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What is User-Generated Content and How Do I Use it?

In a nutshell, user-generated content (UGC) is content that your followers or customers post promoting your business or brand. And no, it’s not a gimmick – UGC is genuine content that users post without being paid to do so. Let’s say you go to a coffee shop, snap a photo of the coffee you’re drinking, and upload it to Instagram. You might also tag the business account or the location of the business. You don’t do this because you were asked to or because someone paid you – you simply wanted to share your experience with your friends. That’s an example of user-generated content. People upload UGC all the time, mostly to share an experience. After all, that’s the point of social media. But UGC also promotes small businesses in the process. Let’s take a look at how you can use this content on your own account to boost your brand.

Why You Should Repost UGC

The benefits of reposting UGC are virtually endless. Here are just a few ways UGC can enhance your brand on Instagram.
  • Prove that real people use your product or service. A lot of people are paid to promote products on Instagram. Affiliate content and user-generated content are not the same thing. UGC is spontaneously uploaded, which means it’s genuine. While affiliate content marketing is another great way to promote your business, it’s better to repost genuine, free content than to pay someone else to promote your brand on Instagram.
  • Show your appreciation for your customers. When you repost UGC, you’re telling your customers that you’re engaged on Instagram, and that you appreciate their content. It also makes your customers and Instagram followers feel more confident. If their content is so good that you want to share it on your official business account, it must be high-quality.
  • Make your customers feel valued. Imagine your favorite clothing line reached out and asked you if they could repost one of your photos on their account. You’d feel pretty flattered, right? That’s exactly how your own customers will feel when you ask them if you can repost their content. Plus, it’ll likely give them a few new followers of their own.
  • Increase your customer reputation. The previous two points will work wonders for increasing your reputation among your customers. Your brand immediately becomes more trustworthy and human when you share UGC.
  • Attract new customers. Let’s say you own a restaurant, and one of your customers uploaded a photo of their meal to Instagram. You ask the customer if you can repost it, and they accept. You tag the original poster when you share the photo. Not only will your own followers see this, but the original poster’s followers will also see it. That means the shared content becomes available to a new audience. This will attract new followers and, hopefully, new customers.
  • Advertise effectively without hard-selling. The average person encounters more than 10,000 advertisements on a daily basis. A third of these come from social media. Stand out from a crowd that’s working too hard to hard-sell on social media. Repost UGC to humanize your brand.

Tools for Reposting UGC

The main drawback of Instagram is that it lacks a fluid way of reposting other people’s content. In a way, this is a good thing because it protects original content. But it also makes sharing UGC more difficult. Thankfully, there are some third party apps that allow you to share other people’s Instagram content on your own account. Here are some of our favorites.
  1. Repost
  2. Buffer
  3. Hootsuite
Many reposting services let users modify the original post. If you can’t be bothered to download a third-party app, you could always repost UGC the old-fashioned way – by taking a screenshot and uploading it to your account.

Tips for Reposting UGC

You might think sharing UGC just involves sharing. It’s actually a little more complicated than that. Follow these tips when sharing UGC to make sure you don’t get yourself in legal trouble.
  • Always tag the original poster. Technically, the original poster owns the content they’ve uploaded, even though it’s available to the public. You always need to credit the original poster. Not only will this protect you from legal problems, but it may also boost the original poster’s follower count. A win-win for everyone.
  • Don’t repost content from private accounts without getting permission first. Content uploaded to a public Instagram account is essentially public domain. It’s always a good idea to ask permission before sharing someone’s content. However, you must get permission to share content from a private account. This content is not made available on the public domain. If you don’t ask permission first, you may find yourself in a copyright infringement battle. Here’s a guide to copyright rules on Instagram.

  • Don’t repost UGC that is vulgar, offensive, or negative. This one is common sense. Only repost UGC that aligns with your business’s values and ethics.
  • Use UGC in your own original content. Videos are an excellent way of compiling UGC into an original post. You could make a testimonial video, or perhaps a customer appreciation video. This will earn maximum engagement and show your customers that you appreciate them.
  • Encourage your followers to use a single hashtag for all UGC. Create one hashtag and encourage your customers or Instagram followers to add it to their relevant UGC. This makes UGC easier to find and repost. Alternatively, you may want to encourage them to tag your official business Instagram account or your location.
Reposting user-generated content is one of the easiest ways for a business to promote their brand on Instagram. Not only does it make your business seem more trustworthy and human, but it also increases your reputation with customers. You can also earn more customers and Instagram followers because the content is available to a wider audience. When you ask to repost UGC, you’ll give your followers a confidence boost by assuring them their content is valued, and that you appreciate their patronage. Just make sure you know the legal repercussions of sharing private content or failing to credit the original poster.