How To Properly Share User-Generated Content

Strong visual content is a must when it comes to increasing engagement on social media. Discover how to integrate user-generated content to your marketing.

Aside from having a well established social media strategy, having strong visual content is a must if you want to increase your reach and following on social media. To avoid spending a fortune on graphic production or photography, you have the option to curate your feed by sharing content from other social media users. These could be accounts in your network, sources of authority within your industry, or even your customers. Before you get sharing, here I share some of my social media etiquette tips and tell you the benefits of reposting content from external parties.


Back to Basics: Visual Content

Photos, videos, infographics – these are all examples of visual content that can attract people to follow your social profiles. It is widely known fact that visuals perform better than text when it comes to social media marketing. In fact:

  • According to Twitter, tweets that include photos can see 35% more retweets than those without.
  • Social Bakers reports that videos uploaded natively on Facebook now get the most reach.

The main problem with visual content is that not everyone has the skills, resources or time to create amazing visuals that actually target the right audience and make them stop mid-scroll to engage with the post itself.

The solution?

An obvious answer may be to hire someone to create your content or commit time to learning and creating content yourself. For some this is often too costly, in not only money, but in time. So, say hello to user-generated content and sharing this content to your social media profiles.


Why & How to Curate Content for Your Social Media Feed

Content curation is finding content outside of your own original content to share from your accounts. Influencers and regular consumers are getting better at creating really high quality content – the kind of content that attracts fresh eyes to your social media channels.

Curating user content is a great way to:

  • Fill in content gaps
  • Get the quality of visuals you may need
  • Show your customers love
  • Encourage users to post more about your brand

Remember, when you are looking for content to use, keep it relevant to your brand, and choose high quality material. You can integrate content created by your customers, clients, partners or influencers within your market. The content can feature your product or service, or you can pull content that reflects the lifestyle, values, overall look and feel of your business and your social presence.

While curating your feed, remember that striking a balance between original and curated content is key. Test and see what your audience responds to.


The Nitty Gritty of Repost Etiquette

Using other people’s content can get cloudy when it comes to the internet, which is why there are some basic rules you can follow to make sure your brand reputation is protected.

To be on the safe side, assume the original content creator/publisher owns the rights to their content. Social platforms like Twitter & Instagram included clauses within their terms of services that enable users to retain the rights to what they post, but also give the platforms the right to use the content posted with no fee or royalty. For you, this means that even if someone has used a branded hashtag or tagged your brand in a photo and it seems like this is enough permission to use the photo in your own feed, that may not always be the case.

If you’ve worked with influencers on a campaign, or you have created a contest to which users submit photos or videos, then breathe a little easier as these images are fair game to share and repost – just make sure this is clearly stated within the terms and conditions of the campaign.

If this isn’t the case, keep the following in mind when sharing user generated content:

Always give credit

There is nothing more frustrating than scrolling through Instagram, or Facebook and seeing your content on a page with no credit. Giving credit is the easiest way to cover yourself. Include a line at the end of your post tagging the person who originally created the content you are sharing. Something like “Photo by @UserName” or “Article shared via @UserName” can be enough. You can also integrate the credit into the post itself e.g. “We love this video from @UserName…”.

For Instagram use an app like Repost

If you would like to share a photo from Instagram, use an app like Repost to give credit to the original source. Repost adds the user’s handle to the image itself – but you should also still give them credit by tagging them in the post and it couldn’t hurt to tag them in the image too.

When in doubt, just ask…

Asking is the best way to cover yourself when sharing someone else’s content. Do this by either:

  1. Direct Message or comment on the user’s post asking for permission.
  2. Some larger companies will leave a comment with a link to guidelines and ask the user to respond ‘yes’ if they agree for it to be shared.

Don’t try to pass content off as your own

There are so many cautionary tales to this. It is also one of the worst moves you can pull on social media. You can’t expect customers to trust your advice, service or product if you aren’t transparent with what you are posting online.

Don’t alter content dramatically

…Or at all for that matter – unless you ask permission first. If the content attracted your eye, it seems like a real slap in the face to the creator if you rip it off and completely rework it. Since the creator owns the rights, they can potentially get you into serious legal trouble.

Don’t use someone else’s content to promote your work

Never use a photo or video from your audience for your own advertising or paid campaigns – unless, again, you have permission or the content was submitted by the user with the knowledge that their content would be used for this purpose. This is probably the easiest way for your business to get into trouble, if the right steps aren’t taken.

Tag the user on the networks you are sharing from

If you are reposting across various networks, do your research and tag the user appropriately on each if possible. Not only will this show that you know how to use the network properly, but this can bring extra opportunities for exposure on the designated platform.

Even if the user isn’t on the network you’re sharing to, give credit

Sometimes the profiles we want to share content from aren’t active on all the same networks that your brand may be. Even if they aren’t, still give them credit. If you can’t tag them, stick to their handles or use another method of credit e.g. ‘First Initial, Last Name’.


Reposting by Network

Sharing on Facebook

Avoid getting into trouble on Facebook, by sharing content using Facebook’s Share feature. When you share from one page to another, the share will clearly show that this content was taken from another Page with a link back to the original. You can share the post as is, or add your own caption to the share.

If it is a link from a website that you want to share, simply upload the content and add a shout out to the original source.

Sharing on Twitter

Twitter is one of the easiest networks to share content in because you can simply Retweet it. If you are uploading content for an original tweet but using visuals created by someone else, or an article published by someone else, tag their handle in your tweet or within the image.

Reposting on Instagram

Use the Repost app (or equivalent) to help quote captions and create images that have the user handles attached. If you choose to repost without the app, tag the original source in your post.

Sharing on Google+

Google+ supports ‘+1’s’, which are similar to Facebook shares and clearly state which Google+ page the content is being shared from.

Sharing on LinkedIn

LinkedIn allows for direct shares from company pages and from profile to profile, but not from one company page to another. LinkedIn will also let you tag another company/profile but only when sharing from a personal profile.

Sharing on Pinterest

Reposting on Pinterest is known as a ‘save’. Saves will clearly state where the content has originally come from.


At the end of the day, the best content is original content, So, try your best to create your own images and videos for your businesses social media marketing.

With that being said, when you lack the skills or the time to produce beautiful images or you need more engagement from your audience – sharing user-generated content is one of the best strategies to show your audience some love. Just keep these sharing basics in mind when you do so.