Three steps to growing your Instagram business with user-generated content

  |   branding, Marketing ROI, social media, social media marketing   |   No comment

In the past, Instagram was social network of choice when it came to posting selfies with cool filters. But the network’s image is transforming into that of a into a giant e-commerce platform which you can use to promote your own product, service, or business.

To promote your business, you need lots of one thing: Viewers. And you need not just viewers to visit your Instagram page, but those who who are willing to like, comment, and click on your website link.

So how do you get those followers? One proven technique is to begin sharing user-generated content. Generally speaking, this involves using the best-of-the-best content created by people using your products or service (with credit, of course) and posting it to your own account in order grow your following.

One company who utilized a UGC strategy saw an increase in followers of 60 percent in just three months! The reason? Brands who utilize user-generated content are more memorable to social media users. They are more trusted by consumers. By tapping into user experiences, brands can become more relevant, more valuable and deliver more of what their customers want.

Here’s how you can find, utilize, and share user-generated content that will gain followers, drive engagement, and ultimately grow your business.

#Locate it on your own with brand-generated hashtags. 

Create a following that’s truly unique by creating and sharing a brand-generated hashtag. This works for two reasons: One, it gives your audience an easy and accessible way to submit their photos to you. Two, it gives you the chance to create a unique voice and social angle for your profile.

For example, outdoor clothing and lifestyle brand REI created the hashtag #OptOutside to encourage their followers to get outside, do something adventurous, and snap a photo. Obviously, this is a winning strategy for REI, since it accomplishes the twin goals of locating quality user photos while showcasing REI as a brand that cares about more than just selling clothes (i.e., camping with family or hiking instead of going Black Friday shopping.)

#Search for it in other places with a photo-sharing contest. 


Think your brand or product is too boring to market on Instagram? Think again. Even bland old office supplies can have a creative Instagram strategy; just ask Sharpie.


What Sharpie and other companies have done in the past is to sponsor a photo-sharing contest to encourage their followers to share photos of them using their product. In Sharpie’s case, this means photos of skin, art, costumes, cups, dishes, and iPhones all covered in Sharpie drawings.


You could also sponsor a giveaway of your product where you make up the rules for the winner. For example, beauty subscription service Birchbox asks followers to like their contest photo and tag two friends to be entered in the giveaway. You could also ask fans to share their personal stories of using your product and why it means so much to them.

#Share it with your followers. 

Once you’ve identified some awesome UGC, you need to get permission from the original owner to share the content. Usually, Instagram direct messaging works best. A simple request is usually fine. Something to the effect of:

“Hi there! We noticed your Instagram account includes a great photo of [blank.] If you’re up for it, we would love to feature your photo and your story on our Instagram account. Of course, we will give you full credit and tag you in the post if you’d like! Thank you so much and we at [blank] look forward to hearing from you!”


Remember that, despite its casual appearance, it’s still important to remain professional on social media.

Final facts to know about Instagram marketing


Almost 9 out of 10 millennials agree that brands should get consumers like them to give opinions before creating new products, according to a recent study by Ispos. They want and they expect brands to put them first.


“Millennials get satisfaction knowing that their opinion matters, that it is important and that it has an impact on a product,” says Menaka Gopinath, President of Ipsos North America. “The companies that take this into consideration will be the winners.”


Are you ready for a winning Instagram strategy? Call us at 303-353-4354 to schedule a Stern storming session and find out how we can make your Instagram business grow with user-generated content.

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