New trends leveraging User-Generated Content (UGC) to increase sales on Instagram

Bloggers and brands make a lot of beautiful content on Instagram, but often times it doesn’t feel genuine. Unlike User-Generated Content, or UGC, which feels authentic and original, because it is created by real people who use the product.

UGC consists of any form of content that's created by users about a brand or product. UGC isn't paid for, that’s why the majority of people trust content shared by “average” person more than by brands.

How to encourage your users to create UGC?

Women's clothing company Aerie created the #AerieREAL, a simple but powerful campaign. Aerie asked followers to share their unretouched swim photos with hashtag #AerieREAL and they’ll donate $1 to the National Eating Disorders Association. In addition, they get to share a picture of an influencer in a swimming suit to inspire people to make content themselves.


But you don’t have to pay an influencer to create content - you can do it yourself.

Challenge your gang

Christina Pardy,  founder of a Boston-based knitwear company @shitthatiknit posted a video of herself jumping into fresh snow wearing a bathing suit and her brand’s hat. Creating the hashtag #binkinisandbeanies, she challenged and encouraged her followers to do the same and share their content.

Her #binkinisandbeanies challenge rules:

1. Go outside in you STIK hat and your fave bathing suit

2. Post it and tag #binkinisandbeanies

3. I will be picking the top 10 winners for free hats

4. I’ll be live updating the submissions.


The outcome? Over 30 people have participated in the #binkinisandbeanies challenge. Christina reposted all posts and Stories on her Instagram.

Were these people posing wearing bikini’s in 20 degrees Boston weather because they desperately wanted a free hat? Of course, many of them wanted to win and get the prize. Competing is fun! But most of them participated because they liked the idea of challenging themselves to do something really brave, like doing a “snow angel” while wearing a swimming suit.


You have to come up with a cool hashtag for your UGC campaign, as Christina did with her #binkinisandbeanies tag. It’s also a good idea to include your brand name into a hashtag as Aerie’s #AerieReal. But it is more important to make it simple, memorable and imaginative, like AirBnB’s #notyettrending for not-yet-discovered places, and #livethere about “living” in a city vs just visiting.

Instagram Stories

With Instagram Stories having become an even more popular tool than Instagram feed, generating UGC has become a much smoother process. If you ask people not to post something, but “Story” it, they are much more likely to participate. Their bikini picture or a selfie without edits will disappear in 24 hours, so why not to join and try to win a prize?

Scale your UGC campaign

Ok, you have boosted Instagram engagement and got a few hundreds of new followers and a couple of sales. Is it the end of story? No, it is just a beginning!

Partner with influencers to recreate your “moments”

A customer of the cosmetics brand Glossier made an organic video where her son brushes her brows with the brand’s brow palette.  Glossier then took this organic content and turned it into a blended influencer campaign. They partnered with mom-bloggers from micro-influencers to bigger deals, had their sons do their brows, and posted it all on Instagram. Glossier’s Editorial Director Emily Ferber said that it was one of the most successful marketing campaigns that was very aligned with their brand strategy.


Use Instagram Ads to promote your best performing UGC

You can repurpose your content for advertising, asking your users or influencers permission in advance. At Salted Papaya we implemented this strategy for one of our clients: we repurposed a video made by an influencer for a Stories Ad, and we got leads (messaging replies) with $1.5 cost per lead, running the ad for the cold audience. Read more about the results that we got.

If you have an additional budget, you can recreate your best performing UGC video by hiring a model/influencer and a professional videographer, and use this video as an ad banner. Glossier did just that.

make your UGC shoppable

If your customer created beautiful content featuring your product, don’t miss that opportunity to squeeze all from it! Repost this content as a feed post or Story, and tag your product with shoppable tags.

Don’t forget asking your customer for permission first, and mention them in the captions. This is a very simple strategy, but robust and effective.


Are you still hesitant on leveraging UGC for your brand on Instagram? Then you are ignoring the most effective and less expensive way to get results from this platform.

At Salted Papaya, we can help you to plan and implement your UGC strategy. Contact us to learn more.