How to Curate a Stunning Instagram Feed with User Generated Content

Leveraging user generated content on Instagram is the key to curating a beautiful Instagram feed, but it’s also an excellent strategy for marketing your business too. Millennials trust UGC 50% more than other types of media, so it makes sense that Instagram is the king of UGC: from branded hashtags to tagged photos, Instagram users love creating and sharing free content for brands. 

Using user generated content to curate your Instagram feed will not only make your life a lot easier, but it can also help you build community and generate sales on Instagram! Here’s how to use user generated content on Instagram to create the perfect Instagram feed (and save you a ton of time):

user generated content instagram

How to Use User Generated Content on Instagram

First things first: what is user generated content? UGC is basically any type of content (photo, video, tweet, etc) that is created by a customer, fan, or user. That means that anyone taking their own photo, posting it to Instagram, and tagging a brand or using  a hashtag is creating user generated content. There’s two main types of Instagram accounts that will benefit from UGC: feature accounts and brand accounts.

Example of a feature account on Instagram

Example of a feature account on Instagram

Feature accounts are a relatively new kind of Instagram account that only posts about a specific niche, and almost all of their content is reposted from user generated content. And when we say niche, we mean niche: think @menandcoffee, which only features photos of men and coffee, or @ihavethisthingwithfloors, which posts exclusively different #shoefies of cool floor designs. Because they are so specific, these feature accounts are able to build a large following of devoted Instagram users, and the best part? They don’t have to take (or edit) a single photo themselves.

user generated content instagram ugc

Let’s take Later users @thebalibible as an example. They’ve curated a beautiful Instagram feed all about Bali, showcasing the best photography and places to visit on their Instagram account. Travellers follow the account to discover where they should go in Bali, and then include #thebalibible hashtag in their photos once they’ve arrived and are posting about it! The Bali Bible doesn’t even have to look for great content to post anymore, it just comes to them: there are over 600,000 posts to their hashtag!

instagram ugc

For featured accounts like The Bali Bible, it’s all about curating the best of the best, which is an excellent Instagram marketing strategy that brands can learn from. Brand accounts are the other type of Instagram accounts that can greatly benefit from an Instagram UGC strategy.

Instead of having to create enough content to post to Instagram every day, brands can leverage their own Instagram community and repost their images. The easiest way to do this is to create a branded Instagram hashtag and encourage your community to post about your business and include the hashtag. It’s a win win: you want your customers to post about your business so you get more exposure to their followers, and you can reward them by featuring their Instagram account on your page.

5 Steps to Curate an Instagram Feed with User Generated Content

So now that you understand the benefits of using user generated content on Instagram (saving time! creating a prettier feed!), it’s time to learn how you can curate your own Instagram feed using UGC. Let’s look at another Later user, Studio DIY, to see how they use a mix of branded content and user generated content to create a beautiful Instagram feed for their online store:

user generated content instagram

Step #1: Create a Branded Hashtag for Instagram UGC

The first step in using user generated content for your Instagram is to create a branded hashtag. Studio DIY is a popular lifestyle blog with over 300,000 Instagram followers,  and they recently launched an online store, Shop Studio DIY, which has it’s own Instagram account with over 10,000 followers. To promote their new clutches, they created the hashtag #cantclutchthis and included the hashtag on all of their Instagram posts about their clutches.

Step #2: Encourage Your Followers to Post with Your Hashtag

Once Shop Studio DIY picked their hashtag, it was time to get their community to start using it! If you’re creating a physical product, including the hashtag somewhere on the packaging is a great way to encourage your customers to post about it once they receive it (and are excited about it!). 

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Another way to get more UGC from Instagram is to create an Instagram contest to entice people to use your hashtag, as you can see in the example below. Shop Studio DIY has a monthly #cantclutchthis contest, where they pick one winner each month from all of the submissions on the hashtag. This encourages their followers to post about their products and use the hashtag!

But remember: it’s not enough to just create the Instagram contest, you’ll also want to promote the contest. Remember to schedule Instagram posts throughout the month to remind your followers to use your hashtag.

Free Instagram Scheduler

Step #3: Collect the Best UGC from Instagram 

Once you have people using your branded hashtag, it’s time to collect the best user generated content and post it on your Instagram feed. One way to do this is to search your hashtag in Instagram and take screenshots of each photo to repost, but that can be hard to keep track of. Not to mention that it degrades the quality of photo too! If you want to keep the original quality of each photo, you can follow in the footsteps of Shop Studio DIY and use an Instagram marketing platform like Later to repost Instagram photos (for free!).

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Collecting user generated content from Instagram is super easy with Later’s Search and Repost feature. All you have to do is type in your branded hashtag, and you’ll easily be able to save your favorites and post them to Instagram. When you see a photo you love, just click on the photo, select “Add to Media Library,” and continue to do this for all the photos you like. Depending on how popular your hashtag is, you’ll want to spend a few minutes every day or week going through your hashtag and adding content to your Later media library.

instagram ugc platform

If you’re not a Later user yet, you can sign up for free today!

Repost Instagram Content

Step #4: Plan Your Instagram Feed with UGC

After you’ve curated the best user generated content from your branded Instagram hashtag, it’s time to put it all together with your own content! The content calendar in Later will show you all of the photos and videos in your media library, including the UGC photos you selected. Upload any new photos that you want to add from your desktop or phone, and get ready to plan the perfect feed.

instagram user generated content

Open Later’s Visual Instagram Planner, select the photos that you want to post, and drag them onto your Instagram feed. From here you can drag and drop to create the order you want, or swap out photos that don’t look as great. When you love your Instagram feed, click save!

how to curate instagram feed with user generated content

Step #5 Give Credit in the Caption

The last step is to write a good Instagram caption, and it’s very important to include credit when you’re using user generated content. If you’re using an Instagram photo that didn’t use your branded hashtag, it’s a good practice to ask for permission first (or learn more: The Best Way for Businesses to Repost on Instagram).

Later will automatically pull in the caption and username of the original Instagram post, so you don’t have to try and remember who the person was or where the photo came from. You can repost the same caption, or delete it and create your own…just make sure to leave the original Instagram handle in the caption and give them photo credit!

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The end result? Shop Studio DIY’s Instagram feed is a gorgeous example of how to integrate user generated content into your Instagram strategy. By creating an incentive for their customers to post awesome content to their own Instagram account, they’re gaining not only brand exposure, but also a ton of great content they can use to promote their products – for free!

Ready to get curating? Sign up for our Free Instagram Course to get a ton of tips on how to design, curate, and plan your Instagram feed!

Written By

Taylor Loren

Taylor Loren is the Content Marketing Manager at Later and one of LinkedIn’s Top Voices for 2016. You can follow her writing on LinkedIn or connect with her on  Instagram or Twitter at @taylrn.