Accelerating community growth and engagement through UGC

By Taylor Parrish|Industry insights|Mon Sep 26 2016|


Marketing in 2016 has been awesome - Twitter is about to break new ground by live-streaming 10 Thursday night Football games, Facebook traipses along its path towards world domination owning all the ad spend, Instagram now has its own "stories", and a handful of forward thinking brands have begun to tap into the power of UGC.

“What I continually found was one Instagram strategy that brands appeared to be using above all others. That strategy is the implementation of user generated content (UGC).”
~Brian Peters, How We Grew Our Instagram Followers by 60% with UGC

Today we will begin our discussion with Airbnb, clocking in at 1.2 million followers on Instagram, 3.6 million page likes on Facebook, and 515k followers on Twitter. So, how did they reach this level of social media stardom?

Here are a few key take-aways:

  • Consistent theme, style, and voice of each social media property
  • Clever use of hashtags to incentivize community engagement
  • 1-2 posts per day on each social property
  • High-quality lifestyle images sourced from community and posted to different social channels
  • Emphasis first and foremost on the people for shared visual content

Next up, we have Carnival Cruise Lines - 306k followers on Instagram, 4 million page likes on Facebook, and 182k followers on Twitter.

Here are some of Carnival’s key social strategies:

  • Re-posting UGC from fans and ambassadors to give 1st person perspective on the experiences
  • Incentivize community to engage and participate in conversation via hashtags and contests
  • 1-2 posts per day on each property
  • Focus on lifestyle / experience imagery

Last up, we have Cheap Caribbean - with 19k followers on Instagram, 413k page likes on Facebook, and 63k followers on Twitter, it has been an absolute pleasure working with this brand and helping them to realize their full potential through UGC marketing techniques.

“Since we’ve partnered with ShareRoot, we have seen our social engagement double and have exceeded our organic engagement goals for the year on all social channels.
We’ve been very happy with our ShareRoot Experience!”
~Sydney Daniels, Marketing Coordinator at Cheap Caribbean

Here’s a quick breakdown of Cheap Caribbean's current strategy:

  • Surface high quality content from Instagram and Twitter through ShareRoot’s proprietary filtering technology
  • Aggregate UGC and legal licensing through ShareRoot
  • Post high-quality UGC mixed with professional imagery to social properties
  • Focus on lifestyle / scenic imagery
  • Experimenting with contests and hashtag activations

Having seen that some of the biggest names in Travel have incorporated UGC into their core social strategy, the question is no longer "does UGC work" but rather, "how well does UGC work?" After an analysis of our work with Cheap Caribbean, the results are quite promising:

  • 258% increase in average engagement
  • 1,300 new followers per month
  • UGC posted on FB has 5x engagement compared to professional / stock photography

The take-away: some of the most active brand communities on social media can be attributed to content sourced directly from the consumer. With over 80 million photos uploaded to Instagram on a daily basis, deliberate & strategic use of UGC provides brands with a unique opportunity to tell their story through the eyes of their biggest fans.

“[Airbnb] successfully tapped in to the desire of customers to live unique experiences
during their travels, as opposed to templated versions of each country.”
~Talkwalker, Hospitality & Social Media

With new technologies and channels for engagement, brands now have the opportunity to make their communities feel special in a way that has, until fairly recently, been unfeasible.

Given the volume of community management technologies coming to market, and with the stellar results of UGC-centric marketing strategies employed by forward thinking brands, it is only a matter of time before these strategies become more widely adopted, (if not standardized completely).

If you’re interested in working with us to grow an active, engaged community through UGC, we’ve got you covered. Shoot a message to - Don’t be a stranger, let’s get to know each other!