The Power of User Generated Content on Instagram and How to Use It Effectively

What is UGC? If you are a social media marketer who likes to be on top of the latest trends at all times, you have surely heard of user generated content. Such content is a powerful marketing tool to boost user engagement on social media and influence purchase decisions (in case of 90% users, in fact). The biggest reason is that, content generated by users are trusted more by other users rather than the claims made by brands. So, it’s no wonder that ads involving UGC witness 5 times higher click-through rates as well, compared to those without UGC. 

And when UGC meets Instagram, the concoction is truly powerful. Need proof? Starbuck’s UGC post on Instagram was preferred by 61% users compared to its branded post that was liked by 39%.

Now, pair this fact with the following statistics to understand why Instagram is the perfect social media platform to leverage the power of user generated content marketing

  • Over 1 billion monthly active users. 
  • More than 60% users check the app once every day, at least.
  • Every month, more than 130 million users interact with shopping posts.
  • Conversion rate of posts containing UGC is 4.5% higher than those without UGC. 

So, it is easy to see why promoting UGC on Instagram is wise and can help you build deeper relationships with consumers, encouraging them to buy from you.

If you too wish to use consumer generated content for your Instagram marketing strategy like some of the top brands in the world, first understand why user generated content is so powerful. 

Also Read: Social Media Style Guide – What is It & How to Create One?


Why does UGC work so well on Instagram?

  • Establishes authenticity – Did you know that consumer are more than twice likely to consider UGC content as genuine compared to what brands create? When real people are shown using or loving your brand or products, it will be easier for others to jump on the bandwagon. For instance, here is an adorable UGC post by Warby Parker, featuring a baby wearing its glasses! Just look at the number of likes it earned. 

featuring a baby wearing ugc instagram

  • Requires less spending – Unlike ads or fancy visuals, UGC content doesn’t require you to spend much. You simply need to request customers to share authentic content that shows them using your product or service. Even if you offer incentives like promo codes or discounts, it will cost you less than paid marketing.   

Also Read:- How to Edit SocialMedia Posts?

  • Boosts trust70% people trust consumer reviews they see online before deciding to buy something. What does this mean? People trust other people when it comes to trusting a brand. Hence, UGC is a great way to earn customer trust on Instagram, as this Glossier post shows. Viewers can easily imagine how the lip gloss will look on them.

Glossier post on instagram

  • Ignites desire for your brand – Here is one of the best user generated content examples that show how you can inspire serious wanderlust in viewers. This Instagram post from Destination British Columbia sparks desire for the brand or its image! Since the content is generated by actual tourists, the authenticity seals the deal.

instagram content is generated by actual tourists

  • Encourages loyalty, community feeling and aspirations – By getting multiple customers to share their product or brand experience through images or videos, you can promote a feeling of oneness on your Instagram. Equiboodle does this very well, for instance. Such UGC posts inspire aspirations in others and boost the loyalty of existing customers. 

ugc content equiboodle

How to generate and use UGC content on Instagram? 

If you are wondering how to start sourcing user generated content, the good news is that Instagram offers you plenty of creative yet simple options. Here are the best methods:

  • Just ask for it – Simply posting a question can motivate your followers to share posts that show them using your product. They will not only tag you, but also feel valued for being featured. Check out American Eagle’s direct and minimalistic approach here. 

Instagram American Eagle

  • Go for a unique hashtag trend – Come up with a unique hashtag that grabs eyeballs quickly and ask followers to share images or videos that show how they are using your product to match the hashtag. The hashtag should go well with your brand image or voice. Make sure you promote the campaign via emails, your website, and even YouTube videos, so that people know which hashtag to use while building their story around your brand or product. Starbuck’s #redcupcontest is a cool example. unique hashtag
  • Seek help from micro-influencers – Even if you are a small business, you can try and find micro-influencers who are willing to share content based on your products or services. For instance, if you run a small but exclusive bakery, reach out to a well-known food blogger in your area to showcase your goodies. Or, if you are a real estate agent, contact clients you have helped to sell homes, and request them to share their experiences. Offering incentives like discounts on the next purchase, free products or a free consulting session might do the trick. Here is an awesome user generated content example for this.  

instagram micro influencers

  • How about a contest – A caption, design or photo contest can do wonders for your Instagram marketing strategy. Keep it simple so that most of your followers feel driven to participate and share content. Check out how this contest grabs attention by promising a GoPro camera to the winner. The hashtag is crisp and the text at the bottom clearly states the steps of the contest. 

contest on instagram

More tips to use UGC on Instagram

Apart from using the UGC Instagram content that the above tips generate, here are some other things you can do. Also remember that users who create the content will tag you on Instagram or allow you to share their contribution in your Instagram stories. Here is a look at the different ways in which top brands share their UGC:

  • Reshare genuine and positive content – If real people are sharing authentic and impressive content about your products without any prompting from you, repurpose it and reshare. The best part is that you don’t have to pay anyone to say good things about you, this way. See how Ariana Grande aces it.

Ariana Grande ugc content

  • Share glowing testimonials or reviews – There is nothing like a good review to pump up your brand image and build confidence in your potential customers. So, post awesome reviews or testimonials on Instagram and request the contributor to share an image or video as well. Visual will enhance the impact of the review. For instance, this review of Garnier’s SkinActive Rose is absolutely share-worthy.

Garnier SkinActive instagram

  • Do it for a good cause – These days, many consumers, especially from the millennial generation, are conscious about the environment, helping less-privileged people, caring for animals and so on. So, if you can get UGC Instagram posts that connect your brand or product with a noble social, economic or ecological cause, go for it. This will boost your brand’s image by leaps and bounds and show customers that you are not just another business that only cares about the moolah! Check out how Hydro Flask shared a user post showing their product against a beautiful natural backdrop. The post addresses how these flasks can help reduce the amount of single-use plastic in circulation. 

Hydro Flask ugc content

  • Post just for inspiring or spreading smiles – The thing about using UGC on Instagram is that, you can simply post a good picture or video even if you don’t have much content to go with it. It can be an image that gives hope, sparks a conversation, or makes people smile or go “awww”.  All it has to do is impact your target audience. Here is a wonderful example from GoPro that inspires people to seek adventure and explore new places. 

inspiring or spreading smiles ugc content

  • Use ads to promote your UGC content – While using UGC on Instagram can be a great way to bring in organic (or free) traffic, you can spend a little money to improve their visibility and reach. Facebook or Instagram ads can help you connect with more potential customers and boost engagement, for higher conversions. 

Also Read: Social Media Management Strategies During Times of Crisis


Keep these points in mind before you get started 

If you want your customers to share their thoughts and experiences about your brand, you have to go about it the right way. Focusing on the customer relationship, being respectful and maintaining transparency about how you will use the user generated content important. Here are a few pointers that will help:

  • Seek permission before sharing UGC – Even if a follower has tagged you in a post that you want to reshare or repost, ask for permission first. Send a direct message and save the approval screenshot to avoid any future hassle or legal trouble. You can also add a legal disclaimer while posting UGC. 

ugc content need permission

  • Thank and give credit – Show appreciation on the user’s original post so that they feel acknowledged, special, and feel the need to reciprocate by buying in future from you. While resharing the post, tag the user to give due credit. You can use #rg to indicate regram, or write image courtesy of @. Or, keep it short by using a camera with flash emoji, like Rosemont Media did. This is a great way to nurture customer loyalty. 

give credit for ugc

  • Track your UGC to make the most of them – Try and create a Google spreadsheet and use different columns to jot down who shared what and when. Reserve a column for the campaigns for which you wish to use the UGC. You should also track the kind of response each UGC piece is getting, so that you know what works the best. 

To wrap up 

So, you understand how user generated content on Instagram is the key to building customer trust in your brand, improve user awareness and engagement, and even drive conversions. Just keep in mind the different creative ways in which you can source and use such content and gain maximum benefits. Make sure you thank the users and appreciate their efforts to keep such content flowing in the future too.

About The Author

Payel Mukherjee

Payel dreams about travelling the world and relaxing in quaint beach cafes – when she is not helping brands find real growth through powerful content experiences. She loves waging the war against mediocre content marketing and is passionate about entrepreneurship and startups. She is also a Darjeeling tea junkie and the founder of Justwords.

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What a wonderful post. Thank you for sharing this kind of information. I am happy you found the blog helpful.

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