What is User-Generated Content? And Why is it Important?
User-generated content (UGC) has been around for ages but is finally coming into its own as the latest generation of websites, apps and digital devices embrace it.
While it’s true that user-generated content is an essential medium of modern marketing, you need to approach it carefully. You may think that having people post content on your website will increase the number of subscribers to your email list, but that’s not always the case. For example, people who see a review of your product may be more likely to become a customer, but their likelihood is still very low.
In the digital age, we are all creating content marketing online. But what does that mean?
What Is User-Generated Content?
User-generated content is any content created by a user and made available for viewing and sharing by others. The term is loosely used for the content shared through online social networks (such as Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and LinkedIn), online blogs, photo and video sharing services (such as Flickr, YouTube, and Instagram), and forums (like Reddit).
The term came into the English language around 2001 and was coined by Chris Anderson, the founder of Wired magazine and an early marketing blogger.
It’s what people post on sites like YouTube and Instagram; others create that. While UGC is increasingly popular in content marketing, some companies use it differently.
Rather than taking advantage of its potential to boost engagement and drive more traffic, they use it to sell their products. This type of content can be powerful in marketing, as it taps into a human desire to give something back to the community.
In a recent survey, 91% of consumers say user-generated content is one of the most credible forms of online content marketing today. It’s easy to understand why.
Consumers can share their own experiences or opinions about a company or product directly from their own lives. It’s personal, authentic, and relatable. In addition, user-generated content often has a better SEO value than professionally-written content.
What Are the Benefits of User-Generated Content?
The first and most apparent benefit of user-generated content is that it provides content you’d otherwise have to pay someone else to create.
Another benefit of UGC is that it helps build a community around your brand. It’s an excellent marketing opportunity for you to engage in genuine dialogue with real customers, and you can learn from the feedback. However, UGC isn’t for everyone. You have to be very careful about how you approach it because UGC can cause many problems if done wrong.
Ensure you’re doing it right and have the right tools and resources to manage any negative repercussions.
A recent study by The State of Consumer Marketing found that brands open to user-generated content are more likely to have a higher conversion rate and stronger brand sentiment.
Another interesting statistic found in the report states that “when brands are more open to user-generated content, consumers are happier with the brand.”
The research found that people who had a greater interest in the brand were twice as likely to share content and were also twice as likely to engage with the brand online.
It Gives Customers a Voice
Another well-known persuasion technique is the voice of a customer. For user-generated content marketing to work as a persuasive technique for customers, they must believe that what they hear from real customers is worth paying attention to.
The problem is that most people don’t want to spend their time listening to others’ opinions about what they should or shouldn’t be doing.
UGC solves this problem by presenting a third party with an opportunity to share their opinion and experience with the world. These third parties can help us better understand what’s working and what isn’t.
User-Generated Content Creates an Environment of Trust
UGC sites like Pinterest, Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Amazon are all examples of sites that have done a remarkable job of providing content without editorial direction. They don’t have to be professional writers. They don’t even have to be the owners of the content. It’s what their audiences produce that gets them to the top of search results and helps build the trust factor.
In a recent survey, over 90% of consumers said they trusted reviews online as much as they trusted recommendations from friends and family. If your company or brand puts your trust in user-generated content marketing, there is no reason to fear it.
This makes it the perfect marketing strategy for any business, especially startups looking to grow into a larger market. The key is having the right balance between being genuine and having a sense of humour.
The Content Marketing Revolution: What It Means for Businesses
The digital world has exploded with new ways to market products and services in the past decade. While the traditional advertising model has become increasingly ineffective, marketers have been experimenting with innovative ideas to try and attract attention.
They’ve found that the web provides many opportunities to generate demand for their offerings. Many companies have discovered that they can take advantage of a trend that’s proliferating in popularity: the rise of content marketing.
A recent report published by McKinsey, “The Content Marketing Revolution,” states, “Companies that succeed with content marketing typically spend more on content creation than their peers, deploy better content strategies, and generate more leads, customers, and revenues.”
They also found that companies that don’t successfully adopt content marketing tend to be less successful overall. While it doesn’t provide direct business outcomes, it can improve the brand’s reputation and credibility.
Users Are Better at Creating Content Than Publishers
Content marketers have the power to create content that is much more effective than other forms of marketing. The problem with content marketers is that they focus too much on their product and not enough on the customer.
An excellent way to create content is to ask questions to help your customers and lead them toward your product. When you can provide good answers to these questions, you will be helping your customers find what they want. The better your answers are, the better you’ll be able to create content that your customers will be interested in. That means you’ll attract more customers to your site.
That’s why we recommend that you answer as many questions as possible.
How to Make UGC Work for Your Business
The first step is to identify and understand what UGC is. UGC is the content that your customers share with their friends and followers on social media.
This includes comments, likes, and shares on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and other sites. UGC is one of the most significant ways people connect to your brand and share your content.
This type of content is also called social sharing or social advertising. This can help your business by driving traffic to your site and increasing your visibility on social media. In addition, you can also make use of this type of content to promote your business. Many businesses rely on it heavily.
So, how do you find UGC? Many platforms can help you.
Some companies specialise in UGC, and they can help you. These include Social Bro and Followerwonk. Social Bro can help you get the data you need from social networks.
You will be able to look up how many likes your company has. You will also find out how popular a particular product is. Followerwonk is similar to Social Bro, where you can get the same information. Still, Followerwonk will allow you to search for specific accounts on various social networks, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube.
UGC has the potential to drive sales, but the challenge is making it work for your business. It’s easy to see why: UGC is inherently low cost, low overhead, and free, with the potential to bring in tons of qualified traffic and social shares.
But you have to do more than sit back and watch. UGC has to be a part of your marketing strategy if it is to work. How can you take advantage of UGC?
Here are three ways to turn it into revenue for your business:
Engage with Influencers and Other Bloggers
There’s a reason why influencer marketing is such an effective tactic. They can influence the masses, which means you can reach millions of people who may not be familiar with you or your brand. They also have the power to engage with their audience in a way that is natural to them.
So, when you’re targeting these influencers, you need to understand how they communicate and what type of content they share on their platforms.
Today’s consumers don’t just watch TV commercials. They also read about brands on blogs. So, why not reach out to influencers on their blogs?
A word of caution: Be sure to pitch in your voice and not the company. Consumers can get defensive when they hear a message that doesn’t seem to come from them.
Integrate UGC into Your Online Marketing Strategy
UGC could be used as the basis for articles, videos, presentations, infographics, and more. Another great way to use UGC in your marketing strategy is to let people submit suggestions or ideas on your products or services. You could do this through comments, social media shares, or any other place where your audience shares their thoughts.
By harnessing the power of the internet’s vast supply of content, you can capture leads and connect with your audience in a new and powerful way.
It’s an approach that can be applied to a broad range of marketing channels and is particularly effective for driving conversions on mobile devices.
Best Practices for Managing User-Generated Content
So, you want to use user-generated content on your site. It’s a good idea, but you need to consider several factors when it comes to managing the creation of user-generated content:
- Ensure you have a system in place to capture and track user-generated content.
- Give them a specific and clear path for how they can post content and get credit for it.
- Ensure that your company’s privacy policies are up-to-date and that you are allowing the appropriate level of access.
According to a recent study, 70 per cent of small businesses use social media, but only 25 per cent of those use Facebook. That’s a big gap.
We decided to look at what’s working and what’s not in the social media world and found some surprising trends. Here’s what we discovered:
- The top three channels for managing user-generated content are Facebook, TikTok, and Instagram
- The most popular content formats for sharing are videos and photos
- Videos get the most engagement, followed by links, polls, and status updates
Types of User-Generated Content
There are three basic types of content that people publish online. They are videos, photos, and articles.
People choose one type of content based on their personality, what kind of message they want to convey, and the platform they are using. For example, a photo might work best if you are an author because it is visual and text is limited. However, if you create a video for your YouTube channel, you might decide between a video and a photo. There is no single content type that works best for every personality type.
7 Tips for Creating a User-Generated Content Strategy
Even if you’ve got a great content strategy and editorial calendar, you need to be ready to pivot and adapt to the unexpected. We’ve all been there – trying to plan or implement a strategy, and the unexpected happens. That’s why having a plan B is so important.
In the event of any change, no matter how big or small, having a plan B makes sure you’re prepared for anything.
To help with the strategy, I asked seven experts in content marketing what they’d tell newbies who are just starting. Here’s what they had to say.
1 – Create a team of subject experts.
If you’re interested in building a business that solves a problem that people care about, you should start by identifying the top people who could help you solve that problem. Then you should reach out to these experts.
It would help if you took some time to learn who they are, what they’ve done, and what they’re good at. You’ll know exactly where to find the experts you need to help you get started.
2 – Collaborate with other departments to build out a strategy.
Once you’ve determined your goal, start brainstorming ways to reach it. Think about the different ways people engage with your brand online and offline.
Do they like to read, watch videos, interact with you on social media, visit your website, subscribe to your newsletter, etc.? It’s essential to look for opportunities to create new interactions with customers on your terms, but it’s equally important to explore the various opportunities available in the digital world.
To take full advantage of all the channels you’re using, you’ll need to collaborate with other departments to create an integrated plan.
3 – Make sure to create user-friendly content.
To engage customers with user-generated content, you need to understand what makes them tick and give them what they want. And if it’s anything like how I see myself in my own business, it’s usually a little of everything.
You’ll have fun creating content, and hopefully, that fun will spread throughout your community.
4 – Give the team room to be creative.
One of the most fun ways to get your audience involved in your campaign is to give them a simple task that allows them to show off their creativity.
In 2014, Tumblr gave its users the chance to choose a brand to support to be voted as the best-supported brand of the year. By letting people use the Tumblr platform to show off their brand identity, Tumblr raised over 1 million dollars for the cause.
This goes hand in hand with another point on this list—building a community around your company and brand. You can always start there if you’re not already engaged with your target audience through social media and online communities.
It’s a good idea to start with building a community around your products. The best way to do this is to put together a “story” that is compelling and interesting to your target audience.
Tell your story, and let your audience be a part of it. If you’re working with a big team, this can be a constructive way to give everyone a voice.
5 – Have fun and experiment.
Think about all of the places where you get exciting content — and how those places differ from the kinds of places where you get stuff that is just ordinary and boring.
We’re talking about where the content comes from your customers themselves rather than the company itself. The content might come from things that people write in comments on your blog, from Twitter mentions, forum discussions, forums that you host, questions that your visitors leave on your site, or polls that you conduct.
If you think about this idea, you can start thinking about ways to use UGC to spice up your blog posts, rather than just using your blog to get more people to see you on Facebook.
Experiment with different ways to collect, curate, and share user-generated content. This could mean trying out different kinds of social media features, allowing users to post photos and text, and allowing them to leave comments on products and services.
If you don’t have the money or resources to purchase user-generated content, don’t let that stop you from trying it out.
Don’t just put up a Facebook page or Twitter account. Be active. The people who interact with you on social media are most likely to spread the word about your product or service.
Engagement is the key. Please do what you can to encourage others to share their experience with you and your business.
This is a straightforward strategy but is one of the most powerful because it’s free and easy to execute. All you need is a compelling product or service, a way to engage your potential customers online, and a good amount of energy and drive.
The key to the strategy is to let your audience do all the work. Users love contributing to sites where they feel like they have a voice.
It can be a community or even a business page that allows users to share and discuss ideas and information related to the brand.
The idea is that the more engaged they are in sharing their views and opinions about your company, the more they will care about your brand. And caring about a brand is one of the most potent ways to get people to recommend your product to their friends.
7 – Engage with influencers and critics.
To make this happen, we have to be open to the idea that content marketing and PR should be mutually supportive.
I know some marketers see PR as something done to them—something to be avoided. They are wrong. This isn’t a zero-sum game. The more you integrate PR into your strategy, the more PR you’ll get.
By giving influencers and critics access to your products, you’re essentially engaging with them on their turf. They know the audience they serve.
By offering them access to the platform, you allow them to share your content across their networks. You’re effectively telling them, “Hey, this is cool.” This can lead to incredible opportunities.
User-Generated Content is the idea that everyone has a voice that should be heard. Collective intelligence is created by allowing people to share their opinions, insights, and experiences on platforms like social media.
This collective intelligence can provide invaluable information, which can help users to solve problems, make better purchasing decisions and get the best results for themselves.
UGC is becoming increasingly important as the number of people using social media increases, and it continues to play a massive role in the future of businesses.
Want to learn more about user-generated content? It’s where customers submit feedback on products and services and share product reviews and recommendations.