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How User-Generated Content Made the TELFAR Shopping Bag This Decade’s IT Accessory

Sharifa Duncan
Written By
Sharifa Duncan
Published On
Dec 26, 2022
Four smartphones, each showing social posts from TELFAR’s Instagram page.

How a solid UGC strategy and strong online community can help build organic community marketing

People trust people. It’s no secret that digital marketing will continue to rely heavily on user-generated content in the future. These four things drive this shift:

  1. Today, user-generated content is the word-of-mouth of the digital age. You’ve probably asked a friend, sibling, colleague or parent what to get for lunch, what car brand they trust, or even what shampoo to try. You can now decide if a product is worth your time, energy, and money based on the opinions and experiences of more people.
  2. In addition to giving people a chance to participate in a brand’s growth instead of just being observers, user-generated content helps brands feel more authentic.
  3. It helps build brand loyalty, grows communities, and opens up conversations between brands and consumers when audiences can interact with the brand. This level of brand interaction helps build and grow an engaged community.
  4. Today, shoppers rely more on user-generated content than simply product advertising. 93% of marketers agree that consumers trust content created by real people more than content created by brands. Considering those stats, UGC is the best way for businesses to build trust.
First photo: a person holding a small brown TELFAR bag, second photo

TELFAR is a prime example of how UGC and a solid online community can elevate the brand presence and, in TELFAR’s case, build a cult following.

The fashion brand TELFAR definitely isn’t the first to do it. Despite that, they’re probably the first to dominate feeds with content from everyday buyers using their bags. His goal was to make his bag “Michael Kors, but on purpose.” He wanted it to be for everyone and for everyone to see themselves carrying this bag every day. What better way to bring that message home than with user-generated content?

Many brands carefully curate campaigns with models wearing the product in places that people usually think of. What’s better than a beautiful person with a beautiful bag in a vacation-goals location? No brainer. TELFAR, however, did something totally different.

Source: https://www.instagram.com/p/ChcW9QVOMr3/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

They used UGC from people who were simply out and about with the bag. In any situation. No matter the look. Even if the video’s actual premise isn’t clear (like the soccer mom in the clip above). If the TELFAR was visible, it was on brand. The UGC truly brought their slogan full circle. “not for you – for everyone.”

These are just a few ways UGC shapes consumer behaviour and how we can see that at TELFAR.

  • Social proof your product is worth buying. Your audience can relate to your product when they see people who look just like them using or wearing it, encouraging them to buy it themselves. TELFAR shares videos and images of just how their bag can fit into anyone’s lifestyle, no matter who they are.
Diagram showing how user-generated content affects intent to purchase
  • Having a strong engagement quality of UGC. A resource’s type (for example, videos, text, or photos) impacts the ease with which audiences can determine how this product will benefit them when browsing UGC from other users. TELFAR uses UGC from all mediums, including leveraging their branded hashtag and social listening through mentions of their brand online.

Now, you may be wondering how this applies to something other than fashion brands. Creating a successful community marketing plan starts with these three elements:

Have something shareable

Simple enough, right? It’s easy for some brands to get swept up in all the gimmicks and trends and forget that what your brand is can’t just be your brand. It should also be a lifestyle or something relatable. Whether it’s viral “dance challenges,” meme-worthy imagery, or something that drives incentive to participate like a contest.

Moving away from fashion and retail marketing, we can also see this in the music industry. Dance challenges from Drake, Lizzo and Meghan Trainor on TikTok have been great ways to spread awareness of song releases. In addition to dance challenges, remember when Drake’s Loverboy album cover was everywhere? The sharability of the album art inspired brands that hopped on the trend even during their weekend break with some adhoc marketing.

Adobe’s Twitter account posted an adapted version of Drake’s Certified Loverboy artwork as Certified Creative Boy

Be intentional

Like everything in marketing, sharing UGC intentionally is key. From the outside perspective, TELFAR shared almost everything customers created. Despite this, there is definitely a method to the madness. To start, here’s what you need to know when it comes to a UGC strategy:

Have a campaign

This could be short-term and specific to critical dates of a new product launch, for example, with TELFAR dropping a restock of a sold-out bag. Alternatively, the campaign could be evergreen and run indefinitely.

Have a content acquisition strategy

Will you be grabbing content from a specific hashtag? Social listening? All of the above? Where’s the best platform to find and ask for UGC? It is probably not a good idea to post photo contests or GIFs on LinkedIn if that is your primary social media platform. If you have no UGC available, get into the habit of sourcing from your audience using engaging polls, contests, and Q&As to get started.

Have a utilization strategy

How will you share this content? Is there a set of criteria that must be met before UGC can be shared?

TELFAR repurposes user-generated content every time they restock. It’s perfect, as they can always plan ahead with banked content.

Have an incentive

The cost doesn’t have to be high. You can try these:

  • A chance to be featured on your social media accounts and/or website
  • Free products
  • A gift card or promo code

Being featured on a brand’s social media account is definitely enough of an incentive to keep creators interested – especially for those looking to grow their audience who are willing to take genuine images and videos of your products.

Here’s what we can learn from TELFAR’s UGC strategy from their coveted Bag Security Program:

Logo for TELFAR’s Bag Security Program
  •  Type of campaign: Short-term. Bag Security Program Launch.
  • Goal: Encourage users to sign up for emails and keep them locked on TELFAR’s socials for launch.
  • Content acquisition strategy: Grabbing UGC from TikTok, Twitter and Instagram through social listening, tagged posts and branded hashtags.
  • Content utilization strategy: TELFAR posted compilations of UGC of past bags in all the shades and sizes available in the upcoming program launch.
  • Incentive: being featured on TELFAR’s social media accounts.

It is important to note that “faking it til you make it” does not apply here. Audiences can tell when something isn’t genuine, which could harm your reputation. Your UGC should come from one of three cohorts: customers, brand loyalists, or employees.

Don’t skip community management

The best of the best attract engagement because of their solid community management team. They’re building communities in the comments where consumers are. Answering FAQs and engaging in the conversation on and off their own account.

Social media is supposed to be social. It’s not a bulletin board to post your promotional content and jump offline. It’s where the conversations happen, where trends start, and it’s where time counts.

Final thoughts

The future of marketing is all about transparency, and consumers have more power than ever before. User-generated content gets viewed 2.4 times more than brand-created content, so you need to invest in a social marketing strategy that’s authentic. When you integrate UGC into your marketing strategy, you empower your audience to share their voices and be a part of your brand.



  • Sharifa Duncan

    Sharifa is a Senior Social Media Manager at TIA with 7+ years of social media and digital marketing experience. She's a passionate hunter-gatherer of all things creative, innovative and entertaining; a pop-culture aficionado, music nerd and pseudo-certified ~vibes~ specialist (see: wannabe DJ).

    View all posts
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  • Sharifa Duncan

    Sharifa is a Senior Social Media Manager at TIA with 7+ years of social media and digital marketing experience. She's a passionate hunter-gatherer of all things creative, innovative and entertaining; a pop-culture aficionado, music nerd and pseudo-certified ~vibes~ specialist (see: wannabe DJ).

    View all posts

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