How to make the most of user generated content on Instagram

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Your customers play a wide variety of roles in your business, and one of the most important is that of a content creator. Your customers are constantly creating content for you, from reviews to TikTok stitches to tweets about your brand. This is called user generated content, and it’s a genuine (and free) way to showcase your products and services. 

Content on its own works wonders, and you can also reuse it (with permission) on your website, social media , or anywhere else you need fresh content. We have found that the most powerful platform for consuming user generated content is Instagram : It has helped us acquire new customers, build trust and connect with current customers. 

Many of your clients are also on Instagram and some of them are probably already posting about your business. 

Those who don’t can be nudged into doing so, which will give you enough user generated content to showcase your company’s activities. 

So, here’s our guide to collecting, organizing, and sharing user generated content on Instagram. After a year of taking Instagram marketing seriously, including user-generated content, we get 8% of new customers from this platform. It costs resources to make it work.

Create a hashtag unique to your company

How to make the most of user generated content on Instagram

Large brands have the ability to create hashtags for specific products or promotions (in addition to the main one), but small companies must create a single hashtag to track all activity. It’s important to start with something manageable and measurable so you can see how the hashtag works. Creating a hashtag is easy: just put the # symbol in front of any word or phrase and it becomes a hashtag. #DoneAndDone. If you can get people to use it, then everyone who looks at that hashtag will see all the content you have posted about and about you. Some tips on how to come up with a hashtag:

  • Searching for your hashtag should return 0 results or close to it. You want to make sure people only see you when they click on the hashtag.
  • Your hashtag must include the name of your business. If your business name already has a hashtag, you can try business name + city — we did this with #businessCity — or business name + descriptive term.
  • Keep it short and easy to remember (and pronounce!).
  • Since there are no spaces in the hashtag, it is recommended that each word be capitalized when posting it for readability. (Note: hashtags are not case sensitive and will work with or without capital letters).
  • Search the hashtag on Facebook , Twitter , and TikTok to make sure it has no unintended use or history on those platforms. Ideally, the Instagram hashtag will be used on all of your social media channels .
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Promote your new hashtag

Now it ‘s time to get your shiny new hashtag going. It depends only on you how actively you will promote it. Some companies are just starting to add it to their posts and hope it catches on. Another option is to ask customers to use your hashtag – in emails, checks, ads, social media, or anywhere else. Some companies even offer incentives like discounts, gift cards , or free items for customers who use the hashtag. The more you promote your hashtag, the more valuable it will be, but you have to weigh your resource allocation yourself. Whatever you choose, here are some easy ways to get started promoting it.

Add a hashtag to your previous posts

On Instagram, you can go back and edit everything, including hashtags. So to jumpstart, go back and add a new hashtag to all of your company’s previous posts. This will get your hashtag out of 0 so there’s something to see if people search for it.

Ask people who have posted about your brand to add your hashtag

People love getting attention from a brand. Put yourself in your client’s shoes. How would you feel if your favorite company approached you directly? In addition, it makes the company more authentic and relatable, as it gives customers the opportunity to establish a personal connection with the brand. You can then develop those relationships in other ways as well. 

So: An easy way to promote your new hashtag is to find old posts. about your company or brand and ask the author (in the comments) to add your hashtag. 

What I usually say is something like this: “Wow, great photo – looks like the light was perfect that day. Thanks for posting this! We just created a new hashtag for our company and would like this photo to be featured on our hashtag. Could you add #hastag to this post? Thanks in advance! » Not everyone will do it, but many will be happy to interact. 

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We experimented with having people add our hashtag to their posts rather than asking them to tag us – it turned out to be much easier to get them to use the hashtag. Which, in general, is great, because then all of our user -generated content lives under the hashtag, and is not divided between the hashtag and the Starred Posts section .

Add a hashtag to your profile

Stick a hashtag on your Instagram profile and it will automatically become clickable. Exactly like this :

Add a hashtag to your profile

If you click on the hashtag on our profile, you will see all the pictures that people have posted about our company. This is the jackpot of user generated content, raw and unfiltered, that anyone can see.

user generated content

Put your new hashtag everywhere and tell people about it

Place your new hashtag along with the Instagram logo wherever you think shoppers will see it. At the checkout, on tables in restaurants, on bags or other packaging, the list goes on. But remember, you can’t just put something out into the universe and expect it to spread. When we first tried putting our hashtag signs on the vans, no one on our Grand Canyon tours paid any attention to them. But when we started pointing them out and asking people to use our hashtag on their photos, that’s when we started to see results. It is now part of our learning process to teach new hires to point to our hashtag and ask for it. It’s simple and it works. Try it.

Do more with your user generated content

You are already on your way to collecting great user-generated content. But when it is already there, what to do with it? Show it off! One of the best places to showcase user-generated content on Instagram is your Instagram feed. Pick the best posts from your clients and repost them. This has several advantages.

  • Posting user-generated content will make your brand more relatable as a real person is talking about you.
  • It will also increase the reach of your post. People love getting shared from a brand and will often like, comment or even repost your post.
  • This gives you a solid library of content to host. With a large supply of user-generated content, you can experiment more with other marketing efforts. And maybe even some time at the end of the day for video games? If you’re lucky.
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Just remember to ask permission from the original content creator first, either in the comments or via DM.

And when you repost, give them credit and even tag them. But Instagram user-generated content doesn’t just have to live on Instagram. Your site gets user generated content! Facebook Gets User Generated Content! Brochures get user-generated content! Oprah’s impressions aside, the options are endless. If Instagram has media or content that you think will help your business and be of interest to your customers and potential buyers, use it.

  • Cross-posting to Facebook or other social platforms (this can even be done automatically with Zapier ).
  • Take captions or comments that reflect your brand well and put them on brochures.
  • Take photos to put on your website or even your brand.
  • Link user-created videos together to create a DIY customer testimonial video.

The list goes on.

Making the most of your customer experience

Chances are your customers are already talking about you on social media. It makes sense that you should start using these conversations. Instagram is a great place to start due to its popularity, ease of brand engagement, and seamless hashtag integration . All of this makes it easy for your brand to make real, meaningful connections with your audience.

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