Guide to User-Generated Content: But what if someone else developed that content for you? That’s the idea behind user-generated content. Use it to work, and it can take your brand to the next level – but there’s no guarantee of success.
Most entrepreneurs are already familiar with the principles of content marketing. You write, write or create content from scratch, promote it, and then reap the benefits in the form of increased brand awareness and traffic.
But what if someone else developed that content for you?
That’s the idea behind user-generated content. Use it to your advantage, and it can take your brand to the next level – but there’s no guarantee of success.
What is user-generated content?
If you don’t know, user-generated content is any content created by your users (including customers, fans and followers).
It includes things like:
- Social content. If someone leaves a comment about your brand, posts a review, or shares a video of them interacting with your product, this is a form of user-generated content.
- Forum posts. Some brands are clearly trying to build a brand community by running forums where users can ask questions, leave comments and interact with each other. Sometimes this is done to solve problems. Other times, it’s just to somehow draw attention to the brand.
- Blog comments. If you regularly write new blog posts, this is a great opportunity to gather comments and promote further discussion in the form of a topic.
- Photos, videos, etc. Visual forms of content, including photos and videos, can be used to promote your best products.
- Reviews and testimonials. Of course, even custom reviews and testimonials can be considered user-generated content – and bring you some of the best benefits.
Why is user-generated content valuable?
So why is this strategy so valuable for brands?
- Minimal manual effort. For starters, if users generate this content, you don’t have to do the dirty work. Instead of paying a full-time employee or hiring a content agency, you can hire your users to do the work for you. Obviously, this is a small simplification, but user-generated content is still very cost-effective.
- SEO Benefits. User-generated content also carries SEO benefits. Any content you create for your blog and website serves to increase your authority and rank new pages in search engines. If the content is high-quality, new and relevant, its SEO ranking can be significant.
- External credibility. Customers are much more likely to trust the word of an existing customer or fan than the word of an unfamiliar company. Reading a review posted by a previous customer will be far more persuasive than reading a promotional text. Accordingly, user-generated content can help you build external trust.
- New Voices. If you have your own team of content developers, even if they are very talented, over time their work may become obsolete. The voice they create can become repetitive and uninteresting to regular subscribers. Permitting user-generated content can help you get an influx of new opinions and viewpoints that will bring variety to your blog, website or social media platform.
- Developing a brand community. This is also an opportunity to build a brand community from the ground up. If you develop your best content generators and engage in conversations, you can improve public perception of your brand while increasing customer loyalty.
Tips for creating more user-generated content
What steps can you take to create more user-generated content?
This is probably the most important element of your strategy, as users don’t typically generate content for your brand on their own.
- Ask. One of the easiest ways to get more content is to ask for it directly. Ask your subscribers to leave reviews or write testimonials for your brand. Open up your blog to accept new content from guests. Tell your fans you want to see their best photos of your product in action.
- Run a contest. You can also try running a contest on social media, further encouraging participation. For example, you could ask followers to post a photo or video of themselves in which they will be entered into a drawing for a $100 gift card in exchange for their message. This is just a mild form of bribery.
- Incentivize with other rewards. You can also incentivize user participation with other rewards. For example, you can set up a loyalty program or rewards program for your forum members.
- Promote your best examples. If you come across user-generated content that excels, such as an interesting video or a great guest post, be sure to promote it. Increased visibility may encourage other users to follow your example.
- Participate. Finally, participate in conversations and directly engage users. This will help build a stronger relationship between the brand and the consumer, and people will feel more comfortable contributing their content.
With the right user-generated content strategy, you can gain more recognition, build a better reputation and generate more traffic for your brand. It takes time to gain momentum, but with the right investment and enough patience, you will reap huge rewards.