Competition in the world of digital marketing and ecommerce is at an all-time high. Just keeping an online presence is no longer enough for a brand to stand out. Building an effective strategy and making the most out of every opportunity are a must to leave the competitors behind. But there is still a valuable source untapped by many businesses — user-generated content.

What is User-Generated Content

User-generated content (UGC for short) is any type of content that is created and shared by consumers of a brand, about that brand, products or services. It’s Word of Mouth communication in the digital age. Examples of UGC are testimonials, reviews, social media posts, customer photos and videos, and the like. User-generated content is not directed or paid by brands, it’s created genuinely by satisfied customers to share with other potential customers.

Why is User-Generated Content Important

As many as 85% of consumers trust word of mouth via user-generated content more than what comes from advertisers, and 66% of consumers rely heavily on reviews and recommendations from other fellow-customers when making purchasing decisions. User-created content was intensively researched, and all findings point to the same fact — the vast majority of people trust other people over any ad.

Effort and lack of bias behind user-generated content are what makes it so trustworthy. If someone took the time of their day to create content about a product, service or brand (for free!), they must have been pretty impressed by the experience, therefore the subject matter is worth attention. As a product producer, you can take passionate online posts about your product, put them up on your site and social media handles to use them to your advantage.

The Benefits of User-Generated Content

  • It builds trust in the legitimacy of your product’s quality. If a person swears by a product, it’s perceived as way more genuine and honest when it’s done by a customer rather than by an influencer that was sponsored to present an enhanced version of a product. The mere existence of user-generated content on a brand’s page is already a very good look and a sign of credibility.
  • It puts your customer to the forefront, making their voice heard and input appreciated. Any business that demonstrates it’s here to not just sell but also share values, open a dialog with customers, and celebrate their creativity, is the winner. This is how a stronger, deeper connection is established, and how brands turn followers and digital window shoppers into loyal clients that come back for more.
  • It helps understand the audience and community better. Looking up content under branded hashtags can reveal a lot about the clients’ needs and priorities. Businesses, especially those that don’t have a physical store and only work online, can see and analyze who their customers are: their lifestyle, tastes, interests. Priceless information for all brands to tailor their approach and service to their target audiences.
  • It boosts SEO and improves brand visibility online. User-generated content provides more context for search crawlers, it’s also filled with long-tail keyword brands can draw inspiration from to improve their search engine optimization strategies. Google favors content that isn’t too heavy on keywords and gives useful information, which is exactly what UGC is like.
  • It increases engagement and enables brands to reach new audiences. All creators of user-generated content have audiences of their own. When they share content about a brand or product, the information is spread among their friends, relatives and other people that brand most probably wouldn’t ever be able to reach.
  • It provides unique content and ensures brand authenticity. Mixing professional promo content and user-generated content on your social media platform is likely to increase brand engagement by 28%. No user review, photo or other content dedicated to your brand is exactly the same as UGC about your competitors, which makes you stand out.
  • It is cost-effective. Because it’s free, user-generated content is especially valuable for small businesses and brands with limited budgets.

How to Find User-Generated Content on Instagram with Combin

Combin Growth, a desktop application for Instagram audience search, analysis, management and attraction, can be used as a UGC finder on Instagram. It has a powerful search module and a variety of settings, filters and sorting options that help to discover the most relevant content. Let’s take a closer look at all of Combin features relevant to user-generated content search.

#1. Content Search by Branded Hashtags

Search by hashtag can be used in a few ways. Take a branded hashtag that you and your community on Instagram use, type it in the specialized field within the application. If you have several brand-related hashtags, you can click the plus icon to add more hashtag fields — save time searching by multiple hashtags at once.

#2. Content Search by Locations

Search by location can be performed through the place name input into the specialized field. There is also an option to target specific geographic areas on an interactive map. Combin locates all places within the selected area, such as streets, shops, cafes, clubs, and other public places, and finds posts tagged within these locations. On top of that, the application allows combining hashtag and location queries for the most precise results.

#3. Demographics Preferences and User Analysis

Below the hashtag and location fields, there is the Advanced Filters and Analysis feature. Enable it to activate the user analysis that determines irrelevant (spam-like or too popular) Instagram accounts and filters them out. Under the Analysis you can set the preferences, so the application only shows Instagram content made by users of a specific gender, in the language(s) of your choice. Moreover, you can specify the last activity status and audience size of the content creators.

#4. Advanced Sorting and Filter Options

Once you’ve got the search results, you can apply additional sorting options and filters. Hide UGC made by Instagram accounts you already follow, sort posts by virality and engagement rate, filter publications by a number of likes and comments, the amount of followers and following the creator has on Instagram. Leave only the hottest, most interesting content for further evaluation and use.

#5. Direct Contact with Creators

It’s never a good idea to take someone’s work and publish it in your feed without asking. Always request permission before featuring user-generated content on your Instagram or any other platform. Even if a customer publicly shared the review on your product, it doesn’t mean they are happy to be exposed to your most probably much larger audience.

Leave a like to user-created Instagram content right within Combin to flatter the creator. Use the commenting form to thank the content creators for feedback, encourage them to use your brand hashtag if they aren’t already, and ask if they consent to be reposted to your page.

If you’ve got a lot of user-generated content to deal with, you can create some time-saving comment templates with the repost permission request, in order to conveniently send them out en masse to multiple creators at once.

Tip: After discovering your Instagram UGC and contacting the content creators, you might need a way to plan its posting accordingly with your current content schedule and feed aesthetic. If so, we recommend using Combin Scheduler, a dedicated application for Instagram publications planning.