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For These Brands, UGC Only Drives 4% Higher Engagement on Instagram

With 500M monthly active users and 80M photos posted per day, Instagram has given brands an unprecedented opportunity to connect directly with their audience. In our previous Instagram studies, we have seen that marketers are experimenting with a range of tactics to grow their audiences on the platform and generate engagement to increase brand awareness.Pasted image at 2016_11_01 01_37 PMOne of the most common tactics is reposting user-generated content. According to various studies, over half (51%) of Americans trust user-generated content more than other information on a company website, and they say that it influences what they buy and where they buy it from. Other research suggests that 43% of people are more likely to purchase a new product when they have learned about it through social channels or from friends and family.

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So we checked to see how brands perform on Instagram when it comes to user-generated content. Using our own solution, we looked at data for 13 major brands: Qatar Airways, Red Bull, BMW, Sephora, Wayfair, Netflix, Cathay Pacific, Starbucks, Turkish Airlines, Emirates Airlines, Amazon Video, All Nippon Airways, and Singapore Airlines.

All these brands have a strong presence on Instagram and are innovators at using the platform to connect with their respective target audiences. However, for this data set, UGC content only delivers a marginally high amount of engagement (4%). Let’s take a look at the findings.

85% of these brands are utilizing user-generated content on Instagram.

Screen Shot 2016-11-01 at 2.34.38 PM

Brands are soliciting this content in a few different ways. They are:

  • Asking their audiences to submit pictures to be regrammed by the brand
  • Running contests, asking users to submit their photos and then repost the best image
  • Listening to their mentions on Instagram and reaching out to the original poster asking for permission to re-gram the content.Screen Shot 2016-11-01 at 11.38.21 AM

These tactics encourage audiences to use the brand’s name or hashtag in their content, facilitating brand discovery and building awareness.

80% of these brands solicit content or provide guidelines for submissions.

As mentioned above, brands encourage users to submit their content either through contests, submissions through hashtags, or brands requesting users for their permissions to regram a particular post.

The other 20% are seen asking users to tag their photos with hashtags but do not make it evident if the content will be used by the brand. Providing users with a guideline of how to submit their content or how their content might be used helps them get a better understanding of the content they should submit, ultimately improving the overall content for brand’s Instagram feed. For example, Starbucks usually provides users with a theme for content submission that they selectively regram.

For more than half of these brands, 30% or more posts were user-generated content

Screen Shot 2016-11-01 at 9.40.08 AMSince people trust more of what their friends/family say than branded content, it’s not surprising to see that brands are using more user-generated content as a part of their content strategy, since it provides a more genuine voice to the brand and resonates more with the audience.

30% of these brands generated over 90% of the total engagement for UGC 

Though a majority of these brands utilize user-generated content, not all see the same amount of engagement. Just a handful are generating a majority of engagement from user-generated content, depending on how established the brand is on Instagram and how well have they kept their audience engaged. Usually a brand that sees high engagement on regrammed content also gets a high amount of engagement for their owned content, a result of having a highly engaged community.

As mentioned above, for this data set engagement on user-generated content was only slightly higher (4%) than branded content–mainly because brands like Red Bull, Sephora, BMW and Starbucks have a very engaged Instagram community and receive almost an equal amount of engagement per post, both for their branded content and user-generated content.

How will user-generated content impact marketing?

With 95M+ photos posted and 4.2B Likes daily, Instagram provides a huge opportunity for brands to systematically leverage this powerful source.

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Collaborating with the audience to improve the quality of the earned content will help brands create stronger stories on the platform, making them look more human and more relevant to their audience, which helps build the brand and forge new relationships going forward. And even though the amount of engagement on UGC was only slightly higher than branded content in this data set, these partnerships between the brands and their Instagram communities will help create more captivating content, driving engagement higher.

Are you using user-generated content on Instagram? Want to learn more about improving your Instagram strategy? Download the kit below.

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Tripti Shrivastava

I'm a Social Media Analyst at Simply Measured. I love food, music, movies, and long walks. Let's talk about social media data!

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