Want to build trust and engage your Instagram audience at the same time?
User-generated content (UGC) can make it happen!
Because customer content not only allows you to show off your products in action but also creates a sense of community around your brand.
The best way to feature UGC on Instagram, though? Short-form video.
Consider how Reels are booming in popularity right now. The current Instagram algorithm can’t seem to get enough of ‘em. That’s why featuring UGC in Instagram Reels is so effective. In this post, you’ll learn:
- Why UGC and Reels are a perfect match
- How to collect customer content on Instagram to promote in your Reels
- Actual examples of Reels campaigns from brands on Instagram
Why Brands Should Feature User-Generated Content in Reels
It’s no secret that brands are going all-in on short-form video at the moment.
In fact, 20% of all Instagram activity takes place via Reels.
According to Instagram themselves, the platform plans to become more video focused in the future. Formats like Reels are seeing higher reach and engagement versus Stories or In-Feed posts as a result.
And the boom of short-form videos represents a window of opportunity for brands.
Modern consumers flock to social media for recommendations from actual people over brands. That's why a customer-focused content strategy should be a top priority.
Food for thought: 62% of consumers want to see customer videos before buying a product. Content by consumers for consumers is incredibly powerful. Through UGC Reels, brands can maximize the reach of their most valuable customer content.
5 Steps to Put Together Your UGC Reels Campaign on Instagram
Below is a breakdown of the steps needed to pull off a UGC campaign via Reels.
1. Familiarize Yourself with the Reels Format and Its Features
First thing’s first: you need to know how Reels work before asking people to create them.
If you’re not 100% up-to-date on how Reels are different from regular Instagram videos, here’s a quick summary:
- Reels are looping, vertical videos between 15 and 90 seconds long.
- Key features: captions, creative editing tools, product tags, Instagram music library
- Reels can be created natively on Instagram or uploaded via third-party video apps
- Videos published via Reels show up in the “Reels” tab and your main IG feed
Content-wise, Reels are Instagram’s answer to the skits, challenges and viral videos on TikTok. That said, the format has definitely come into its own recently.
Instagram Reels are perfect for making playful, authentic content that provides an up-close view of your products. Some common types of UGC-style Reels include:
- How-tos, “hacks” and educational content (think: makeup tutorials)
- Skits and challenges based on trending Instagram audio
- Behind-the-scenes videos of your brand (think: off-the-cuff videos by employees)
- Before-and-after videos highlighting how your product works
- Promotional videos hyping up a new product or offer
2. Pick Your UGC Campaign Goals
Like with any type of social media campaign, goals and outcomes matter.
That’s why your UGC Reels should be tied to actual business objectives such as:
- Increasing brand awareness
- Generating buzz for a product launch or event
- Creating a sense of community among your customers
- Driving more customer engagement and interactions
- Supporting your sales efforts
- Gathering feedback from customers about your product(s)
Short-form videos can help brands achieve a variety of goals. There are countless examples of brands using Instagram Reels to promote products and engage followers.
Some of the goals above overlap and that’s okay! What matters is aligning your UGC Reels with your big-picture marketing efforts.
3. Decide How You’ll Collect UGC For Your Reels Campaign
There’s no “right” way to get more user-generated content on Instagram.
If you’re building a campaign around Reels, you have multiple options depending on your preferred type of promotion. Below are three common strategies for encouraging and gathering UGC.
Option 1: Create (and Promote) a Branded Hashtag to Source UGC
Promoting a branded hashtag is the most popular way to collect UGC on Instagram. Here’s a quick snapshot of how to use hashtags to source Reels:
- Brainstorm a catchy, share-worthy #hashtag that captures your brand voice. Zenni Optical’s #LoveMyZennis or Anthropologie’s #MyAnthropologie are two examples. Assuming you already have a branded hashtag, come up with a secondary tag specific to your UGC Reels campaign.
- Feature your branded hashtag in your Instagram bio. Include a call to action (“tag us” or “share”) that serves as an invitation for people to use your tag.
- Promote your hashtag in any posts related to your campaign. Include a call-to-action in your campaign-related posts, too.
- Tell followers you’ll repost their tagged Reels as an incentive to participate.
- Remember to take advantage of Reel’s features and quirks. This includes music, reusable sounds, challenges, dances and filters.
Let’s look at an example of a UGC campaign from Lucy & Yak’s. Their #InMyYaks promotion asked followers to share UGC featuring the brand’s products in outdoor settings.
Below is an example of both a hashtag and call-to-action from their Reels campaign. Note how the brand specifically prompts followers to share their videos and asks what they’ll create.
This hashtag campaign does a great job of raising awareness for the brand’s new line of products. The brand finds a balance between clear guidelines and giving customers creative freedom.
Option 2: Host an Instagram Reels Giveaway or Contest
If you really want to provide customers an extra push to create content, an Instagram giveaway can do the trick.
The concept is simple enough. In exchange for entries in the form of Reels, you reward a winner with a prize of your choosing. Instagram giveaways and contests involve their own sets of rules but here’s a quick summary:
- Decide on a giveaway prize. Whether it’s a product or experience, you’ll want to choose a prize that’s enticing to your target audience. This can also directly tie into your campaign goals, too. For example, you might gift an item from your upcoming product launch to hype up your next drop.
- Determine your entry criteria. Be explicit about how entrants can participate in your giveaway. For a UGC Reels campaign, you’ll want to instruct your followers to create Reels featuring your branded hashtag. Many Instagram giveaways also include criteria such as following your account or tagging a friend.
- Create a Reels post announcing your giveaway. Include all of your entry criteria in your post and pictures of the prizes they can win. Make sure you stick to Instagram’s promotion guidelines. Oh, and be clear about when your giveaway begins and ends.
- After your campaign has run its course, choose a winner. This process needs to be completely objective and transparent to make things fair for your followers. Many brands announce and celebrate giveaway winners after their promotion ends.
Below is an example of an Instagram giveaway partnership between a creator and Marshall’s.
The giveaway asks followers to post their favorite summer outfit from Marshall’s using the #MarshallsSummerCloset in their caption.
Note how the instructions are explicit and specific. You want to leave followers with as few questions as possible if you decide to go the giveaway route.
Option 3: Launch a Product Gifting Campaign
Product gifting is another tried and true way for brands to curate UGC.
Through gifting campaigns, brands send free products to influencers in exchange for a shout-out or review. Below is an example of an influencer-generated Reel that’s part of a gifting campaign.
Check out another example of an IG Reels gifting campaign from makeup brand lottie london. The campaign’s goal was to support the retail presence of their stamp eyeliner at Walmart. The brand asked creators to post UGC-style Reels of themselves discovering the product in-store. Campaign posts were then tracked and sourced through the #findinglottielondon tag.
The end result of this particular campaign? 80+ pieces of creator content, 23,000+ “Likes” and over 200,000 video plays! This highlights the potential of an Instagram Reels campaign powered by gifted products.
Note: While product gifting can be cost-effective, there’s no denying how time-intensive the process can be if you’re doing it yourself. If you’re interested in getting started with gifting, check out our post on how to put together an influencer gifting campaign.
4. Announce Your UGC Reels Campaign to Your Followers
Once you’ve squared away the goals and format of your Instagram Reels campaign, you’ll need to announce it to the world.
We’ve discussed some details about announcing your campaigns but make sure to:
- Create a dedicated announcement post via Reels (and publish it to your main feed). A corresponding post via Instagram Stories can help you get more eyes on your campaign.
- Consider cross-promoting your Instagram Reels campaign via other channels. This includes TikTok, Twitter, Facebook and your email list. Promoting through multiple marketing channels is important when you’re running a giveaway. Doing so can help you gain more Instagram followers from customers elsewhere.
- Confirm your campaign’s hashtag and call-to-action in your Instagram bio.
Note: If you plan on running a multi-week or multi-month campaign, be prepared to post about your UGC promotion more than once. Given how fickle the current Instagram algorithm is, many followers might not see your initial announcement. Use Stories as a way to consistently promote your UGC campaign without spamming your followers’ feeds.
5. Engage Your Followers and Collect Your UGC
So, what do you do once the content starts rolling in? Good question!
For starters, be ready to engage with every Reel created under your hashtag.
Doing so may be time-consuming if your campaign pops off. That said, even small interactions such as “Likes” and comments can delight your followers. Personalized comments are a huge plus!
That’s because people love when brands engage with them. They’ll remember it, too!
Be prepared to track and collect any UGC that comes in from your campaign once it kicks off. Again, this is where a branded hashtag can be a lifesaver. Hashtags aggregate posts over time, giving you quick access to any UGC affiliated with your promotion.
Pay close attention to your regular @tags that pop up in your inbox and notifications, too. This can help you spot UGC from customers that didn’t end up using your hashtag for whatever reason.
Important: Make sure you ask permission prior to publishing UGC Reels from a customer! Don’t forget to tag them, too. For more best practices for reposting customer Reels, check out our in-depth breakdown of how to repurpose UGC.
How to Run a UGC Reels Campaign With Less Legwork
Whew! We’ll bite: putting together a Reels campaign requires a lot of legwork.
That said, doing so is a smart move for brands today.
Reels are among the top-performing posts on Instagram and customers love creating them. With a UGC Reels campaign, you maximize your brand's reach and engage your most dedicated followers.
If you want to speed up and scale your UGC on Instagram, Statusphere can help. Our full-service influencer marketing platform makes it easy to source customer content at scale.
Since we matchmake brands with handpicked creators from our network, you get quality content from people that want to post about your products. Statusphere also manages the time-consuming tasks of your campaigns like fulfillment and reporting.
Want to learn more about how the process works? Get in touch with one of our consumer-to-consumer marketing specialists today to see how we can get more people posting about your brand ASAP.
This article was first published in November 2020. It was last updated July 14, 2022.