How to create authentic user-generated content to increase your Instagram followers and engagement

Posted by

Have you ever seen content made by actual individuals versus those professionally curated by brands on Instagram? You’ve probably noticed that both can have excellent quality.

But think about it, when you’re considering a purchase, which type of content do you tend to engage with more? Which type of content do you trust more to provide the most up-to-date solutions for your needs, ultimately leading you to hit that follow button?

In many cases, people find themselves more drawn to content created by real individuals, as it establishes a sense of trust.

It’s called UGC (User-Generated Content). In this article, we’ll explore more about UGC and how leveraging it can significantly boost your Instagram followers and engagement. Check it out!

How is user-generated content created?

People have been following and getting used to the increasingly savvy digital era these days, they have become adept at distinguishing between which content is genuine and real in social media.

Understanding this behavior is crucial for brands whose product or service offerings depend heavily on reviews or real-life testimonials. In such cases, adopting a user-generated content (UGC) strategy for your social media content isn’t a mere option; it’s a necessity.

In 2023, UGC has dominated the marketing landscape of its ability to convey authenticity and trustworthiness to consumers. Research from Statista has shown this trend since 2022, highlighting the impact of UGC on marketing strategies.

Their findings indicate that users’ likelihood of conversion increased by an average of 3.8 percent once they engaged with UGC. Yet, the impact didn’t stop there. When users actively participated with such content, their conversion rates skyrocketed by 102.4 percent.

Therefore it’s clear that UGC content in 2023 will positively impact real-life business and remarkably influence social media content creation.

Why Being Real Matters: The Power of UGC for Your Instagram Account

Being real can help build the most important factor in purchase decision-making — trust.

When users see content created by real people showing real firsthand experience, they are more likely to trust it. Why? Because they are looking for an honest third-party view of the product or services. The realness of the content helps present products or services in a way that feels genuine and important to them.

So yes, users are looking for realness that they are more likely to engage with and follow accounts that provide it.

This also can be seen in how almost the TOP most followed leading beauty brands used UGC content strategy.

In 2022, Statista released data on the leading beauty brands with the most followers on Instagram as follows :

  • Kylie Cosmetic
  • Anastasia Beverly Hills
  • Benefit Cosmetics US
  • NARS Cosmetics
  • Ulta Beauty
  • Bath Body Works
  • KKW Beauty
  • Beccacosmetics
  • Vult
  • Pat McGrath

We conducted a riset to understand how they achieved their success and if there were any commonalities among their content strategy.

Upon analyzing their social media content, I found that these brands effectively utilized User-Generated Content (UGC), contributing to their impressive follower count. Here’s a breakdown of the key UGC elements that can be seen based on their content that played a significant role in their Instagram success:

  • Authenticity
  • Social proof
  • Community
  • Trust
  • Human Touch

These aspects of UGC contribute significantly to the success of leading beauty brands on Instagram. Therefore, many of these brands leverage “genuine” influencer marketing or optimize their popularity, much like the Kardashian brand.

Even when comparing the top well-known public figures, such as Kylie and Kim Kardashian, there is a noticeable gap in follower count. This gap can be attributed to Kylie’s content incorporating more UGC elements, while Kim’s content is primarily promotional branded content.

You can notice a significant difference in engagement between promotional content and content created by actual users. User-generated content tends to drive higher engagement rates.

In conclusion, the utilization of UGC by top beauty brands on Instagram has proven to be instrumental in gaining a large number of followers & engagement.

This makes sense since people are aware that social media content often appears staged — more & more savvy social media users are increasingly able to identify the inauthenticity.

5 UGC Creation Strategies to Unlock Your Instagram Success

Yes, it’s already obvious that User-generated content (UGC) is all about the human touch — the unique content that real users share

But how exactly can you utilize UGC to boost your Instagram presence and success? Here are 5 UGC creation strategies :

1. Re-share user reviews from different platforms

Many platforms, like Google My Business, TripAdvisor, and Yelp, allow users to leave feedback in various formats — videos, photos, comments, and star ratings.

One effective UGC strategy is to gather reviews from these various channels and re-share them on Instagram.

This strategy also signals to your audiences on Instagram that your brand is trusted across different platforms, enhancing your overall reputation.

Here are some crucial points to keep in mind when re-sharing content from other platforms on your Instagram :

  • Keep It Real: Avoid over-editing! It’s important to keep the authenticity & realness from user reviews and show it on your Instagram.
  • Credit to the Original Source: When you re-share other platform content, be sure to give credit to the original source.
  • For example, you can do this by mentioning the business’s name and adding the Google My Business listing URL to your post

2. Collaborative user-influencer strategy

User influencer collaboration is a strategy where a brand motivates its customers to generate content revolving around the brand’s products or services.

This content can take the shape of photos, videos, blog entries, or social media posts. To inspire content creation, the brand may offer incentives like :

  • Discounts
  • Free Products
  • Free Service Demo
  • Or a chance to be featured on the brand’s social media channels.

But how is this different from traditional influencer marketing?

To make it easier to understand, UGC influencer marketing involves content created by the followers of the influencer, rather than the influencer themselves.

To make this concept more proper, find out the details in the following infographic:

One famous brand that used this strategy is Starbucks, where they encourage their users to make content by giving them a chance to get featured on their Instagram feed. This strategy not only provides exposure for the brand but has also led to significant engagement — one post alone garnered 45,000 likes!

3. Organize a community event

Hosting a community event is a fantastic way to foster user-generated content (UGC).

When individuals gather in a community setting, they tend to share their experiences and thoughts, leading to the creation of UGC-like photos and videos that can be featured on your Instagram.

Hosting community events can lead to dozens of content from people that come — using or demoing your product or service. This content could be tagged images, videos, or Instagram stories you can repost on your account.

And your brand can significantly benefit from their followers’ impressions, potentially attracting a new follower base to your Instagram account.

Here’s a guide on how you can stage an event that inspires users to generate UGC:

  • Encourage social media sharing: Make it convenient for participants to share their event experiences on social media. Provide free Wi-Fi, set up a social media wall, or give discounts or prizes to attendees who share their content.
  • Promote your event hashtag: Encourage people to use a specific hashtag when they share their content about your event. This will help you collect all of the UGC in one place and make it easier for people to find your content.

4. Q&A campaign session

Sometimes, encouraging your customer to create content and give their opinion about your product or service can be a little bit tricky, right?

So, why not directly invite them to share their thoughts?

User-generated content (UGC) covers any content created by users, rather than the platform itself. This includes photos, videos, stories, and indeed, Q&A posts on Instagram.

I mean, Instagram creates this feature for their users to share their thoughts and ideas.

By leveraging Q&A features, brands provide users a place to express their real thoughts, views, and experiences related to the brand.

This strategy can boost engagement, gather feedback, and foster a closer connection with your audience. And, of course, it creates content that genuinely comes from the users themselves.

Here are two types of questions you can use to optimize the Q&A feature on Instagram for UGC:

  • Experience-Based Questions: You can also ask questions about your audience’s experiences to get a better understanding of their thoughts and feelings on your product or service
  • Opinion-Based Questions: You can also ask questions about your audience’s opinions to get a better understanding of their thoughts and feelings, for example, your new product or service development.

Therefore to ask relevant and intriguing questions, you should keep yourself updated with the current trends in your industry, focusing on aspects positively related to your product or service.

5. Make a #Movement campaign

Initiating a #movement can enhance your user-generated content (UGC) strategy.

Introducing a hashtag linked to your brand or product can inspire people to create and share content about your brand

Therefore understanding your target audience is crucial to design a #movement campaign that resonates with your target audience and motivates them to participate.

Let’s take #ShareACoke as an example: Coca-Cola initiated a campaign called #ShareACoke. The campaign involved swapping the Coca-Cola logo on bottles with real people’s names.

The campaign was a resounding success, heavily promoted on social media platforms like Instagram, where customers were invited to share photos of themselves with personalized Coke bottles and cans using the hashtag #ShareACoke.

Even though Coca-Cola targets a broad range of customers, covering various socio-economic levels. But they know their primary target ranges from 10–25 years old, which is why this campaign mainly struck a chord with younger audiences.

The campaign was made to trigger a younger audience by making the product feel distinctive and exclusive, appealing to their sense of individuality.

It also had a limited edition, which generated a sense of urgency and enticed people to buy Coke bottles with their names on them. This strategy enhanced sales and invoked a sense of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) among consumers, mainly affecting younger audiences.

Brands that are skilled in producing real and authentic content will become a trusted and reliable source, offering a strong vote of confidence for others.


In today’s saturated digital landscape, trust has become a priceless asset for brands, and people are getting smarter in finding which brand they will trust.

Of course, creating high-quality brands & services is needed, but how you market it to your audience with genuine content on Instagram is also important.

That’s why User-generated content (UGC) is essential for your Instagram in 2023, as it conveys authenticity and trustworthiness to consumers, leading to increased conversion rates. It’s time to showcase your brand as one that can be trusted!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.