The holidays really are the most beautiful time of the year. And as a brand, you want to portray that as much as possible through your marketing messaging. For your Thanksgiving campaigns, focus on creating experiences that spread the holiday cheer and give the audience the warmth and coziness they crave during these cold winter months. This includes displaying Thanksgiving traditions and user-contributed stories that foster community, gratitude, and celebration among your customer base.
Let’s dive into some real-life examples of businesses that leverage Thanksgiving traditions/user stories to highlight the spirit of gratitude during the holiday season.
What Are User-Contributed Stories?
User-contributed stories are user-generated content (UGC) that shares narratives or experiences about a particular brand.
These stories take many forms, such as personal anecdotes, customer testimonials, photos, or videos. Brands often share this UGC content on social media, happy holidays messages, websites, emails, or other digital platforms.
User-contributed stories have become a big part of marketing because they help build engagement, brand loyalty, and a sense of community around a shared experience or theme. Users can directly participate in the brand’s narrative. This creates a more authentic and relatable connection between the brand and its audience.
Form Health is an example of a brand that leverages user-generated content to boost brand awareness, increase customer loyalty, and drive engagement.
The brand shares videos showing customers talking about their experiences with the Mounjaro or Wegovy prescription, the results it’s given them, and how this has positively affected their lives.
Recipe videos are also great and reliable content to appeal to anyone interested in balanced nutrition.
If patients are the ones who make these videos, they become one of the most powerful tools.
Leveraging User-Contributed Stories in Your Thanksgiving Marketing Campaigns
So, why should you care about Thanksgiving traditions, user stories, and other holiday-themed UGC? Well, the holidays bring about a sense of community and belonging. UGC already does this.
So, when you combine both, you can create a more powerful emotional connection. Showcasing real-life narratives and experiences allows you to humanize your brand and build a more relatable and meaningful relationship with your customers.
This is especially important during the holiday season, which people associate with joy, gratitude, and togetherness. Through UGC, you can show the human side of your business through relatable stories, acts of kindness, and genuine interactions.
The result? Build trust, increase brand recognition, generate social proof, and stand out from competitors.
6 Engaging Thanksgiving User-Generated Content Examples
Coca-Cola’s famous “drinkable” place cards allow consumers to enjoy their beverages while personalizing their bottles with name tags.
The campaign did so well that it increased drink consumption by 7%. So, the beverage giant decided to repurpose the campaign for Thanksgiving.
This involved taking the personalized bottles and using them as consumable placemats around the Thanksgiving dinner table. The brand encouraged Coca-Cola drinkers to find bottles for people attending their Thanksgiving dinner, including extended family, and share their experiences on social media (as social media promotion) using the #ShareACoke hashtag.
Coca-Cola supported the campaign with user-generated content, videos, and GIFs. It generated a fun vibe that people would want to replicate around their Thanksgiving dinner table.
The Share A Coke campaign is an excellent inspiration for Thanksgiving marketing because it taps into the true emotional experience of Thanksgiving, where people spend quality time with family and friends and enjoy a huge feast.
And it’s not just a straight-up advertisement telling people how great the drink is. Many of its customers already know that, anyway.
The brand takes things further by getting its audience involved in the experience. They can use hashtags and share photos, which fosters a sense of togetherness — one of the most important themes of Thanksgiving and the holidays.
Humor is another critical element. In this Instagram post, fans of Supernatural personalize their Coca-Cola bottles with the main characters from the show: Sam, Dean, and John.
2. Office Depot/Office Max Elf Yourself
Office Depot’s Elf Yourself is another fun tradition that brings people together. While it’s not exactly geared towards Thanksgiving, it still spreads holiday cheer. Plus, it debuted in November, right before Thanksgiving.
Here’s how it works: Users simply upload a picture of themselves on the Elf Yourself mobile app. After choosing a dance, the app automatically creates a video showing the faces of dancing elves.
Office Depot encouraged users to share their funny elf dances on social media using the hashtag #ElfYourself.
This campaign has resonated with audiences because it’s downright silly and allows people to be themselves, let go, and have fun. This is so important during holidays like Thanksgiving, as people gather to enjoy themselves and have a good time.
Elf Yourself was also quite successful because it encouraged shareable content, which created a fun and inclusive atmosphere that encouraged participation and social interaction. And you can always bring this same memory into the physical world and turn it into a gift! Take a screenshot of it, print it a few times, frame the images in custom picture frames, and share them with the friends and family that were part of it.
3. The Integer Group 1,000 Stars
Spread kindness this holiday season like the Integer Group. Starting with 1,000 hand-drawn stars, the brand encouraged everyone to do something kind for someone else. The hope was to spark a heartwarming UGC across the nation.
This initiative was powerful because it recognizes that some people are not so fortunate during the holidays. Therefore, the brand encourages people to get involved in the movement to spread kindness.
Using the hashtag #1000StarsStrong, people worldwide can share their experiences in spreading positive, uplifting messages.
4. McDonald’s “Thanksgiving Thank You”
What better way to celebrate Thanksgiving as a brand than to show your customers gratitude for their support?
McDonald’s does this in its “Thanksgiving Thank You” video shared on Facebook. In the video, the fast food giant shows customers enjoying McDonald’s food, highlighting their positive experience with the restaurant.
Saying “thank you” is a simple idea but goes a long way. By saying those simple words, McDonald’s communicates to its customers that they’re essential to the brand and play a key role in its success.
The effectiveness of this message is evident in the 125,000 views, 1.4K likes, and nearly 600 comments the video generated.
5. Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
Are you looking to start a holiday tradition? Use Macy’s annual Thanksgiving Day Parade for some inspiration.
Macy’s employees started the event in 1924 when they marched dressed in vibrant costumes to Macy’s Herald Square in New York. They brought along with them animals from the Central Park Zoo.
The first parade was such a success that it became an annual tradition. Now, the parade’s giant balloons, fabulous floats, and exciting entertainers draw in thousands of people to celebrate and spread holiday cheer.
Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade demonstrates the brand’s commitment to bringing entertainment and joy to audiences. People can enjoy the holiday festivities alongside other Macy’s customers and supporters.
They can take selfies and pictures to document their unique experiences at the parade and share them on social media using the #MacysThanksgivingDayParade hashtag (which has over 150K posts on Instagram).
Plus, every year, millions of viewers tune in to the big event on TV, getting a taste of the action even though they can’t be there in person.
6. Whole Foods Thanksgiving Recipe Contest
Encourage your audience to compete for a chance to win a fabulous prize with a Thanksgiving recipe contest. Whole Foods did this in 2022 with its Next Hot Bar Star contest.
The grocery brand encouraged participants to record a 60-second video of themselves making a holiday side dish using Whole Foods Market products.
To enter, contestants had to submit a video showing the finished product on TikTok, Instagram, or Twitter. They also had to have a public account, follow Whole Foods Market, use the hashtag #WFMHotBarStarContest, and tag Whole Foods in their post.
The brand judged the dishes on originality, customer appeal, quality, and how many Whole Foods products were used in the recipe.
The prize? The winning dish will be featured on Whole Foods’ hot bar next holiday season. The winner would also get $10,000 in Whole Foods gift cards and a trip for two to the Whole Foods Test Kitchen in Austin, Texas.
Whole Foods uses another effective way to get audiences involved in the brand experience. Requiring people to use at least one of its products and share their culinary creations online encourages people to shop at Whole Foods Market and fuels a sense of togetherness.
The user-generated content that results entices, inspires, and reels in others to join in on the holiday cooking fun.
Spread Thanks With Inspiring and Engaging UGC
Hopefully, these Thanksgiving traditions user stories have inspired you to spread the holiday cheer in your marketing campaigns.
Your audience’s diverse content will help you create meaningful connections between customers and your brand. It can even spark new family traditions.
Whether you want your audience to share their best recipes or create a unique brand experience with a Thanksgiving tradition, it’s all in your hands. Just remember to have fun with it, and don’t forget to give thanks.