August 23, 2018 Last updated on January 16th, 2019
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Most businesses and entrepreneurs have understood that creating quality content is the key to increasing engagement and reach on Instagram. Unfortunately only a few of them have taken advantage of a much more powerful type of content — user generated content on Instagram.

Today, 87% of brands use UGC for authentic (and free) content. People love producing photos and videos for the brands they love. The real shame is that most brands don’t capitalize on the power of user generated content on Instagram.

You might be thinking that no one’s posting about your brand though, right?

Instagram has grown from nothing to more than 1 billion active accounts since its conception in 2011. Possibly even more impressive? 95 million photos and videos are shared on the platform every. single. day.

Still believe no one is posting about your brand?

Hopefully, this article will prove you wrong. I’m here to explain the hidden benefits of user generated content and how you can get your hands on it.

Unlock the Power of
User Generated Content on Instagram

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What is User Generated Content and how does it work?

User generated content on Instagram is any photo or video posted by a customer about a product or brand. It can be positive or negative feedback, but when it’s positive, high-quality and well referenced, you can (and should) utilize this. It’s a great opportunity to leverage your followers’ positive feedback and share engaging content via your feed or stories – with minimal effort on your part!

Sounds like a dream, right?

The only catch is that you need to know how to get your followers to produce it in order to reap its benefits.

User generated content (we’ll go ahead and just say UGC from now on) is great because it proves customer satisfaction and loyalty to a brand. It’s also cost-effective because it’s unpaid content, willingly and authentically produced by customers and fans. The big bonus on UGC is that it’s often more trusted by potential customers than traditional brand advertising and product marketing.

Basically, it’s word-of-mouth in picture form.

user generated content on instagram

The benefits of User Generated Content

When it comes to product advertising, consumers are more wary than ever before.

The customer journey to purchasing a product has evolved hugely over the past few years, largely due to the impact of social media and the trust that consumers have in their online communities.

Most Instagram marketers struggle to produce quality content on a regular basis. The kind of content which is helpful enough to draw people in and get them interested. However, we forget that tens of millions of photos are posted daily on Instagram. If even a few of those concern your brand, they’re potentially valuable content, so why ignore them?

Word of mouth and peer recommendations are what works these days. In fact, the majority of online consumers rely on social networks to guide their purchase decisions, with online customer reviews coming in as their second most trusted source.

As a business using Instagram, you want to make sure you encourage and reward UGC. Here’s why:

  • User generated content is cost-effective — you don’t need to spend any money producing or promoting.
  • User generated content is trusted — content posted by a customer resonates more with others than content produced by the brand itself.
  • User generated content testifies loyalty — UGC is created by loyal customers and fans who care about your brand.
  • User generated content increases reach — the more Instagram users there are creating content about your brand, the more users you reach.
  • User generated content could reshape your ad campaigns — content provided by your followers and customers can also be used in advertising, to give your campaigns that authentic boost.

Let’s take a look at one of the best examples of a brand cashing in on UGC: Starbucks. With more than 32 million images posted with the hashtag #starbucks, it is without question one of the most popular brand hashtags out there.

user generated content on instagram

UGC like this can help you learn your direct customers’ and fans’ habits and interests in the blink of an eye by observing and analyzing their content. Who knows, you might even discover new insights from your community and develop new marketing strategies for your products!

Images created and shared by influencers and customers can be reused by brands to promote their products and add authenticity to their overall message. What’s more, user generated content on Instagram brings about 690% (!) higher engagement compared to the regular piece of content.

In other words, UGC generally means gold for your Instagram. It is the type of content that everyone can relate to, because the photos are authentic and taken from such a personal point of view. These are not professional snaps, they were not premeditated or thought out to “sell” — but simply to share an experience that involves a much loved product.

What better marketing could you get?!

If you’re lucky enough to have a bank of UGC, you can even use this incredible content for ad creation on Instagram or Facebook, and really win the hearts of your fans and potential customers.

Where to find UGC on Instagram

Facebook Stories and Instagram Stories allow brands to have access to their fans’ real-time UGC thanks to the use of geotags. This content can also be collected and reused by businesses, so it’s another great source of content to keep your eye on.

Instagram Stories UGC

Check out the existing UGC for your brand by exploring your brand hashtag on Instagram. Just type in the name of your business in the Instagram search bar and see what kind of content comes up!

If your hashtag has been used, or if you’ve been tagged in a Story, don’t forget that it will only exist for 24 hours. If you want to make the most of this content, the best thing to do is reshare it immediately to your own Story.

How to encourage User Generated Content on Instagram

So this all sounds amazing, right? But how does it apply to you?

If you want to make the most of the UGC you already have, or if you don’t have any and are feeling stuck, keep reading.

The best way to source UGC on Instagram is to ask for it. I’d definitely suggest hosting a UGC contest for your community and get them excited to win a fantastic prize. If your brand is not well known, it’s worth working to build up your follower base and get popular before starting.

First thing’s first. To encourage users to post content about your brand (and monitor that content) you need an appropriate hashtag.

Most people choose their #brandname, but in the case that you should want to collect photos and videos for a particular campaign, you’ll need to create a specific one that has not been used before. For instance, the Iconosquare team came up with the hashtag #iconowalk to promote their recent Instagram walk and keep track of all the UGC produced at the event. Once you’ve chosen your hashtag, be sure to communicate it efficiently so your followers know about it. That hashtag needs to be plastered all over your website, newsletter, email signature… everywhere.

There are several ways to encourage the production of user generated content on Instagram, depending on your budget and your goals. Successful UGC campaigns use a creative strategy to motivate people to participate, plus the right tools to monitor and moderate entries.

Instagram contests are the best way to harvest the motherlode of UGC.

That’s because they rely exclusively on UGC in order to run. By running an Instagram contest, you encourage users to create quality content about your brand or your product — the best they can come up with — in order to win a prize. Once your contest is set up and running, all you have to do is monitor and moderate the entries to keep control of your brand image (no one wants inappropriate pics posted on their hashtag 🙄). And keep checking out all the cool images that are pouring in, of course!

Another simple and efficient way to generate even more content for your brand is to feature the best UGC you already have across your social media platforms to reward your followers’ loyalty and show your gratitude.

Whether or not you decide to run a UGC campaign to generate content, keep in mind that the prize is an important aspect. It can be brand-related, it doesn’t have to be expensive but must have some form of value to your target audience. Recognition is usually the best prize you can offer users on social media, so whatever you do, you better make sure you shout that winner’s name from the rooftops!

Once you’ve successfully harvested a ton of UGC, you can use it to do so much!

  • Repost the content to your Instagram account for adapted, easy posts that sell your brand effortlessly.
  • Post your best content to other social media channels to get the word out.
  • Use the images for your Instagram and Facebook ads… or even elsewhere!

Men’s clothing brand, Menlook, recently launched the first ever TV advertisement using entirely user-generated content on Instagram.

“Menlook has always sought to shake up conventional advertising codes. We were the first pure player to move from web to print with our magazine The Menlook Tribune. Once again, we are leading the way by shaking up current trends: today, brands repurpose their TV campaign on Instagram but we have chosen to capture the creativity and spontaneity of this social network and transpose it to this long-established advertising format.” – Marc Menasé, President of the Menlook Group.

The brand chose their most influential Instagram followers and decided to utilize their clean-cut, professional looking content to advertise their brand on other media. And they’re so clever for doing it! User generated content on Instagram is totally organic and authentic content — so what better way to tell everyone how great your brand is than have some of your already devoted customers do it for you?


The possibilities are endless. You worked hard to get your name, so you deserve this great user-generated content — make the most of it and keep encouraging your happy customers to shout you out on social!

Hope this post was helpful to you! Let me know in the comments if you’re using UGC or are planning on generating some for your business in the future.

For monitoring your hashtags, moderating your comments and collecting UGC,
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About the author
Emily Marsh

Emily Marsh

Emily is an Inbound Marketer for Iconosquare, based in the Limoges office. She loves all things social and revels in keeping on top of the social media marketing game by writing for the blog. She’s also a bit obsessed with sushi and Netflix.

More posts by Emily Marsh

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