We’ve talked lots about content creation. It can be hard, especially on visual platforms like Instagram. We know it is important but it can be time-consuming, and difficult to produce as a business. Today we’re talking all about user generated content on Instagram, how to source for it and share it to your account easily. User-generated content can be an amazing way to share valuable content with your audience, showcase customer stories and connect with your audience. Stick around until the end because we’ll also be sharing some of the common mistakes you don’t wanna make!

What is UGC?

Before we dive into how to take advantage of user-generated content, let’s quickly break down what exactly it is. User-generated content is also referred to as UGC. It is simply content created by other people that is about your product, service or brand. On Instagram, you may be tagged in, mentioned in, or sent the content created by somebody else. It’s usually your customers creating the content, but it could be potential customers, or your audience in general. 

Why You Should Use UGC

So, why should you use UGC? First of all, it’s content you don’t have to create. Someone else does the work, and you get to add it to your content calendar. Second, it shows your brand from your customer perspective, not yours. This can be more validating, and trustworthy to your audience. 

So, now that you know what it is, how do you determine what makes good UGC content for your brand? When the content matches your brand tone, style and colours, that’s a winner. And when the content highlights the benefits, or positive aspects of your brand, you definitely want that. 

UGC Examples

Two of my favourite examples that use UGC are GoPro, and The Love Bomb Co. GoPro utilises 100% UGC in their Instagram strategy. They don’t create a single piece of content and yet, the whole feed is cohesive, on-brand, and speaks to the power of their audience. The Love Bomb Co. is another favourite because she only has a few products, but her audience takes amazing and relevant images that showcase her product in relatable environments that make the product a must-have. While these are highly visual brands and products, the principles are still largely the same, even if you have an info product. 

How to Find UGC on Instagram

You may be wondering now, how can you create and find user-generated content? On Instagram, if you use a branded hashtag, take a look at that hashtag regularly to see what content people are creating about your brand. An example of a branded hashtag might be #jennstrends or #smmw20.

Your customers will often @mention you, so you’ll have an immediate notification that someone created content about your brand. You may also wanna use a social listening tool that will source for your brand name, mentions or hashtags across social media to find content that people are creating. But how do you get your audience to create more UGC content for you?

How to Get Customers to Create Content

You definitely want to encourage your customers to share about your brand using your branded hashtag. You could include the hashtag and/or your username on receipts or packaging with a little reminder to post to Instagram and to tag you. If you have a physical location for your business, you can have signage or even selfie stations set up to encourage people to take photos and tag you. You can also run contests or giveaways with UGC as an entry requirement to qualify. 

How to Properly Share UGC on Instagram

So, now, you’ve got people creating content, let’s talk about how you can properly share UGC on Instagram. Basically, you have to get written permission first. If you don’t, you could get sued for any revenue proven to be generated by that post.

For a feed post, you can ask for permission via a comment on their post or send them a DM. Let them know you like the post, and you would like to share it to your account. Then ask, “Do we have your permission to use it?” Once you have permission, you can post it to your account, but you should still @mention and/or tag the original creator. Sharing stories is a bit of a gray area, but considered safe because it retains the original content in the share. So explicit permission isn’t required in the same way, but we still encourage it!

Now, let’s quickly talk about some of the tools that you can use for sharing UGC in both stories and the feed. For the feed, there are a number of free apps that are for reposting. These snag the original post, image and caption and allow you to post to your own profile. These also add a watermark with the original account’s username. Screen capture is more and more common and actually easier than most reposting tools. This is perfectly acceptable as long as you have permission and still tag the original user.

As for stories, there’s the built-in sharing feature that allows you to share stories that you were tagged in directly to your own stories. If you weren’t tagged in the story, it’s not easy to simply repost that story to your own. Or you would have to do a screen grab of the photo or the video, and you would have to get explicit permission from that content creator again in order to post it since you’re not using the native in-app sharing tool. Really, it comes down to using common sense when resharing. 

UGC Mistakes to Avoid

But there are a few things that even savvy marketers might accidentally do, so as promised, here are some common mistakes I see that you should avoid when sharing UGC on Instagram. 

Make sure you stay on-brand. Edit colours or add filters if needed to match your account aesthetic. 

Don’t share things that do not align with your brand’s voice, tone and style. 

Be wary of sharing posts with children, unless your brand is targeting parents of children. Many parents don’t like the idea of their children’s images being shared online publicly. 

If content includes alcohol, or any other controlled substance, make sure you have confirmation that everyone in the post is over the legal age of use. 

You’ll wanna get this in writing in addition to the permission to repost. And really, if you are in doubt about resharing a certain piece of content, you can always DM the original content creator to see if it is okay! But generally, if people are tagging you, they should be open to it being shared. 

Finally, don’t reshare everything, but be selective in choosing the right content that works for your brand!