Brands desperately want to generate buzz. Getting people to discuss your brand on social media is invaluable in creating awareness and helping to move marketing efforts forward. Generating user-generated content is easy for brands with pretty pictures to share (think fashion and home decor), but less likely verticals need to step up their efforts to gather lifestyle content as well.

So how can even the unlikeliest of brands inspire customers to talk about them? We’ve compiled some of our best tips — inspired by Starbucks, Sharpie and Audi.

1. Starbucks

There’s one type of UGC that often features Starbucks: aspirational lifestyle photos featuring coffee cups in such luxurious settings. And that’s generated its own parody. Remember that viral image of a hand wearing a paper Rolex with a fake Starbucks cup in front of a paper Mercedes steering wheel logo? It perfectly captured the brand’s parity with luxury brands, while reminding customers that even though $5 for a latte is pricey, it’s still within reach for most people.

There’s also another kind of lifestyle content the coffee giant is responsible for: white cup art. Aside from the holiday season, Starbucks uses white paper cups with the brand’s green mermaid logo — a perfect canvas for artists to adorn with doodles galore. In 2014, Starbucks invited customers to decorate the cups and share pictures of the artwork on social media. Users simply tagged photos of their cups under #WhiteCupContest.

Even before the contest, people were drawing on their cups, but Starbucks aimed to find the best designs and vowed to feature the winner on an upcoming reusable plastic cup release.

It generated a big response and lots of content that the brand could repost on its website and social media.

Starbucks #WhiteCupContest

2. Sharpie

So what were people using to draw on those Starbucks cups? Surely some of them used Sharpie permanent markers. And they’re really popular. On Instagram, #SharpieArt has 172,000 posts and #Sharpie has almost 1.5 million posts — meaning lots of people are creating art with Sharpie markers and they’re eager to share it with the world.

To make the most of their customers’ creativity, Sharpie uses photos of fan art on their social media accounts and even built a section on its website specifically for users to upload their artwork. It’s just the type of thing that’ll keep people engaged day after day.


3. Audi

When a guy tweeted about wanting to own an Audi R8, the company saw an opportunity. Audi launched a contest that stoked the desires of wannabe R8 owners. The prize? An Audi R8 for a day.

All users had to do to enter the contest? Send a tweet using #WantAnR8.

For a while, it was the hashtag with the most engagement of all time, and the contest was named the most successful campaign ever at Cannes Lions 2012.