How to Use Fan-Made Instagram User Generated Content as Social Proof

How to Use Fan-Made Instagram User Generated Content as Social Proof for Your Company

How to Use Fan-Made Instagram User Generated Content as Social Proof

How can Instagram user generated content be leveraged in an effective way? And why is it important today?

The growing number of sponsored posts and paid ads has sparked the social media authenticity crisis

Although 83% of Instagrammers discover new products and services on the platform, modern customers don’t trust brands and they seek out a social proof before making the purchase decision. 

To ease the worried minds of your potential customers and stay ahead of your competitors, use fan-made Instagram user-generated content as social proof on Instagram.

What is Social Proof?

The term social proof was coined back in 1984, when Robert Cialdini, a professor of marketing, business and psychology at Stanford University, published his book on persuasion and marketing, Influence<span style=”font-weight: 400;”>.

According to Robert Cialdini, social proof is a phenomenon where customers copy other people’s actions to determine the appropriate mode of behavior in a given situation. When it comes to Instagram shopping, social proof demonstrates the real customers who have chosen your product or service, and therefore it helps potential customers to rely on your brand.

Social proof comes in various types and forms, but fan-made content, also known as user-generated content or UGC, is the most important type that gives wonderful results.

The Importance of Fan-Made Instagram User Generated Content for Social Proof

Modern technologies make it easier for common people to capture moments of their lives with ease. It doesn’t take much time or effort to take a smartphone and take a photo, so it’s no wonder that people upload an average of 1.8 billion digital images every single day.

This means social media users love creating fan-made content. When people mention your product in their images somehow, it shows their brand loyalty and trust. Simply put, fan-made content helps to provide social proof without putting much effort.

If you want to use fan-made content as social proof on Instagram, it’s important to find out the common types of this content. So, let’s dive in.

Types of Fan-Made Instagram User Generated Content

1. Brand mentions

A sense of belonging is a common human need, so people feel special when their favorite brands post their images on business profiles. Thus, it’s no wonder that loyal customers are happy to take photos of themselves that feature their favorite brands. Users tag companies’ profiles to get discovered and published. People feel recognized and brands get social proof. Win-win.

For example, Madewell often uses customers’ photos on its Instagram profile. The company adds a call to action that encourages people to share their images for a chance to get featured on the brand’s profile. 

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Madewell invites users to tag its account when sharing brand mentions. However, it’s not the only one way to find these photos. Some companies create special brand hashtags for customers who share their photos on social media. These hashtags make it easier for brands to discover content their loyal customers produce and increase the chances to get featured on the profiles.

2. Customer Reviews

With the growing popularity of Instagram, it doesn’t take much time or effort for people to do research and find out whether a product can meet their needs and wants. Why? Modern customers are shouting their experiences (both good and bad) to their following.

Simply put, people share customer reviews to help businesses improve their products and potential consumers make the right purchase decisions. And if your customers share positive reviews, this means an opportunity to provide social proof. Just take a look at an example from Balibody:

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And if you want to go the extra mile, you can create customer review videos. Not only does it help to make video information that is better for perception, but it also looks more trustworthy.

3. Success Stories

Another type of fan-made content is success stories. It’s no secret that people buy solutions, not products. If you have loyal customers who have solved their problems with your company, it’s a great way to tell potential clients how your product or service can help them and provide social proof at the same time as you can invite these people to share their success stories.

For instance, Sellfy often invites its customers for interviews and then creates social media graphic quotes to hook the attention of followers and encourage them to read success stories on the blog:

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The main idea of success stories is to show other potential customers how your product or service can help them solve their problems. And this type of fan-made content works well if you need to ease the worried minds of people who are doubting whether your product is worth giving a try.

4. Influencer Endorsements

If you have loyal customers who are ready to produce fan-made content, that’s great. But if you’re a small business, you may have trouble generating user-generated photos. Thus, you need to set an example for other customers, and inviting influencers for collaboration is a great way to produce influencer-generated content (IGC) that can serve as fan-made content.

In the era of sponsored posts, it doesn’t take much time, effort, or budget to find an influencer who matches your brand values. According to one report by InfluencerDB, there are almost 560k influencers on Instagram and the market size for influencer marketing will reach $8 billion in 2020. This means every business can find a niche influencer for creating fan-made content.

And if you want to see how influencer endorsements look like in action, take a look at an example from Lulus: 


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Since the company uses hashtag #lulusambassador, it’s no doubt that Lulus collaborates with fashion influencers who can spread the word about the company and therefore build brand awareness and increase brand trust. If you’re just starting on Instagram, you can start working with micro-influencers who don’t charge much, yet provide high engagement rates.

3 Ways to Use Fan-Made Content as Social Proof on Instagram

Now that you know what types of fan-made content you can share on Instagram, it’s time to find out three main ways on how to use this content as social proof so that more Instagram visitors and followers can find it without putting much time or effort. Let’s dive in.

Feature a Separate Instagram Story Highlight Album

Today, people have an attention span of 8 seconds only, so it’s important to hook your target audience fast. When it comes to Instagram marketing, the easiest way to improve customer experience is to make the most out of your Instagram bio

For example, you can include a brand hashtag and add a call to action that will encourage your customers to share fan-made content on Instagram. Plus, it’s a great idea to create a separate Instagram Story Highlight album that appears right below the bio section. Here’s how it can look like:

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Although Instagram Stories disappear within 24 hours, having a separate Highlights album helps to make your stories permanent and help visitors discover important content without clogging the main feed up. Moreover, you can choose a descriptive name that will hint followers at what they can find after tapping on the album. That’s the easiest way to keep fan-made content in one place and help people who seek social proof.

Publish on the Main Feed

People spend a considerable amount of time on Instagram and 83% of users scroll their feeds to discover new products and services. To meet your potential customers’ needs, you need to use fan-made content in your Instagram marketing strategy and publish these images on the main feed.

User-generated content boosts engagement, but it can also help acquire customers. When posting images, you can include a caption and tell your followers more about your product and its benefits. 
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What is more, fan-made content looks more authentic than brand content, so people feel more loyal to companies that publish customers’ images on the profile. 

Repurpose Customer Feedback for IGTV

The popularity of video content is on its rise. More and more people choose video content over photos, and Instagrammers love videos, too.  According to Instagram, the platform has an 80% increase in time spent watching video on Instagram. 

Thus, it’s a good idea to repurpose customer feedback for IGTV: Not only can you upload long-form videos, but you can also keep up with the trends. Check out how Airbnb uses IGTV for sharing fan-made content:


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Want to know the best part? You can upload a long-form video to your IGTV channel and share the teaser in Instagram Stories or the main feed to interest more followers to watch the full version.

As you can see, there are three main ways to use fan-made content as social proof on Instagram, but it’s you who decides what works best for your company. To understand what is the right way of using fan-made content on Instagram for your business, it’s a good idea to use a social media reporting tool that can track metrics and tell what your audience loves more.

The Bottom Line

Modern customers are savvy and they crave for social proof before making the purchase decisions. Whether they read customer reviews or check out brand mentions, they need to make sure that other customers are satisfied with the quality of products or services.

Since people love taking photos, it’s a great way to stay authentic on Instagram and prove to your followers that your product is worth giving a try. 

So, have you ever used fan-made Instagram user generated content as social proof on Instagram? What is your favorite strategy for using it? 

Learn more about, and harness the full power of using user-generated content in your Instagram marketing, with this great infographic from Squarelovin.

Learn more about, and harness the full power of using user-generated content in your Instagram marketing, with this great infographic.

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Val Razo
Val Razo is an expert on Instagram Marketing. Val is a freelance Social Media Marketing consultant with 5+ years of experience helping small and medium-sized businesses. Val claims that Instagram has great sales potential, so she recommends both big and small brands to use this platform for business growth. Follow her on Twitter to stay tuned for more.
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