Hugh Beaulac

8 Tips to Encourage User-generated Content on Instagram

By: Hugh Beaulac | January 10, 2018 | 

user-generated content

Did you know that 80 percent of what you view online is user-generated content?

Big companies such as Redbull, BMW, and Starbucks feel the pulse of marketing trends and can effectively leverage this.

And even though user-generated content is on the rise, it is difficult to achieve marketing goals if content creation by your customers isn’t part of your brand strategy.

Why User-generated Content?

These statistics prove that user-generated content is the future of internet marketing.

When launching these types of campaigns, concentrate on one social media platform for maximum results.

When choosing from the wealth of social media websites, Instagram is high on the list.

More and more brands are investing in Instagram marketing, and the platform has become popular for brand promotion.

Why So Popular?

Moreover, this report from L2 claims user-generated content works best for brands on Instagram.

Before you set up the campaign, think of proven ways to encourage user-generated-content creation.

The more people create content for you, the better.

But this requires time and effort to make them want to become a part of your community.

So, here are eight tips for marketers to consider.

Create a Sense of Belonging

Influencing consumer behavior is a common practice in marketing.

If you want people to do something for you, understand what drives them.

Know which psychological tricks can help you create a connection.

One of the greatest feelings for humans is the sense of belonging.

People want to be a part of something significant.

It is a fundamental need.

Building a sense of belonging requires time and effort, but the payoff can be huge for the brand.

If your brand has many admirers, it is likely you can get user-generated content from your audience.

For example, look at brands such as Starbucks — many cannot simply grab a Starbucks coffee without posting a photo of coffee in hand on Instagram.

This is because people feel the need to belong to the Starbucks community!

Improve Your Instagram Engagement

How do you convey to visitors that your Instagram profile is interesting enough, so they become a follower?


If people like, comment, or share your content, it means you produce something valuable.

It creates a sense of belonging, and people are more likely to become a part of a popular community.

High-quality content matters.

One of the best marketers in the world, Andrew Davis, said:

Content builds relationships. Relationships are built on trust. Trust drives revenue.

If you post material that satisfies customer needs, you will boost engagement on Instagram.

However, it will not be enough to increase the performance of your posts on the newsfeed.

So how do you increase engagement?

  • By posting fresh and qualitative content: publish relevant and eye-catching information.
  • Through interaction with your followers: like and comment on their posts.
  • Keeping up with trends: it allows you to reach more people.

Once you drive more engagement, you attract more followers and ultimately,  more people to create user-generated content for your brand.

Establish Contacts with Micro-influencers

Influencer marketing is flourishing on Instagram as 92 percent of people trust recommendations by individuals rather than companies.

Most brands know this, so they reach out to influencers for beneficial collaboration with an already-established community.

When choosing an influencer, marketers try to find a popular one figuring the larger following, the better.

However, having a lot of followers doesn’t necessarily mean higher engagement.

Collaborating with micro-influencers may be a better option as they can deliver a 60 percent higher engagement rate.

Moreover, they can be more cost-effective and loyal.

With micro-influencers, you can maintain good relationships and stand out from the competition.

Re-post Customer Content

Every marketer should know user-generated content can help earn trust, build brand awareness, and boost sales among customers.

Unfortunately, we fail to put customers first.

Only nine percent of the top 250 B2B brands place user-generated content on their product pages.

Although people create content at will, you need to reward those who produce quality content for your brand.

To encourage more content creation, you must show customers that their effort pays off by liking, commenting, and sharing their content.

However, to avoid damage to brand reputation, you will need to use user-generated content as you would copyright content.

Thus, always think about the original poster first.

How to repost content legally:

  • Ask for permission: if you want to feature a photo on your feed, contact the owner via comments or DM’s.
  • Give photo credit: add a comment to your post with the photo credit and tag the owner.

Customers crave recognition and approval, so make them feel valued.

Use Instagram Stories Highlights

Recently, Instagram launched two new tools—Stories Highlights and Stories Archives.

These allow users to group stories they have shared into highlights and feature them on the user’s profile.

The new features are an effective way to build a valued customer connection and showcase your business authentically, which means earning trust.

Here are some pointers for making the most out of Instagram Stories Highlights:

  • Create a user-generated content group: collect the best stories using customer content you have shared and highlight this group as permanent on your account.
  • Update the group: add stories to the group regularly.

It is not always possible to post all customer content on the main feed as it could slow traffic to your site.

When using Instagram Stories, you won’t need to worry about posting too much content.

Hold a Contest

If you want to encourage user-generated content creation, have an Instagram marketing contest.

Holding a contest is a great way to increase the number of user-generated posts.

To avoid any PR pitfalls, create and abide by the contest Terms & Conditions.

These rules will inform participants on how to take part and win the contest.

By running a successful contest on Instagram, you will engage your audience and inspire people to create future content.

Motivate User-generated Content Creation

If you want to encourage customers to do something beneficial for your brand, then you must reward them.

Offering a discount does not require much time or money, but it will motivate customers to take part and create content.

Handing out freebies is a great way to attract customer attention, motivate content creation, and build brand awareness.

Moreover, people love to share coupons and discounts with their friends and family, which means expanding your audience.

Integrate Offline and Online Marketing

Do you remember the ‘Share a Coke’ campaign run by Coca-Cola?

That campaign was one of the longest-running featuring popular names on Coca-Cola cans and bottles.

Customers bought Coca-Cola cans bearing their name to express themselves through personalization.

And it was effective, increasing sales by over two percent and millions of posts on social media.

So what did we learn from Coca-Cola?

That integrating offline and online marketing is a win-win situation, allowing marketers to reach more customers.


It is no secret that customers find user-generated content to be more authentic.

Most people feel this content is helpful in the decision-making process.

If you want your fans to create content for you, understand how you can encourage them to create content for your brand.

How do you encourage your customers to create content for your brand?

Please share in the comments below.

About Hugh Beaulac

Hugh Beaulac has been working as a social media manager for 4 years, so he believes in the power of social media. Hugh is also a content manager who runs the MC2 blog, and contributes to websites to share his knowledge. Find his works on Twitter.

  • Hi, Hugh! First, thanks for this. We love Instagram around here. I do have a question that I know lots of our readers will want to know…what about B2B? It’s easy to have user-generated content in consumer businesses, but what about a manufacturing business or an accountant?

    • Hugh Beaulac

      Hi, Gini!

      Obviously, B2B isn’t the same as B2C, but you can still encourage your partners.

      For example, you can run a contest with your product placement and offer a discount for all participants.

      Another idea is to organize an offline event for B2B partners and set up a photo zone with your brand logo. People love sharing photos with them, and your logo will spread a word about your company)

  • Great reminders, Hugh! Thanks for sharing. As with everything to be successful on any social network you have to care for your audience and be invested and interested in them.

    • Hugh Beaulac

      Corina, thanks for the collaboration and kind words! My pleasure to be here 🙂

  • Howie Goldfarb

    Hi Hugh! I want to help you improve your proposition!

    Being a stats and research hound you have not given me a reason to push instagram as a marketing or engagement platform. Not saying you can’t…I’m saying you haven’t.

    You also included hype and false stats based on biased research in your links. That Tap Influence paper is pure flight of fancy. Big red flag for me. Sorry. I have a finance degree the math fails to add up kind of like the BS tax reform we just had.

    92% of people might value personal referrals from people we know about buying (new stuff and expensive stuff). But for most purchases like 98.7% we don’t use much besides our head (we bought it before, it looks interesting, hell its only $5 if i hate it who cares). I have seen stats like this for almost 10 years now.

    Be very careful about inherent bias when it comes to social media. Even the Mainstream Media falsely projects the power of social media. If the main stream media never reported what Donald Trump Tweeted guess what? NO ONE would know what he was blabbering about. Only 9% of his followers are real/active. As a percent of the US his Twitter engagement rate is 0.01875% …..if I counted all his engagement within the US. So it is over stated at 1 in 10000 Americans engage with each tweet.

    I have studied Instagram and found very interesting insights on behaviors. But when it comes to participation and UGC it would be great to show some very current success stories and what they are doing.

    I will state that depending on what your aim is there is really only two ways to successful call to act UGC.

    1 is the right bribe. I find a vast crevasse between what users think they should get and brands think they should give to get an action. In reality Users want free stuff huge prizes and drop your shorts (all big margin killing no nos but they work for engagement even if ROI is often negative). What would be really helpful is a post on how to use A-B testing to find the right spot to get engagement with a bribe and the process to get there. And then you can use math to figure out if the investment will be worth it.

    Zutano in 2014 found $75 gift cards as their sweet spot.

    When I ran social for Chunk-n-Chip (2011-14) I would try to give away free gourmet ice cream sandwiches (Value $5) via trivia and get no one entering. Yet customers would drive through 45 mins of LA traffic to get one. Obviously a free one wasn’t the sweet spot but the Owner didn’t want to offer more.

    2 people need to feel cool and want to be part of something. Think ALS Ice Bucket challenge or in LA (The Beach Reporter) and in Vermont (Mad River Glen) people have photos taken in exotic places with the Beach Reporter or MRG bumper stickers. Both have been in the Himalayas. MRG has even been on the space shuttle! These people took action to be part of a cool club.
    But even for Brands of passion I find without the bribe engagement falls short.

    I bring these examples up because its great to tell people how they should act…..but they never do unless it significantly benefits them. Will you get me coffee each morning for a dime raise? What if I gave to $50k? If I gave you $100k what would you do?

    Encouraging is great but you need results or the CFO is going to spend money elsewhere.

    Yes I’m an old cranky man who knows to much and does too little or does to much and knows too little…. but seriously wants to help you rock it!