User-Generated Content on Instagram: A Gold Mine for Growth Marketers

Instagram has become one of the most prevalent platforms for businesses to express their brand personality, engage with their audience, and drive popular campaigns. But aside from carefully curated content and sponsored posts, there’s another element that yields significant power not to be ignored: User-Generated Content (UGC).

Industries across the board—be it fashion, food, tech, or travel—have tapped into the goldmine that is UGC, leveraging the powerful impact it has on consumers. So, what is it that makes UGC an invaluable resource for growth marketers? This comprehensive exploration seeks to answer precisely that.

Understanding User-Generated Content (UGC)

User-Generated Content (UGC) is any form of content— such as images, videos, text, and audio—that has been posted by users on online platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. It’s organic, unsolicited and inherently social, making it a highly authentic form of endorsement for brands.

Benefits of UGC on Instagram

Authenticity and Trust

User-generated content is perceived to be more authentic than brand-produced content. Research by Olapic found that 76% of consumers say UGC feels more honest than branded content. This perception can lead to increased trust and credibility, powerful drivers for loyalty and sales.

Enhanced Engagement

UGC not only encourages interaction with the content itself, but it also instigates dialogue about your brand—one user’s post might inspire another user’s comment, launching a cycle of engagement.


As a marketer, you cannot ignore the fact that UGC is cost-effective. It saves time and resources that may have been spent creating content, broadens content diversity, and the efforts lead to a reliable pool of readily available content.

Strategies for Unlocking the Potential of UGC

Here are six key strategies that will help brands maximize the benefits of UGC.

1. Encourage UGC

Begin by encouraging your followers to create and share content related to your brand. This could be as simple as asking users to share a post using a branded hashtag or encouraging followers to share selfies with your product. You can also consider hosting contests or giveaways, where followers are asked to create and share content to participate.

2. Proper Attribution

When re-sharing UGC, always ensure that you give appropriate credit to the original creator. This is crucial not only for legal reasons but also as a show of respect to the user who created the content.

3. Sharing UGC

Once you’ve gathered a selection of UGC, consider creating an Instagram Story or a UGC-highlight reel — a designated space on your profile to showcase customer testimonials and product reviews.

4. Retailer Collaboration

Brands can partner with retailers to create shoppable UGC posts. When customers can see how real users interact with a product and then have the option to purchase that same product directly, it significantly shortens the customer journey.

5. Implement a Brand Hashtag

A specific, brand-related hashtag can become your brand community’s identifier. Loyal customers will use it, potential customers will browse it, and your brand gains a dedicated stream of UGC.

6. Leverage UGC in Ads

Once you’ve tested which UGC performs best organically, consider applying the top performers to your Instagram advertising efforts. Ads featuring UGC can outperform traditional ads-offering potential for higher ROI.

UGC Success Stories

Brands have found creative and unique ways to incorporate UGC into their Instagram marketing strategy. Here are a couple of examples:

GoPro, the action camera company, uses its hashtag #GoPro to motivate customers to share their adventure-filled snippets captured with GoPro cameras. Their Instagram feed is almost entirely UGC, showcasing real-life, thrilling experiences of real customers.

Aerie, a popular retailer of intimate apparel, launched the #AerieREAL campaign, promoting body positivity and self-love. They encouraged their users to post unedited photos of themselves in Aerie products, leveraging UGC to drive home their brand message of authenticity and inclusivity.


UGC is a unique yet compelling approach to marketing on Instagram that boosts social proof, deepens customer relationships, and promotes community-led growth. It’s affordable, scalable, and powerful in reaching and influencing an audience. For growth marketers, capitalizing on user-generated content can be the deciding factor in establishing the brand’s prominence and popularity in a crowded social media landscape. Even amidst Instagram’s continuous evolution, UGC remains an innovative strategy that spearheads genuine customer engagement, loyalty, and ultimately growth.

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