How User Generated Content Rapidly Accelerates Your Instagram Growth

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Finding great Instagram content a few times is easy: Finding great Instagram content consistently, over the long term, can be very challenging. That's why we love to explore new ways of using Instagram and finding the best subjects for pics and video – to keep the interesting content coming.

But for those times when your well is running a little dry, we suggest turning to user-generated content: These are photos and videos that other Instagrammers take of your brand or products, which you can use on your own Instagram feed to garner new interest. Here's how it's done.

Step 1: Find Invested Fans

The word "fans" isn't a perfect term, especially for B2B companies, but it does indicate what you should be searching for: People who are devoted enough to your brand to post their own Instagram pictures including your products. Fortunately, this doesn't require obsession over your products. It could be people who are proudly posting pictures of a completed project or building, for example. Look specifically for:

  • Partners and clients you already follow. What are they posting about? Is it anything related to your brand?
  • Hashtags and keywords: Run a few Instagram searches for popular tags that you have used in the past, or that are associated with your brand.

Step 2: Find Great Pics (and Get Creative!)

Once you find posters who are in your industry and referencing your brand, take a closer look at the content they are posting. Are there high quality videos and photos you can use? Anything that specifically calls out your company or value offerings?

It's important to remember that posts don't need to feature something directly related to your brand. Take a look at Hubspot's excellent collection of brands using user-generated content, and you'll note that several use very indirect images. Some choose posts that focus on how the company is enabling businesses or people far downstream from their actual operations. Others eschew brand connections and post cute puppy pictures. You have a lot of room here, so consider your own brand's voice, and what could fit in.

Step 3: Get Permission and Repost

If you don't have any connection with an Instagrammer that you like, send some invites and follow each other. Even if you are already connected, drop them a line about sharing their post before you do so. When you are ready, schedule the repost with your own brief message, preferably with a CTA.

Step 4: Monitor and Wait

User generated content isn't just about filling up your feed when you are out of ideas: It's also about increasing traffic by tapping into other audiences and encouraging more social interactions via a different perspective. This approach really does work, but you should also monitor the social signals of your repost and compare them with your Instagram data. Give it at least a few days before you make the final call on how successful the post was.

Step 5: Incorporate More User Content

One of the things that makes user generated Instagram content different from, say, partnering with a marketing influencer, is that you aren't just borrowing content from one source: Any of your followers can supply new photos to use!

It's a good idea to spend a little time investigating new content and seeing if anyone else has made recent brand-related posts that you can use. Keyword and hashtag alerts can be enormously helpful here, but you can also find potential posts by searching Instagram for brand and product names. You can keep a bank of potential Instagram photos to share, but keep in mind that you don't want to wait too long. Ideally, it's best to repost a day or two after the content goes live: That way the user's audience is still invested, and it probably still has good visibility.

If the whole process was a success, consider scheduling user-generated content for once a week or so. If you make it a long-term endeavor, you can help build your own Instagram community, which may lead to further opportunities in the future!

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Emily Oswalt

As social media manager at 21 Handshake, my passion of social media shines through to bring awareness to your brand. From the latest hashtag trend to engaging influencers, my desire is provide the best content to get your target audience talking online.