How to Encourage Instagram User-Generated Content

Building an audience for your small business takes time and effort. Today, social media is one of the best and most effective ways to find your tribe and engage with them directly.

Once there, you may find this audience is already talking about you. This is called user-generated content, or UGC, and it’s gold for any brand looking to build an audience. UGC is considered the most authentic form of content because there’s no sale behind its creation, and Instagram user-generated content holds the biggest potential of all.

Your audience still trusts other users more than they trust your brand. Others are more likely to listen when it’s not the brand itself shouting about how great it is.

Why is UGC important on Instagram?

Whatever you’re into, you’ll find people with similar interests on Instagram. These are the people you want creating content for you.

UGC can increase engagement, and this is critical to your success on Instagram — the more users that engage with your posts, the better prioritized your posts are in the feed.

Many users are twice as likely to share Instagram user-generated content, too, giving you more reason to put the time and attention into encouraging UGC.

How can you encourage Instagram UGC?

Once you’ve got your Instagram for business profile set up, try one (or all) of these.

1. Hold a competition

Everybody loves a good competition, right? Encourage UGC by offering a prize for the best photo featuring your product. Ask people to share a post using a special hashtag and to tag in a few friends. It not only increases your UGC, but it also helps spread the word to people who might also like your product but aren’t yet using it.

2. Harness the hashtag

Create your own hashtag (research to make sure no one else is using it first), and ask your audience to post using it. Make sure you include the hashtag in your bio, too, and give clear direction on the sort of content you’re looking for.

Using hashtags

3. Get involved in a cause

Sometimes, a social cause aligns so perfectly with your brand that it just makes sense — like with lingerie brand Aerie and its #AerieREAL hashtag celebrating non-airbrushed bodies. Create a hashtag that makes sense for both the campaign and your brand, and then ask your users to get involved.

4. Include the posts on your website

Instagram user-generated content can help boost your own website’s content, too. Create a picture wall or write blog posts around your campaigns, and embed relevant user posts on your site.

Instagram URL for embedding images

Build advocates and encourage influencers

Before embarking on a user-generated content adventure, make sure you set plans and goals. Think about the compelling stories your users have to tell and how you can encourage them to share. Then, when you’re ready, set off on the path and choose a strong hashtag, ask for content, give incentives, and get your website involved.

Instagram user-generated content can help your small business to build a community of influencers who love your brand, but remember to give credit to the users for their content — it’s best to ask permission first — as a way to give kudos and make them feel appreciated.

And make sure you add a link to your website in your Instagram bio to help drive traffic — along with building a community, that’s the end goal for your business.


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