July 14, 2014

For most businesses using Instagram as part of their marketing strategy, the ability to take advantage of user generated content (UGC) is a big reward. Chances are you've heard about using UGC on social media. But today I want to look specifically at how to utilize user generated content on Instagram.

In case, though, you aren't really familiar with UGC, here's a quick recap.

First of all, UGC is content created by your audience and customers. It is content that they have shared that showcases your business, brand, products, services, or their experience with these things.

It is easy to find, there's plenty of it out there, it's FREE, it gives you fresh content for your content strategy, and it recognizes and rewards your customers! It is also a more validated form of "marketing" since it's content coming from other consumers, not you, the business.

User generated content also helps you understand how your customers both view and use your products (or services). When you get to know what they like, how they use it, why they use it, and what their feedback is, you can better market and develop your business!

So, now that we've covered that, here is how you can utilize User Generated Content on Instagram to benefit both you and your customers!

Finding User Generated Content

Chances are people are talking about your business or your products on Instagram. I've written in detail previously about how to find out who's talking about you on Instagram.

In quick recap though, if you use specific hashtags for your business or products, search these on Instagram to see who's posting content with those hashtags. You also get notifications anytime someone tags you or @ mentions you in their content. Finally, you can search by location to see what content people are tagging with your business location.

Take advantage of all three ways to see who is mentioning you or talking about your products. All of these posts are your user generated content.

Sharing User Generated Content

One of the tricky things about Instagram is that it isn't inherently easy to share someone else's content. There are a few third party apps, however, that make this fairly easy to do.

I use the Repost app (available on both iOS and Android devices) to share photos to my account. And, yes, this app is free 🙂 You can also use Regram, PhotoRepost and other available apps. Iconosquare also has a Repost feature in their desktop site.

These apps allow you to include a watermark on the image, giving credit to the original account that shared the image first. You can often include their username and original post comment or other details when sharing the post.

Acknowledging Your Customers

Simply sharing their original post isn't necessarily enough to really acknowledge your customers. Instead, take the time to include their username in the comment description (as I mentioned, most repost apps will do this for you) as this ensures they receive a notification that you used their content.

I also recommend writing a brief description or note, thanking them for sharing their experience, in your comment. Let your audience know that you appreciate them by giving them a shout out!

Encouraging User Generated Content

If you really want to boost the amount of user generated content on Instagram that you can choose from, encourage your audience to create it!

Run contests or promotions that require entrants or customers to use certain hashtags or mention you on their posts. Monitoring the contest and posts will allow you to find and share great content on your account while rewarding your customers and prize winners.

Make it easy for users by having an easy to use, easy to remember hashtag associated with your brand, promotion, contest, or products. Advertise this hashtag and make it recognizable!

Most importantly though, just taking the time to recognize your customers via a share of their original post, can be more than enough reward for your customers - and it doesn't cost you anything to do! And the more often they see you sharing someone else's content, the more they'll be encouraged to share their own, in hopes of being the next shout out.

Frequency of User Generated Content

You're probably wanting to ask me now how often you should share UGC on your Instagram account. And, here, I can't give you that answer. It will depend on your business, your strategy, and your customers' content.

Some brands, like GoPro, make really good use of frequent UGC. Other brands, however, do really well with only one or two UGC posts a month.

Product-centric businesses, in general, have more UGC to choose from than service based businesses. But there are plenty of occasions where a service based business can repost content from their customers to best showcase the service they offer. You just need to find out what works for your business and your audience.

If your customers are taking the time to share your products, services, or company experiences, they deserve your gratitude. If they mention you or tag you in their photos, they're making it SO easy for you to find them. Reward them. And improve your account with fun, new perspectives on your business that the rest of your audience will appreciate.

Taking advantage of user generated content on Instagram is a win-win for you, your business, your employees, your customers, and your potential future customers. So get on it!

Did you find this helpful? Please share:
  1. Jenn, great article. I am getting ready to take on a new client with my first Instagram account! (I’ve tried to stay away…!) And using UGC is going to be a HUGE must (sports team). Thanks for this timely post. I went ahead and pinned it to my “Instagram Tips” PInterest board as well as I’ll be sharing it through Triberr.

    1. Thanks Dorien! So glad this was so timely for you 🙂
      And congrats on the new project/client! It sounds exciting and I hope you see great results.

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