How to Accelerate Your Instagram Growth With User-Generated Content

Examples, Facebook, How To's, Instagram, Tips

In November of 2010, a little app called Instagram turned one month old.

By December 2010, they amassed 1 million registered users.

In December of 2015, the app had 100 million registered users.

As of January 2018, the photosharing app boasted a massive audience of 800 million monthly active users.

It is clear there is a large, active audience on Instagram. But is it important for your brand to be active on the app?

The answer is: it depends.

First, ask these questions:

  • Does your target audience fall between the ages of 18 and 29 years old?
  • Do women make up a decent portion of your target audience?
  • Does your product/service lend itself to the visual medium?
  • Is your website in good shape?
  • Do you have a content marketing plan in place?

If you answered ‘yes’ to most of the above questions, there’s a good chance Instagram will be successful for your brand. If you answered no to two or more of the questions above, I suggest getting the rest of your online presence in shape before focusing on Instagram.

Why Should My Brand Use Instagram?

Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Flickr, Vine, Pinterest; there is a never-ending stream of social media sites your brand ‘needs’ to be on. It can get overwhelming — which is why we covered IF your brand should use Instagram before digging into the should.

So what sets Instagram apart for brands?

First, it is primarily a visual platform, unlike Facebook. This is an important distinction for many digital businesses.

Second, the Instagram algorithm is much more business-friendly than Facebook’s, where getting any kind of organic reach can be a struggle. While you can pay for ads on Instagram, you can still gain some traction without them.

Third, people expect to interact with brands on Instagram. They follow brands, they search for products to purchase, and they visit the sites of brands they like.

Facebook began as a place to connect with college friends, family, and old classmates. The business side came later, which some people still resent. Instagram, on the other hand, was created after the rise of social media marketing.

Instagram recently shared:

Over 80% of accounts on Instagram follow a business, while 200 million Instagrammers actively visit the profile of a business every day. As a result, the Instagram community is helping spur small business growth in big ways.

One of the other benefits of using Instagram is the ability to interact with your audience in an authentic way and create a community through user-generated content.

Boot and shoemaker Dr. Martens is a fantastic example of building a community and increasing brand reach through Instagram.

In fact, most of their Instagram feed is a curation of user-generated content they find through the #drmartenssytle hashtag.

The #drmartensstyle hashtag currently has over 75,000 posts.

How can you use user-generated content to grow your Instagram followers, even if you aren’t as big as Dr.  Martens? First, let’s talk about the different types of user-generated content, then we will get into the how.

What Are the Different Types of User-Generated Content?

User-generated content is any type of content created about a brand by users, not by the brand themselves. On Instagram, this might include comments on a post or a photo with a branded hashtag.

There are three main types of user-generated content on Instagram. They include:

  • Text: Comments on a brand post, comments on another user’s post that uses a branded hashtag, or captions on their own post.
  • Pictures: Sharing photos of brand products, with or without using branded hashtags. This can also be done through stories, but those have a limited reach by design.
  • Video: Sharing videos of up to a minute long including unboxing videos, short tutorials, or just showing off a new product they love.

Now that we’ve talked about what it is, why is user-generated content so effective?

There are two reasons:

  1. People trust other people more than they trust brands — even if they know those people from the internet and have never met them.
  2. User-generated content appears more organic and helps create conversations around your brand.

Let’s look at how to leverage user-generated content.

Strategies for Instagram Growth Through User-Generated Content

If you are ready to grow your brand’s Instagram reach, user-generated content is one of the most effective approaches. And one of the best ways to entice users to share their own content about your brand is through contests and giveaways.

Next, we look at strategies to ensure your contest gains traction.

Pair Up With Related Brands

Why should a customer choose your brand over your competitor? How does your brand solve a particular problem in a new way? Are there other brands that cross-over your target audience in a unique way? Crossover promotions can help your brand reach a much wider audience.

Take, for example, the country music radio station 100.7 FM The Tiger, out of Baton Rouge. One of the ways they stand out is by their name – The Tiger. They leveraged that connection by co-hosting a user-generated photo contest with a local doggie daycare.

This contest also taps into the deep connection people have with their pets, which increases the rate of engagement by targeting a specific subset of their audience.

Start a Conversation Around Your Brand, Not About Your Brand

When you think about sausages, you might not think about weddings. However, Johnsonville managed to tap into a very passionate, very niche market for their TailGate Wedding contest.

Die-hard football fans who are planning a wedding often struggle to find a date that doesn’t conflict with an important game – particularly during playoff season.

Johnsonville Sausages tapped into this first-world struggle by encouraging users to upload a video of themselves explaining why they should win a “one-of-a-kind, fully-equipped tailgate wedding.”

They also had former college football sweetheart Tim Tebow to record a video explaining the contest.

The important take away here is that Johnsonville is starting a conversation that is not just about their brand. It is about football and love — and, yes, also sausages.

Build Relationships By Resharing Content

Reposting content you find on another Instagram account is not only acceptable on Instagram, it is so popular it has its own word – regramming. Resharing content from users is a simple way to build relationships with your audience.

In 2016, Hotel Urban in Australia hosted a photo contest for tickets to see the Eurodance group Vengaboys.

They then reshared the photos from the contest winners from their social media accounts.

Resharing content (and tagging the original poster) helps you get the most reach out of user-generated content. It is exciting for the original poster and more likely to earn engagement than overly branded content.

Final Thoughts on User-Generated Content

User-generated content comes in many forms including photos, videos, reviews, and comments. This type of content can be used to create deeper connections, improve brand loyalty, and grow your reach on Instagram.

One of the most effective ways to encourage users to create their own content about your brand is through contests, like the ones in the examples above.

Are you ready to build your user-generated content campaign? Woobox’s UGC app lets you set up a contest that will engage users across multiple platforms and social channels. Create your free Woobox campaign now. 

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