Instagram UGC: The Ultimate Guide to User-Generated Content on Instagram

Ioana Cozma
May 21, 2024
March 1, 2023

Think of Instagram UGC as a garden. Just like a garden is filled with nourishing vegetables and beautiful flowers, authentic content breathes life and beauty into your brand.

And more importantly, it helps your company grow.

Instagram UGC is particularly good at that, so this article will teach you how to do it from A to Z.

Our robust UGC agency will take you step-by-step through two types of UGC campaigns: organic and paid. This article is filled with in-house case studies, actionable advice, insider tips, plus many other examples.

Keep reading!


  • UGC’s benefits: Cost-effective, influences decisions, builds trust, and boosts sales.
  • Begin UGC campaign: Understand goals, find unique selling points, and strategize effectively.
  • Organic UGC campaign steps: Set goals, source content, curate, seek permission, share, create shoppable galleries, monitor, and optimize.
  • Paid UGC campaign approach: Define goals, craft creative briefs, choose micro-influencers, post and monitor content.
  • Optimize and scale: Improve and expand campaigns based on performance data.

What is UGC?

    UGC means user-generated content. Up until recently, the term defined any content created by regular people, such as:

    • Customers
    • Employees
    • Brand advocates
    • Random people online

    Now, the concept of UGC has expanded to include content creators. These UGC creators produce sponsored content but in a way that mimics UGC.

    At inBeat, we successfully tap into this strategy to reach a wide range of marketing goals. We’ll tell you more about that below.


Why Use UGC on Instagram?

UGC statistics prove that adding authentic user-generated content into your marketing strategy delivers good results:

  • It’s free (unless you’re using creators): But even in this case, organic-looking content is cheaper to produce than paid ads by 50%.
  • UGC influences purchase decisions dramatically: UGC is 6x more influential than branded content, as 79% of shoppers say their purchasing decisions were based on other customer testimonials and social media posts. By comparison, branded content influences just 12% of customers.
  • It’s more trustworthy: A new study shows that UGC and creator content can speed up the customer journey from awareness to loyalty. In fact, 51% of customers claim trusting user images because of their enhanced authenticity.
  • It leads to increased sales: 40% of Americans bought products seen on social media. And UGC increases the conversion rate up to 5x.

But why use UGC on Instagram?

This social platform, along with TikTok, is a UGC haven, especially as 85% of shoppers deem visual UGC more effective.

Insider tip: Instagram UGC is not created equal to TikTok UGC.

At inBeat, we noticed that TikTok is better for raw UGC, whereas Instagram allows you to introduce more polished UGC as well. That means you have more options to present your brand to diverse audience segments on Instagram compared to TikTok.

How to Build an Organic UGC Campaign on Instagram

Building an organic UGC campaign on Instagram can be easy if you have a strategy. We’ll discuss the most important steps below.

1. Set a Goal

Any campaign starts with a goal. Having this will help you zero in on the following:

  • Objectives
  • Key performance indicators (KPIs)
  • Tactics
  • Tools

Let’s say you have a mobile game, and your goal is to increase app installs.

Your objectives could be to:

  • Increase app installs by 20% in three months.
  • Decrease app uninstalls by 20% in three months.
  • Increase the number of active users by 20% in three months.

KPIs for this goal are, obviously, the numbers of installs, uninstalls, and active users. Another worthwhile KPI could be CPI (cost per install).

Instagram UGC is your main tactic here. Other tactics could include leveraging UGC on different platforms and a paid media campaign.

And your tools are all the pieces of content created.

Here’s a neat example of UGC from one of our clients, Linktree (yes, inBeat is that good). We produced both organic and paid content for them, as they wanted to increase their engagement with their community of users.

In terms of organic content, we helped them build a relatable persona through a slew of memes, Instagram trends, and other hip content:

Bumble in-feed ad

We know you hear it; “not two, not three, not four, ” and so on.

2. Source Your UGC

An organic UGC campaign is based on content that real people produce. So, your job is sourcing proper UGC to fit your previously-established goal.

You can:

  • Inform your loyal customers or random users about your UGC campaign.
  • Tell them what sort of content they must create. Be very specific with your guidelines.
  • Create a memorable hashtag for this campaign and ask your target audience to use it.
  • Give a deadline by which they can send you their creations.
  • Offer an incentive that will motivate increasingly more people to produce that content, like gift cards or discounts.

3. Select the UGC

Keep an eye on your campaign hashtag to see what content is coming your way. Alternatively, we encourage you to use a social listening tool to monitor:

  • Company name
  • Brand mentions
  • Campaign-related and branded hashtags

This sort of social media listening software spares you hours of manual work. Plus, you get precise reports in one place.

Scrub Daddy could definitely use a brand search right now.

Micro-influencer and Airbnb cleaning specialist Whitney White keeps mentioning their products without any sponsorship deal, and her audience is noticing:

Whitney White Instagram UGC

This shows you the power of Instagram. People can easily make a brand go viral or cause a hassle.

4. Curate that UGC

Real-life people don’t have the best tools to produce content. So many images and videos you get from them will likely need to undergo content curation.

  • Choose the right content.
  • Ensure this content fits your campaign’s requirements and brand values.
  • Edit the color palette, sounds, and text to make the content fit your brand style.

Insider tip: Be extra careful about posting content that involves children or alcohol.

If you do need to do that for your campaign:

  • Get express parental approval for kids.
  • Ensure everyone sharing content about controlled substances or alcohol is of age.

5. Request Permission

Always ask for permission before reposting someone’s content unless they’ve explicitly used your hashtag, and their content appears automatically in your “Tagged” section.

But if you want to “borrow” a piece of content for your Instagram Reels or Feed, ask for permission via:

  • A direct message
  • A comment

Insider Tip: Get express permission from the original creator for Instagram Stories too.

Some say that sharing stories doesn’t require explicit permission because the original content is kept. Besides, people who don’t want others sharing their stories shouldn’t tag you there in the first place.

Even so, it’s better to get out of this grey area by taking all your precautionary measures.

6. Share that UGC

Once you have your UGC, share it on your Instagram Feed, Stories, Reels, or your Instagram store. You can even create specific sections for different campaigns so people can find them easier.

How do you do that?

  • There’s an app for that: Many reposting apps are specifically designed to automatize the work behind sharing multiple posts. They help you keep the original post, audio, captions, etc. The best of them even add watermarks.
  • Use a screen capture: Making screen captures may take longer, but many small companies do it. Just remember to ask for permission before reposting.
  • Hit the share button: Instagram stories are easy to share if you were tagged in them. Alternatively, use screen capture again.

GoPro has gotten a reputation for how much they rely on UGC, but you can find all their UGC IG posts in the “Tagged” section:

GoPro Instagram UGC tagged posts

b brcompanies a andPro tip: Also, notice how clean and curated everything looks.

7. Create a Shoppable Gallery

You can create shoppable galleries on Instagram to help potential customers buy faster. UGC creates social proof and desire, making people more likely to purchase.

Including an action button that makes that purchase easier will skyrocket your conversion rate.

We especially encourage this for advertising campaigns of CPG brands and e-commerce companies because these shoppable galleries are specifically created to build up purchase intent.

Don’t stop there.

Present these shoppable galleries on your:

  • Product pages
  • Home page
  • Dedicated page
Instagram Shoppable Gallery

8. Monitor and Optimize

Keep an eye on your UGC campaign, following the KPIs we discussed in step one—zero in on the content that performs best and offers your audience more similar relevant posts.

We also encourage you to scale your Instagram UGC on other social media to build a sense of community. You can repost this social media content or create UGC ads.

Pro tip: UGC has also been proven useful in email marketing, increasing the click and open rates considerably. We encourage you to use it confidently.

Get the most out of your Instagram UGC with inBeat’s Influencer Marketing Agency in London

How to Build a Paid UGC Campaign on Instagram

Paid UGC campaigns use a sponsored form of content. This approach entails several advantages:

  • It’s easier to control the process because creators know how to follow a brief.
  • Savvy creators know how to produce compelling content for their audience.
  • These creators can also engage their followers in talks about your product. Perhaps they can also convince regular people to produce more content of their own about your brand.
  • You get more quality content from the get-go, so you don’t have to curate a massive library.
  • You have a more precise timeline.
  • You can monitor the campaign results more easily, particularly if you add UTM links or discount codes for each influencer.

Below, we discuss how to build a paid Instagram UGC campaign, with plenty of in-home examples from our clients:

1. Define Your Goals

Again, this step entails setting the right goals, objectives, and KPIs. You should also find the right tactics and tools according to your campaign goals. For example, you may focus on feed posts, Reels ads, etc.

Insider tip: At inBeat, we base most of our strategy on research and less on creativity.

When a client first comes to us, we sit them down and do a company audit, looking at:

  • Their audience
  • Their company history, mission, and values
  • Their previous marketing campaigns
  • Their competitors

We do that to find specific opportunities to position that company in a unique way. Basically, we’re trying to find a free niche in their customers’ minds that they can occupy.

We encourage you to do the same.

Here’s an example worth mentioning:

One of our customers, Phone Loops, came to us for an awareness campaign. Their innovative product (those loops you tie around your smartphone to prevent it from falling) needed social proof.

Phoneloops Instagram UGC

We considered that Instagram UGC was the perfect way to create that awareness, social proof, and customer desire.

Years after they first came at inBeat, Phone Loops still uses this strategy to power up their social media calendar.

2. Create a Brief

After finding the right insights, the next step is building that creative UGC brief. You want specific guidelines for your social posts to be persuasive. Still, you want to leave room for flexibility.

At inBeat, we’ve perfected our creative briefs so they’re highly concentrated and actionable without missing any important information.

Take a look at our influencer brief template here.

We include:

  • An ‘About’ section to quickly introduce the company
  • Deliverables
  • Creative storyboard
  • Do’s and don’ts
  • Hooks ideas
  • Examples of ad creatives

That way, your creators know what’s expected of them.

LuxBox Creative Brief

3. Choose Content Creators

We encourage you to choose the right content creators only after making this creative brief. The reason is that you want to find the people who fit the brief and not the other way around.

Insider tip: Choose micro- or nano-influencers for UGC campaigns.

These influencers are more engaged with their audiences because they have fewer followers. That means they have more time to discuss your product directly.

Use the right tools to find these influencers:

  • This platform gives you access to a slew of professional influencers, which you can shortlist using a ton of filters.
  • Instagram engagement rate calculator: This tool shows if your chosen influencers have an engaged community. Or better said, if they have the influence they claim to.
  • Instagram fake follower checker: This helps you ensure your influencers are legit.
  • UGC agency: This platform matches you with established creators who produce professional content.

You should also make sure these influencers fit your brand’s image.

Here’s a neat example from our clients, Native.

  1. This beauty brand has a very stylish image, so they needed creators that regularly produce this kind of polished content.
  2. Diversity is one of their core values, so we had to find influencers from all walks of life.

From sparring Taekwondo world champion Leticia Esparza to fashion enthusiast and stylist Prashant Yay, the Native campaign had it all.

Leticia Esparza Instagram UGC
Prashant Yay Instagram UGC

4. Post and Monitor the Content

After you get the right content, post it according to your schedule. Don’t forget to monitor it to see who are your top performers and what type of content performs best.

Follow the KPIs you originally established for this campaign.

At inBeat, we dedicate the first month to research, finding influencers, and sourcing content. The second month is usually for posting and monitoring how their content performs.

Pro tip: You are the boss of your posting schedule.

For example, our client Bluehouse Salmon continues to power up their content calendar with UGC. Let’s face it:

Organic salmon is not a sexy product for social media, so branded content wouldn’t perform as well for them.

Instead, their social media is filled with mouthwatering photos of real people trying different salmon-based recipes.

This approach creates more desire and keeps Bluehouse Salmon in the limelight.

They now have 200+ unique content assets and 500%+ follower growth:

Bluehouse Salmon content

Remember: You can also ask influencers to repost this content on their Instagram feeds, but this may cost extra.

One of our clients, Soylent, uses discount codes to monitor each creator’s activity.

Organizing an Instagram UGC campaign to increase sales is a good strategy for getting more buyers. And it helps you keep track of your influencers’ activity.

You can read their case study here.

Soylent Instagram UGC

5. Optimize and Scale Your Campaign

We typically dedicate the third month of UGC campaigns to optimizing and scaling. Based on our results, we hit the acceleration on the top-performing content and modify or halt the less-performing one.

For example, another one of our clients is Prose. They need new content constantly to power their media-buying budget. So, we help them with 50+ unique assets per month.

This helps them stay on top of their customers’ minds:

Prose Instagram UGC

How to Start Your Instagram UGC Campaign

Starting an effective UGC campaign on Instagram is half done if you understand your goals and find a unique selling point. After that, it’s all about strategizing everything.

Follow your KPIs, monitor your campaign, and look for unique insights you can use to optimize the results. The actionable insider tips and tools included in this guide should give you a good start.

But if you need someone to brainstorm strategy with, book a free strategy call with inBeat. We’ll help you build a UGC campaign for Instagram in no time.

Want more examples of successful Instagram UGC? Check out our case studies.

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