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How Etsy revamped their Instagram strategy through UGC + content creators

More videos, more results, without more costs

I could use a nap. I’ve been running myself ragged—getting this business to a more efficient place, twice-a-day workouts to get in basketball shape (including my new love, hot yoga), figuring out my first Future Social hire. All self-imposed, all good things, and exactly why I need some help.

But hey, I’ve got something cool for ya. I’m giving away 5 free social media consultations! We’ll talk about your social wants, needs, dreams, all on the hour—Paysafe picked up the tab. If you’re interested in a free session, sign up right here.

Okay, let’s look at arts & crafts.

Etsy’s award-winning UGC approach

Social media must’ve been pretty easy for Etsy in the static image days. The millions of creators selling wonderfully crafted items on their site could provide amazing, original product photos—it was an endless, automatic user-generated content stream.

But social pivoted to video (can we finally say pivoted in past tense?) and static imagery doesn’t get you the reach of, say, an Instagram Reel. That presented an interesting challenge for Etsy—from their Shorty Awards case study: “how do you tell the story of your brand through video when you don’t actually have access to video, video production, and don’t own the product?”

The new Etsy strategy

The dream in content creation: building high-performing social as efficiently and affordably as possible (unless you’re an agency, then your dream is probably slapping insane production costs on social shoots because you’re an agency).

Etsy found that blend by getting their video content in 3 ways:

  • Seller-created content

  • Co-created content with hired video creators

  • Original content

Let’s dive into each, look at some pretty examples, then talk costs + results at after the analysis.

Etsy’s UGC approach

When a brand builds a social strategy around user-generated content (UGC), it usually starts with social listening, scouring Instagram and TikTok via hashtags and keywords to see who’s making content with your product. That’s how you end up with cat hammock content.

Not kidding. Atelier Fougère makes macrame cat hammocks, which they sell on Etsy. They’re also pretty great at making their own content around their product (I mean, again, cat hammock—I’d watch that all day). Reaching out to post one of the seller’s videos on the @Etsy Instagram made sense for everyone, pulling a cool 20,000 likes and countless d’awws.

If you see someone making great social videos about your brand’s product, why not shoot your shot? Send the DM. They’ll be thrilled to hear from the official brand & likely motivated to work together—sometimes they’ll even let you post their content for free (though a little cash is the best practice).

Want great video content? Hire video creators

It’s a simple idea, ain’t it? Outsource your needs to experts. Don’t try to make content you’re not great at creating—find people who are!

Etsy recruited various video creators not just to help them make content, but to put a human face to content. Seeing a person’s smile & emotions has become a bigger need in the TikTok generation, and being in front of the camera is a skillset your internal social folks may not possess—hence, creators!

Take a look at this video perfect for cozy szn. Etsy is highlighting a big ol’ scarf with a big ol’ pocket. That’s gonna be better displayed by someone showing the camera how it looks on person and what it fits. The same goes for this bathroom upgrades video—someone’s gotta be a hand model & frame the camera correctly to watch someone replace those shower rings, both good jobs for a natural creator.

My personal fav from Etsy’s Instagram

You know from last week’s newsletter that I’m big on story-first, product second content. Etsy earned 525,000+ likes on one video framed around kintsugi, the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with gold lacquer, intentionally highlighting the piece’s imperfections.

Yes, at the core of the video was an Etsy seller’s kintsugi kit, but the video focused on explaining the art style, then showing how that kit can repair that bowl you broke last week. It’s interesting to learn about! Which makes us curious to buy the product, especially if you’re a klutz like me.

More videos + more results, without more money

It’s fun looking at content, but what’s really cool is the financial context for ther company’s results. Etsy saw a 126% increase in video views year over year, AND increased video output by 70%, all while their staffing and content budget stayed flat. EFFICIENCY! PERFORMANCE! TOGETHER! That’s what more of us should be striving for.

You can read more about Etsy’s Instagram + see more examples in their Shorty Awards case study.

Free social + brand consulting?!

Paysafe’s a big reason my newsletter could go indepedent—they believed in the biz & immediately became a presenting sponsor when I went solo. Love working with these folks.

Our newest thing: we’re offering 5 small businesses a free social media consultation! Maybe you’re a freelancer who needs a personal brand, or a marketing team of one at a start-up, or an exotic pet store (an actual biz I’m talking to). Sign-up right over here to win a free consultation + promotion via the Paysafe blog!

Social Cues

There are so many social big thinkers out there, writing all kinds of amazing strategies, analysis, and breakdowns. All ships rise with the tide, so here are a few reads from other places I think you could learn from.

Like, a universal store where you’d buy things, not individual creator stores. I guess they’re tired of “as seen on TikTok” being everyone else’s sales pitch?

I’ve long believed Twitter should try to tackle long-form content. Well, this is long-form. No, your brand shouldn’t be pumping out 25k tweets.

I wanna help small businesses learn social, so I teamed up with Paysafe to offer 5 SMBs free consulting sessions, which we’ll turn into blog + video content! Sign up via the above link