User Generated Content on Instagram [ The Ultimate Guide ]

Thiago Nogueira
Thiago Nogueira
Customer Success Manager at Insense

Social media platforms are constantly changing. 

User behavior is changing too, and this naturally affects all platforms, including established ones, like Instagram. 

The content users prefer to consume today is short and sweet and should not feel salesy. 

The burning question is: how can brands prepare themselves for success? 

Enter … user generated content. 

In our concise guide, you'll learn:

  • What UGC on Instagram is
  • The benefits of UGC on Instagram
  • Inspirational examples of brands using it

Let’s dive into this exciting topic!

What is User Generated Content on Instagram?

User generated content (UGC) on Instagram is any form of content created by users themselves showcasing a brand’s products or services.

Why care about UGC on Instagram in particular? Because Instagram provides a lot of possibilities for brands to enjoy user generated content (by supporting both image and video content) and makes it easy to repost user content that mentions your brand. 

As long as users give you permission to use their content, you can reshare it freely on your brand’s account. 

There are several ways users permit you to repost their content by using Instagram features like:

  • Instagram Stories stickers: Through stickers like “mention” and “hashtag”, users refer to other accounts and permit them to reshare the mentioned content.
  • New post: When users upload a new post, they have two options, “add tag” or “invite collaborator” to give other users access to the new post.
  • Instagram Reels (videos): “Remix” is a new feature that looks like TikTok’s “Duet.” In short, users can record their Reels alongside videos from another user. 

By using the platform’s native features, brands can create and reshare UGC on Instagram genuinely.

Now that we’ve explained what UGC on Instagram is, let’s move forward with its benefits.

The Benefits of UGC on Instagram

As we’ve seen, Instagram has many features for creating and distributing UGC and can help you elevate your brand's content strategy. 

UGC is an interactive type of content and leverages word-of-mouth marketing

That means UGC is a form of content that comes from real users and refers to users. 

This type of content is important because customers trust word of mouth 92% more than any other type of advertising.

Also, UGC helps convert potential customers. In fact, 78% of millennials find UGC especially helpful in making purchasing decisions.

On that note, Instagram makes it very easy for brands to sell directly through Instagram Shopping. Actually, 70% of shoppers look on Instagram for their next purchase. 

Now, let’s see what value brands can get from using UGC on Instagram.

Amplified exposure

By its very nature, UGC increases brand awareness and reach on Instagram.

When users create content about brands and share it to their Instagram accounts, they amplify the brand's message to other people. 

That’s what makes UGC an ideal type of content for businesses looking to gain attention, because the more users there are promoting your brand organically through genuine reviews and testimonials, the better. 

Moreover, UGC differs from typical brand-generated content as it encourages users to share their own experiences, which makes the content feel truly authentic.

And by reaching a broad audience with genuine UGC, brands can indirectly control what's being said about them and make sure there are positive and authentic messages online around their brand.

Boost in brand credibility and trust

One of the biggest advantages of brand-building with user generated content campaigns is that brands are more likely to gain the all-important trust of consumers, which marketers and brand owners may find hard to establish on their own. 

93% of marketers agree that customers trust the content other users create. 

UGC therefore works as social proof, answering the prayers of consumers who seek reliable sources to make educated purchasing decisions. 

In fact, 93% of customers consult reviews and recommendations of real people before buying. 

Simply put, a content marketing strategy that focuses on encouraging UGC creation and collaborations with content creators trusted by your target audience, goes a long way in helping you increase brand loyalty. 

This is the power of leveraging authentic content!

Increased user engagement

UGC posts have a 28% higher engagement rate than branded, high-quality content on social media. 

Also, 90% of brands that use Facebook feed ads mention that UGC increases engagement in ads.

Through sharing user generated content, users interact with brands and vice versa. 

That way, an engaged community is created that benefits both consumers and brands. 

Diversification of content

Another positive aspect of UGC is that it differs from traditional content forms in a meaningful way. 

In essence, it’s an authentic type of content that’s relevant to customers without directly promoting the brand's products or services. 

In fact, promotional content by brands seems to have the opposite effect, as 45% of people will unfollow a brand on social media if it's too salesy. 

It also creates a diversified feed, as the audience can create social media content in many different formats, such as Instagram posts, Stories, or Reels, while giving brands the opportunity to repurpose the content into different formats and across several digital platforms. 

You’ve seen the benefits and now wanna know how to get UGC on Instagram? We feel you!

Let’s jump right into it. 

4 Ways to Source User Generated Content on Instagram

UGC is all about engaging with consumers and creators to make genuine content about your brand.

Where do you start? 

Your goal should be to create interactive and original marketing efforts that allow users to interact. 

Let's discover some things you can do to source UGC on Instagram.

1. Begin a hashtag trend

A branded hashtag is the simplest thing a brand can do to attract users' interest. 

This hashtag can represent a new product or a campaign you've created. 

The most important thing is to promote this hashtag and create buzz among your audience. 

You can announce the hashtag through Stories, in-feed posts, or even an Instagram Reel

The interesting thing about Instagram hashtags is that you can find them all under one tag on the app, which allows you to easily track submissions and find users' creations all in one place, through this hashtag tab.

Image Source: Instagram

Through the search bar, you can explore the specific hashtag you’re interested in and have access to every social media post associated with that hashtag.

2. Ask for permission

In case a creator or user has already created content about your brand on Instagram, the only thing you need to do is ask for their permission to repost it. 

This is crucial to avoid any conflict. 

You can request permission from creators by simply writing a comment on their posts or sending a direct message (DM) to them. 

You could also interact with the creator's audience by commenting on the post.

Instagram Stories, on the other hand, works differently. 

If your brand is mentioned, you can reshare the content without asking for permission.

Tip: If you repost the user’s content, mention or tag the original creator.

3. Team up with influencers and content creators

If you want UGC you simply encourage your audience to create more content about your brand; if you want great UGC, you collaborate with creators and influencers. 

According to research, 61% of consumers trust the recommendations of influencers, which makes the content you create in collaboration with content creators so valuable. 

In lower-budget cases, consider working with nano-influencers (1k-5k followers). While partnerships with nano-influencers are cheaper, they are just as effective since they have the highest engagement rates

Choosing the right creators who align with your brand values ​​and proposition is essential.

4. Encourage UGC submissions

Your audience may love your brand but need an extra boost when it comes to talking about it online or creating content for your products and services. 

That’s why it’s so important to make them feel welcome and encouraged to create content for you.

Thankfully, there are tons of ways to prompt users to create content. 

A good example that showcases best practices comes from GoPro, which has incorporated UGC content into its marketing strategy.

Image Source: Instagram

As you can see above, GoPro is running a campaign on Instagram inviting its audience to create content with GoPro’s new camera and post it online to participate in the contest. 

GoPro encourages the audience to participate by rewarding them with a cash prize.

Key takeaways from this example:

  • Use a call-to-action that triggers emotion
  • Add your contest, giveaway, or branded hashtag to your Instagram bio
  • Reward your participants

The reward may vary and doesn’t have to be a cash prize. You can give a freemium subscription, a free product, or a gift card.

How to Use UGC on Instagram

Now it’s time for the nitty-gritty part of our guide.

You may think about using UGC on your account to boost engagement and conversions.

And we got you! 

Here, you’ll find best practices for UGC on Instagram and ways to take advantage of it.

1. Pick the right content to share

Evaluate the content created for your brand based on your goals and the value of the material. 

These goals might be the following: 

  • Build an active community 
  • Promote a new product or service organically 
  • Get useful reviews

You can define the content that’s relevant to your brand and helps you communicate the right messages.

Once you’ve found such content for your brand, it’s time to reshare it as is or repurpose the content.

Put in one sentence, leverage UGC that matches your brand’s quality, voice, tone, and style.

2. Collect and reshare reviews

Whatever the goal of marketing campaigns, from driving sales to building a community, trust is a catalyst. 

People tend to ask their peers or family before making decisions. Actually, written reviews describe a positive experience for 75% of consumers

So user reviews and testimonials play a significant role for consumers. 

You can repurpose UGC into content for your website’s homepage or add customer reviews on your landing pages to build trust with your potential clients.

This way, you boost brand credibility.

3. Create an offshoot account for UGC submissions

An exciting option for brands with greater appeal is creating an offshoot account where they display related users’ content. 

Image Source: Instagram

Red Bull has created multiple Instagram accounts based on specific topics, locations, and more. 

This encourages consumers to create content that their favorite brand will display.

Through this idea, new perspectives are created for brands, as they can structure the offshoot account according to the needs of their consumers. 

Also, they define creative topics and categories that the audience aligns with. 

In addition, brands become more accessible to their consumers, who feel comfortable expressing themselves and creating content.

Let's see some inspirational examples of brands using UGC on their Instagram accounts.

7 Successful Examples of Brands’ UGC on Instagram

It's time for some fun! 

Several brands have taken UGC to the next level and it’s a key part of their marketing strategy. 

Let's get inspired!

1. #Adobe_Perspective

Adobe is a creative software company with digital products known worldwide. 

Image Source: Instagram

As a software company focusing on digital creators, Adobe uses the hashtag #Adobe_Perspective to source and share content that artists generate using their products.

This UGC campaign is a great source for both the brand and artists.

On the one hand, the software’s capabilities are presented to the public in a very creative way, establishing a representative image of the company. 

On the other hand, the creators who produced this content have the opportunity to be featured on Adobe's account and be exposed to more than 1.4 million Adobe followers.

2. Starbucks #WhiteCupContest

Starbucks is an American coffee company and one of the largest coffee chains in the world.

Image Source: Instagram

The White Cup Contest idea was born through a contest on Twitter back in 2014, where consumers would doodle on a Starbucks white cup and share tweets with their creations. 

The winning design would become the template for future Starbucks cup designs. 

Starbucks repeated a similar contest in the following years, creating a large marketing campaign on Twitter and Instagram.

As you can see above, people continue to share their unique white cups (that aren’t so white anymore 😉).

3. Samsung #withGalaxy

Samsung is a South Korean multinational electronics company that designs, manufactures, and sells a wide range of electronic products.

Image Source: Instagram

It represents a remarkable example of how a brand can highlight its value through the voice of its consumers. 

Samsung created a viral hashtag, #withGalaxy, which encourages people to show off the capabilities of their devices. 

It's an idea that many brands in the technology sector are capitalizing on. 

Essentially, instead of the brand talking about its products, it lets its consumers show the value they get from them.

Such Instagram campaigns are great for creating a pleasing, non-salesy Instagram feed for your audience without focusing on your products.

4. #BMWRepost

BMW is a German luxury vehicle manufacturer that produces a range of cars, motorcycles, and engines.

Image Source: Instagram

BMW created #BMWRepost to encourage proud BMW owners to share their beloved vehicles. 

In short, they allow consumers to showcase their luxury purchases and communicate their joy through a community of people who share the same passion for luxury cars. 

In addition, they enable consumers to share the reasons they love their car and why they choose that particular brand. 

5. Converse #ForeverChuck

Converse is an American company specializing in designing and producing sneakers and casual footwear.

Image Source: Instagram

Converse created a branded hashtag to motivate fans of the brand to show off their favorite products. 

This also allows retailers to promote the brand's products to a community of stakeholders.

It's a simple example of how you can create a UGC campaign targeting your consumers.

6. #WayfairAtHome

Wayfair is a leading online furniture, decor, and home goods retailer.

Image Source: Instagram

It created a UGC campaign for consumers to describe their experiences with the company's products.

Using a branded hashtag, #WayfairAtHome, Wayfair urged consumers to take photos and repost them on Instagram showing home setups. 

Wayfair then republishes the consumer posts in its feed, adding relevant links to its products in its ecommerce store. 

The result? 

Over 55,000 posts!

7. #AerieReal

Aerie offers women's lingerie, loungewear, and activewear. The brand focuses on comfort, fit, and style.

Image Source: Instagram

Aerie launched an Instagram campaign advising against the retouching of model photos and encouraged their followers to post unedited pictures of themselves in swimwear using the hashtag #AerieReal. 

Aerie donates $1 to the National Eating Disorders Association for every post.

The takeaway here is that people are more likely to support causes they believe in if they can do so through user generated content.

After these creative examples of UGC, it is time to wrap this up!

Over to You

UGC on Instagram can help you elevate your digital marketing strategy and take your relationship with your audience to the next level. 

If you’re ready to get started or want to know more about how to work with top creators for UGC, we’re here to support you. 

Don’t hesitate to book a demo with Insense, to see for yourself how to find genuine content creators who can create authentic UGC for your brand.

We look forward to seeing your UGC campaigns live.

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