platforms, the reward should align with your audience's interests and values. This relevance not only drives participation but also ensures that the content generated is aligned with your brand identity.

  1. Promoting Your Contest

A comprehensive promotion strategy is critical to ensure your UGC contest reaches your target audience. Utilize your brand's social media channels, email newsletters, and website to announce the contest and provide regular updates. Consider leveraging paid social media advertising for broader reach and engaging with influencers or brand ambassadors to spread the word.

  1. Monitoring and Engaging

Once your contest is live, actively monitor submissions and engage with participants. Showcasing entries during the contest can keep engagement high and encourage more users to participate. This active involvement also demonstrates your brand's commitment to the community and appreciation for user-generated content.

  1. Leveraging UGC Post-Contest

Plan how you will use the user-generated content after the contest. Whether it's featuring winning entries on your website, sharing submissions on social media, or using content in your marketing materials, ensure you have the rights to use the content and acknowledge the creators. This not only extends the life of the content but also reinforces the value of participating in your contest.

Promoting Your UGC Contest

Once you've meticulously planned your User-Generated Content (UGC) contest, the next critical step is ensuring it reaches and resonates with your intended audience. Promotion is key to driving participation and ensuring your contest's success. Here's how to effectively spread the word and engage participants.

 Leverage Your Brand's Digital Presence

Start by leveraging all your brand's digital channels to promote the UGC contest. This includes:

  • Social Media: Use your brand's social media platforms to announce the contest and share regular updates. Create engaging posts that highlight the contest's theme, rules, and prizes. Use eye-catching visuals and relevant hashtags to increase visibility.
  • Email Marketing: Send out an announcement to your email list and consider segmenting your audience for personalized follow-ups. Regular updates can keep the contest top-of-mind for your subscribers.
  • Website: Feature the contest prominently on your website's homepage or a dedicated landing page. This can provide a central hub for all information related to the contest.

 Create Compelling Content

Your promotional content should be as engaging and creative as the content you hope to receive from your participants. Use compelling visuals, videos, and copy to explain the contest details and encourage participation. Highlight the prizes and the potential for recognition to motivate your audience.

 Utilize Paid Advertising

To extend your reach beyond your existing audience, consider using paid social media advertising. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok offer targeted advertising options that can help you reach a specific demographic, increase the contest's visibility, and drive more entries.

 Engage with Influencers and Brand Ambassadors

Partnering with influencers or brand ambassadors who resonate with your target audience can dramatically increase your contest's reach. These partnerships can provide authentic endorsements of your contest, encouraging their followers to participate. Choose partners whose followers align with your target demographic and who share values with your brand.

Promoting a UGC contest

 Encourage Sharing

Make sharing part of the contest itself. Encourage participants to share their entries on their own social media channels with a specific hashtag. This not only increases the visibility of the contest but also leverages the networks of each participant, creating a viral effect that can attract new participants and followers.

 Monitor and Adjust Your Strategy

As your contest progresses, closely monitor the performance of your promotional efforts. Use analytics to understand which channels and messages are driving the most engagement and participation. Don't hesitate to adjust your strategy based on what's working best. Engage with participants and followers by liking, commenting, and sharing their content to maintain momentum and encourage further participation.

 Timing and Frequency

Timing is crucial when promoting your UGC contest. Start promoting well in advance of the contest start date to build anticipation. Maintain a consistent frequency of promotional messages across all channels to keep your audience engaged without overwhelming them. As the contest deadline approaches, increase the frequency of reminders to encourage last-minute entries.

Running Your UGC Contest with Moast

In the journey of crafting and executing a successful User-Generated Content (UGC) contest, leveraging the right platform can be a game-changer. Moast, a cutting-edge Shopify app, provides an innovative solution for brands looking to elevate their UGC contests by collecting and showcasing content from their top customers. Integrating Moast into your UGC contest strategy not only streamlines the process but also enhances the engagement and interaction between your brand and its audience.

Collecting UGC with Moast

Moast’s Shopify app makes it super easy to set up an email campaign directly from the dashboard. The campaign can be configured to target customers who have purchased within a desired timeframe or product type. Incentives such as gift cards can also be offered and automatically issued to customers who create approved profiles.

Harnessing Moast's Interactive Widgets

Moast offers a library of interactive widgets that can transform how user-generated content is displayed and experienced. By featuring customer content on a map or through a TikTok-like carousel format, Moast adds a layer of engagement that goes beyond traditional content sharing. These formats are not only visually appealing but also offer a unique way for participants to explore entries based on location or simply enjoy a dynamic feed of creative submissions.

Making Content Shoppable and Interactive

One of the standout features of Moast is its ability to make UGC shoppable and interactive. This means that shoppers can not only view the content but also engage in conversations with the customers who created it. For a UGC contest, this functionality can significantly enhance the shopping experience, making it more personal and authentic. By leveraging Moast, brands can create a more immersive environment where participants feel genuinely connected to both the content and the creators.

Moast UGC profile collage

Integrating Moast into Your UGC Contest Strategy

To effectively integrate Moast into your UGC contest, follow these steps, building upon the previous sections of planning and promoting your contest:

1. Set Up Moast on Your Shopify Store: Begin by installing Moast on your Shopify store. This will be your central platform for collecting, displaying, and managing the user-generated content submitted through your contest.

2. Promote Interactive Engagement: When announcing your UGC contest, highlight the interactive features that Moast offers. Encourage participants to explore the map view or carousel format, emphasizing how their content could be featured and interacted with by shoppers worldwide.

3. Leverage Shoppable Features: Inform participants that their content will not only be showcased but also made shoppable. This adds value to their participation, as it directly links their creative efforts with potential sales, benefiting both them and the brand.

4. Encourage Conversations: Emphasize the interactive aspect of Moast, where shoppers can have conversations with content creators. This can motivate participants to produce high-quality, engaging content that sparks discussions and builds community.

5. Utilize Moast's Widgets for Promotion: Throughout the contest, use Moast's interactive widgets to display submissions on your brand's website and social media channels. This not only promotes the contest but also demonstrates the dynamic ways in which content can be explored and engaged with.

6. Monitor and Engage: Just as with promoting your UGC contest, use Moast's analytics tools to monitor engagement and interactions with the content. Engage with both the creators and the audience by highlighting standout submissions and facilitating conversations around them. This active involvement keeps the momentum going and encourages more participation.

7. Showcase Winners and Entries: After the contest, utilize Moast to showcase the winning entries and other notable submissions. Highlighting these on your Shopify store not only celebrates the creativity of your community but also continues to drive engagement and sales through the interactive and shoppable features of the content.

Running your UGC contest with Moast offers a unique opportunity to engage with your audience on a deeper level. By making user-generated content interactive and shoppable, Moast not only enhances the customer experience but also contributes to building a vibrant community around your brand. The integration of Moast into your UGC contest strategy, from planning and promoting to engaging and showcasing, ensures a seamless, engaging, and rewarding experience for both your brand and its audience. Embrace Moast to transform your next UGC contest into an interactive, community-building event that drives engagement, enhances authenticity, and boosts sales.

 UGC Contest Success Stories

User-Generated Content (UGC) contests have proven to be an effective strategy for e-commerce brands looking to engage with their audience, generate authentic content, and enhance brand visibility. Let's explore two success stories from lesser-known e-commerce brands that utilized UGC contests to remarkable effect.

Chubbies Shorts UGC contest

 1. Chubbies Shorts: "The Quest for the Best Summer Ever"

Brand Overview: Chubbies Shorts, an e-commerce brand specializing in men's casual and swim shorts, is known for its fun-loving brand persona and engaging marketing campaigns.

Contest Strategy: Chubbies launched "The Quest for the Best Summer Ever" contest, inviting customers to submit photos and videos showcasing their summer adventures wearing Chubbies Shorts. The contest aimed to highlight the brand's association with fun, relaxation, and the spirit of summer.

Execution: Participants were encouraged to share their submissions on Instagram using a specific hashtag curated for the contest. Chubbies promoted the contest through their social media channels, email newsletters, and on their website, emphasizing the prizes, which included free shorts and exclusive discounts.

Outcome: The contest generated a significant amount of user-generated content, with customers eager to share their summer experiences. This not only provided Chubbies with authentic content for their marketing campaigns but also strengthened the brand's community by showcasing real customers' adventures. The engagement from the contest led to increased brand awareness and boosted sales during the summer season.

 2. Glossier: "GlossierRep Program"

Brand Overview: Glossier, a beauty and skincare brand, has built its success on the back of strong community engagement and leveraging user-generated content.

The Glossier Rep program as a UGC contest

Contest Strategy: Although not a traditional contest, Glossier's "GlossierRep Program" invited customers to become brand ambassadors by sharing their beauty routines featuring Glossier products on social media. Selected ambassadors, or "Reps," would receive special perks, including product discounts and early access to new releases.

Execution: Glossier utilized its social media platforms and website to invite submissions, asking participants to tag their content with GlossierRep. The brand focused on selecting diverse ambassadors who could authentically represent the Glossier community, emphasizing real beauty routines over professional-quality content.

Outcome: The program was a massive success, creating a wave of authentic, user-generated content across social media platforms. This not only increased Glossier's visibility online but also cemented its reputation as a brand that values and celebrates its community. The GlossierRep Program helped drive customer loyalty, with Reps and their followers becoming more invested in the brand.

These examples from Chubbies Shorts and Glossier illustrate the transformative potential of UGC contests for e-commerce brands, especially those seeking to carve out a niche in competitive markets. By engaging their communities and leveraging authentic, user-generated content, both brands achieved increased visibility, stronger customer loyalty, and a significant boost in sales. These success stories serve as a blueprint for other e-commerce brands looking to harness the power of UGC contests to propel their growth and deepen connections with their audience.

Conclusion: Unleashing the Power of UGC Contests

As we've explored throughout this article, User-Generated Content (UGC) contests represent a pivotal strategy in the modern digital marketing playbook. These contests not only enable brands to generate authentic, engaging content but also foster a deep sense of community among participants. By tapping into the creativity and enthusiasm of their audience, brands can amplify their message, enhance their visibility, and build a more intimate connection with their customers.

From planning and promoting to executing and leveraging the content, each phase of a UGC contest plays a crucial role in its overall success. Platforms like Moast offer innovative solutions to showcase UGC in interactive and shoppable formats, further enhancing the value of these contests for e-commerce brands. Success stories from lesser-known brands like Chubbies Shorts and Glossier illustrate the significant impact that well-executed UGC contests can have on brand loyalty, community engagement, and sales.

In conclusion, UGC contests are more than just a marketing tactic; they are a testament to the power of community and creativity in the digital age. By embracing this strategy, brands can not only achieve their marketing objectives but also create meaningful experiences that resonate with their audience. As we look to the future, the role of UGC contests in brand strategy is poised to grow, offering endless possibilities for brands willing to invest in the creativity of their communities.

This exploration into the world of UGC contests underscores their effectiveness as a tool for engagement, authenticity, and storytelling. As brands continue to navigate the evolving digital landscape, those that harness the power of their audience's creativity will find themselves at the forefront of marketing innovation.

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