User-generated content (UGC) includes any type of content that is created by individuals (like customers), rather than a brand or business. Images, videos, testimonials – these are all examples of what can be considered UGC.
As more and more brands are becoming aware of how useful UGC can be in their social media strategy, we want to shed some light on how to effectively use this content on Instagram!
Words: Adriana Thani
Why you should share user-generated content
UGC is an excellent example of how social proof can create a sense of trustworthiness and credibility for your brand. Social proof refers to the phenomenon of influence, where people are more likely to take action when they’ve witnessed others do the same. Basically, if you show that people are buying your products (and are loving them), it can influence others to want to buy the product as well.
We’ve also mentioned before how important it is for you to show up on your Instagram, because people connect more to the experiences of real people. This authenticity is the ultimate currency in today’s social media climate, and sharing UGC is a big part of that. You’re saying, “these are real people who love our products/services – maybe you will too.”
In the same vein, UGC can go a long way in inspiring brand loyalty and building a community around your brand. Sharing UGC is an excellent way to speak the language of your customer base, and demonstrates that your brand is willing to connect to them on a deeper level.
UGC is also useful in selling a lifestyle, which is the most holistic approach to marketing on Instagram. Too often, we’ve seen brands focus only on the hard sell – endlessly promoting their products and services. Unfortunately, this isn’t the kind of thing that resonates with social media users!
Which brings us to our next point: UGC is such an excellent way to spark engagement on your social media. Think about it – if a brand were to feature your content on their Instagram feed or Stories, wouldn’t you want to share that fact with your own followers?
So now that brand has tapped into your audience, for whom it may be the first time encountering that brand. But your followers immediately feel connected to that brand due to the social proof provided by this featured Instagram user they’ve been following!
Last, but certainly not least, UGC has been shown to directly influence purchasing decisions. Here’s a fact for you: 90% of shoppers’ purchasing decisions are influenced by UGC. That is not a small number!
So if you haven’t been utilising UGC to your advantage, what are you waiting for? Read on to find out exactly how you can use UGC as part of your Instagram marketing.
How to share user-generated content on your Instagram
1. Collect and curate UGC
There are a few different ways you can begin sharing UGC on Instagram, but first you actually need to collect the UGC! Here are a few easy ways to do it:
- Create brand and campaign hashtags to make it easier for users to share content. Regularly review these hashtags so you can find UGC to use.
- Check your tagged photos frequently, as many Instagram users like to use this function.
- Host a photo contest to encourage users to share content – make sure they use a specific content hashtag!
- Seek out brand representatives and ambassadors, who act as influencers for your brand
2. Choose UGC that gels with your brand
If you’re wondering exactly how to choose UGC to share, always focus on sharing content that is in line with your content pillars and aesthetic.
You should also make sure that the user shares your brand’s core values – you don’t want to be caught out sharing content from an Instagram user that does not stand for what you believe in! A quick look at the most recent posts on Instagram is a good indicator on whether or not they reflect your values.
You should also consider sharing content from users that have a similar audience to your target market. They don’t have to be mega influencers with a million followers – brands have had great success with micro-influencers with followerships of 50,000 and under. Again, what’s important is what they stand for and how much influence they have on your target demographic.
3. Share UGC on your Feed
Your Instagram feed is the most obvious place to showcase UGC, but you need to be sure that the UGC you choose actually suits your brand aesthetics and messaging. Re-posting UGC is also a great way to break up your feed a little bit, so we recommend trying for at least one or two UGC posts a month.
You should also think about whether or not you’ll share their captions. What we’ve seen many brands do is share the user’s captions as a quote, then adding a few words of their own after. It’s a good way of making sure you’re a part of the narrative.
4. Share UGC on your Instagram Stories
So what should you do if you like a UGC but it doesn’t suit your aesthetic? Well, you can always share those posts on your Stories and tag the user accordingly! This is a fantastic way of showing them some love without jeopardising your thoughtfully curated feed.
Another way to make your Instagram stories more brand-specific is to share those UGC within your branded Instagram Stories template. This simply makes the content a bit more cohesive with your existing branding, especially if you plan on saving them onto your Highlights (which you should!)
5. Saving UGC in your Highlights
Highlights are a useful way of saving UGC for potential customers to sift through when they’re making a purchasing decision. Putting them all in one place, and sharing only the best UGC that really connects to what you’re doing, makes it so much easier for customers to make decisions. And everyone appreciates a brand that puts their convenience first!
When creating highlights, you should think about making them relevant to your customers. For example, you can categorise them based on a theme. For example, if you’re a boutique, you can create separate Highlights for each seasonal collection. If you’re a service provider, maybe you could create Highlights for customer reviews, useful tips and tricks, and your blog posts.
The key thing is to make your Highlights make sense in a way that is specific to what you do and what your customers are looking for! And create lovely Highlight covers for them while you’re at it.
Useful tips and tricks for user-generated content
1. Consent is key!
Always make sure to ask permission from the user and be clear on how you’ll be using their UGC. Alternatively, you can set a clear disclaimer in your profile for the use of your brand or campaign hashtag: “By using this hashtag, you are giving permission for us to share your content.”
2. Give credit where it’s due
You must credit the content creator when sharing UGC. Simply tag them in your Instagram post or Story. This will also alert them to the fact that you’ve featured them on your Instagram, which gives them a chance to share that fact with their followers!
3. Create a collection
Remember how we told you to review your hashtags and tagged images? Make sure you save those posts all in one place, along with their captions and other related info (like the profile name).
4. Plan ahead
Always plan ahead! When you plan your content sharing ahead of time, you can easily find opportunities for you to share your UGC. Apps like PLANN offers an amazing content blocking and calendar tool to help you plan your Instagram strategy.
5. Reach out
If you find that certain UGC tends to spark an extraordinary amount of engagement with your audience, share more content from that user! Reach out to them and consider engaging them as a brand representative or ambassador.
Create a memorable Instagram experience
Your audience wants to feel like they can connect with you, and sharing UGC is a great way to show that you care about your customers. It allows you to feature real people who are happy with your product and services, and this word of mouth is priceless in a world where influence is king!
If you are feeling overwhelmed with the work that goes into creating an unforgettable Instagram experience for your followers, we’re here to help! Our Instagram Management Packages allow you to focus on building your business, while still having a beautiful and engaging Instagram presence.