Instagram User Generated Content Rocks Marketing Results

Make Your Content Marketing Photos Look Organic

(Almost) instagram user generated content with hashtagSelling to today’s consumers is tough.

Consumers trust their family, friends and other customers. But they don’t trust you, Mr. or Ms. Marketer.

This isn’t a newsflash. Nielsen reported this back in 2011. The problem is that as a result your target audience can tell a marketing message a mile away.

What can a savvy content marketer like you do to get messages to break through the 12+ hours of media clutter their target audience takes in on a daily basis?

The answer is a no brainer.

Take a page from your consumers’ social media streams. Make your content marketing look and feel like the information your audience’s family and friends share on social media.  Don’t overlook the fact that people consume photographic information in 13 milliseconds!!!

User generated content options

You have 2 content marketing options:

  • Use real content your customers have created. This is true user generated content (UGC)
  • Fake it with content that looks like your fans created it.

Photographic social media inspiration

Where should you turn for photographic social media inspiration?

Instagram 2014’s hottest form of social media. The numbers tell a persuasive story based on eMarketer 2014 forecastsActionable Research Based Instagram Marketing tips

  • 40.5 million people in the US will access Instagram at least once per month. 
  • 25% of US smartphone owners will use Instagram on a monthly basis.
  • Over 2/3 of Instagram users are between 18 and 44.

Instagram user generated content (UGC)

Laundry Service ran an A/B test for Yosi Samra, a fashion brand using Instagram styled user generated content.  They used the exact same copy and featured the same product.

The only difference was the image used. One image was a high quality, glossy, photo shoot shot and one was an image that looked like an Instagram user generated content type photo that might appear in a Facebook or Instagram feed. Instagram User Generated Content

Intuitively, the test results make sense.

  • The non-organic image yielded CTRs  of 3% to fans and 2% to non-fans.
  • The organic image (aka Instragram User Generated Content styled image) yielded CTRs of 5% to fans and 8% to non-fans, a 2-3x increase in engagement rate compared to the non-organic image.

Actionable Instagram Tip: Give your photographs the user generated touch to give your content a boost. (But understand that you’ll still need professional photographers to balance your content marketing offering especially as other brands follow this trend.)

Instagram hashtags

The use of hashtag campaigns on Instagram can help marketers to create a sense of community and build brand loyalty, based on analysis of 1 million Instagram photos by Dan Zarrella. Instagram posts with hashtags performed significantly better. Instagram User Generated Content Hashtags

Marketers take note: Hashtags that correlated with more likes implied reciprocity such as “#followforfollow,” “#likeforlike,” and “#tagsforlikes.” 

Instagram user generated content most liked hashtagBy contrast, the least liked Instagram hashtags are inward focused and scream “me-me-me”.Least liked Instagram Hashtags-Dan Zarrella

Actionable Instagram Tip: Use the power of Instagram hashtags to your advantage. Create hashtags that reflect on your brand and your followers.

Beauty brand NARS did a great job of leveraging hashtags at New York Fashion Week by having their models hold up a sign with the hashtag “NARSissist”, a play on their brand name. This image had 5,222 likes.

(Almost) instagram user generated content with hashtag

Designer Rebecca Minkoff used Instagram user generated content to enter the social media conversation about a topic near to her heart. She posed with a hand written hashtag sign, #BringBackOurGirls, to support the girls who were kidnapped in Nigeria.

Show your prospects and customers another view of your brand. Make it personal and real to cut through the noise. People know when you speak from your heart.

Instagram user generated content hashtag

Of course, don’t overlook letting your customers get into the Instagram act. Reward your fans by featuring their photographs on your website and social media platforms. Urban Outfitters does this using the hashtag, #UOaroundYou.

Instagram enables your prospects and customers to strut their stuff and persuade your prospects. This Instagram user generated content yields sales since it gets personal responses to the questions, “Should I buy this product?” and “How do you like this product I just bought?”

Urban Outfitter instagram user generated content


The goal of Instagram user generated content is to rock your content marketing results by giving your prospects, customers and fans a sense of brand ownership that helps validate their purchases.

Further, when followers see your photos on Instagram, they’re experienced next to photos of their family and friends. Therefore give your images a more personal touch like Rebecca Minkoff did.

Have you used Instagram styled images in your content marketing? What have your results been?

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen

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Photo Credit: NARS Instagram

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