How to Use Instagram for Marketing: 3 Ways to Drum Up Authenticity

How to use Instagram for marketing to boost your brand

If you’ve been researching how to use Instagram for marketing, you’ll see that the answer isn’t all cut-and-dry. There are about a million different ways to customize an Instagram marketing strategy to your brand, from posting engaging stories to developing your own hashtags or faithful base of followers. But one of the most effective Instagram marketing strategies — publishing user-generated images — is sorely overlooked by busy social media marketers. Don’t fret: Just keep these three foolproof tips in mind for blending UGC into your feed and engaging your audience.

Whether you’re in charge of Instagram for a local business, nonprofit or an international corporation, your job is somewhat similar: Post or repost great in-house photos and videos, keep on top of updates (Instagram stories, anyone?), reply to comments and messages, follow great accounts and scope out what customers and clients are saying about your brand. It’s all part of being a great social media manager.

But would you believe that many folks using Instagram for business aren’t taking full advantage of user-generated visuals? Not featuring photos and videos from loyal customers or snapshots from great photographers is a grave mistake in a saturated digital world.

To post a photo or video related to your brand, customers have to trust and believe in you. In essence, they’re opening up a conversation, hoping that you’ll notice and respond. So why end this conversation before it begins? When over half of internet-savvy millennials trust UGC over other content on a company’s site, it’s high time to add it to your Instagram strategy. Here are three ideas to start you off.


1. Brush up on the Legalese

Sure, this isn’t the most thrilling way to spend a few hours, but it’s absolutely necessary in the internet age. Publishing user-generated photos and videos on your feed requires written permission at the very least. And if you want UGC to be a good chunk of your Instagram strategy, its best to draft up a full-fledged licensing agreement.

While people generally enjoy being featured by brands, it’s not as simple as downloading an Instagram photo, reposting it and tagging them in the comment section. Some seasoned photographers might request payments for reshares, and others just want to hash a plan out with you and make sure your photo credit is correct. Offering “exposure” can be a slap in the face to someone that considers photography to be their full-time career and livelihood, and reposts obviously don’t pay the bills. So whatever you do, please don’t be this social media manager. Not only will creatives thank you, but they’ll be much more willing to work with you in the future.



How to Use Instagram for Marketing: Master the Legalese
Photographers, like anyone else, love to be appreciated. If you’re exploring how to use Instagram for marketing and decide on direct outreach, keep it personal in comments and messages.

When you find a photo you like, leave the photographer a courteous comment on their feed or a direct message in their inbox. It helps to draft up a message template for consistency, but make sure that it’s personalized to each photographer and that your intentions are clear. For a more human touch, sign off using your own name.

If you don’t have the team members or the time to do this kind of research and outreach, drop us a line at or hit the demo button at the end of this article. There’s no shame in that game! We’ll show you how you can use the Scopio platform to send white-labeled messages and licensing agreements to photographers without hours of searching for what you need.


2. Feature Fan Photos (and Start a Series)

This might just be the easiest way to publish engaging UGC and keep your followers interested in what you’re saying. It’ll also help you beat Instagram’s infamous algorithm, which favors consistent engagement over sporadic attention from fans and followers.



How to Use Instagram for Marketing: Start a series
Luxury cosmetics company Make Up For Ever is one of many cashing in on brand-relevant creations.

Agorapulse’s Azure Collier suggests creating an editorial calendar stocked with themed posts — think “Motivation Monday” or “Flashback Friday.” These regular postings tell your audience that they should expect content from you at certain times, and you’ll have a better chance of being noticed as users take their daily scroll.



How to Use Instagram for Marketing: Start a series
Even though this photo isn’t directly related to Patagonia as a brand, they’re still able to mobilize their audience with it. This kind of wanderlust-inducing, outdoorsy content speaks to their follower base, and anyone wondering how to use Instagram for marketing can follow their lead.

Why not start a weekly Instagram series devoted to sharing UGC from customers? Using a comment, DM or licensing agreement, gain permission to use their photo. If you’d like to take it a step further, you can interview them about their experience, share a quote or even creatively repurpose the photo if you get a license through Scopio’s platform. Either way, be sure to make it both captivating and personal to your target audience.


3. Run an Ad to Engage New Followers

With Instagram marketing, it’s not just about speaking to your current audience — but also your potential audience. And when digital marketing comes into play, the easiest way to pique someone’s attention is to stand out with spectacular visuals.

This is anything but hearsay. Brand engagement rises by 28% when people are exposed to both professional content and user-generated product videos, and young folks (read: millennials) trust UGC 50% more than other forms of media, and see it as 35% more memorable. This almost goes without saying, but UGC is closer to the content they expect from family, friends and acquaintances: People they trust.

Any competitor can run an Instagram ad with just a few dollars, so it’s up to you to create something enduring. If you’re wondering how to use Instagram for marketing in a way that’s more authentic, why not give user-generated visuals a test run instead of a boring stock photo? If it works for a real-estate investing startup, it’ll probably work for you. Browse through the companies featuring UGC below to get those mental cogs turning, or drop us an email at for a brainstorming session.


Scopio is the industry’s premier search and licensing platform for images and videos on social media. We help brands, nonprofits, companies and media outlets find and use the photos and videos that matter to their audience, from capturing content to evaluating the analytics on campaigns. Wondering how to use Instagram for marketing without sacrificing brand vision? Let’s chat. Request a demo with the button below or email Featured photo courtesy of @tom.wolf/Instagram. 

The post How to Use Instagram for Marketing: 3 Ways to Drum Up Authenticity appeared first on Scopio.

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