Believe it or not, there is potential for businesses to harness preexisting-created content without actually creating it themselves. This is called user-generated content (UGC). Any content created by unpaid contributors or fans can be classified as user generated content. This can range from videos, photos, reviews, blogs, and more and can be integrated into your current content marketing strategy.
User-generated content is nothing new, but many businesses and organizations still haven’t embraced it. An early example of UGC is Burberry’s Art of the Trench campaign. The Coca-Cola Share a Coke campaign is probably one that most of us are familiar with. In fact, there are over half a million photos on Instagram that bare the #ShareACoke hashtag. If the big brands aren’t proof enough that UGC works, consider this; according to Bazaarvoice and the Center for Generational Kinetics, “84% of millennials report that UGC from strangers has at least some influence on what they buy.” Brands are changing the content marketing game by harnessing the capability of user-generated content. So, how can you utilize UGC? Here are a few tips.
1. Use genuine reviews on your website. If your target audience is looking for a product or service and comes across your website, it is likely that a review from an unbiased source will appear more credible than praise that you provide yourself. If you can identify and show that experienced consumers choose your brand, you’ll likely drive conversions. One surprising statistic from the same Center for Generational Kinetics study is that, “44% of millennials trust experienced consumers over friends and family.” Additionally, 31% of boomers feel the same.
2. Ask permission to share UGC on your social media channels. When managing your online presence, creating unique content is half the battle. A great way to use UGC is on social media. Ask your fan’s permission and share photos, videos, or more. Some social media channels, like Instagram, require you to get a separate app to share UGC. In the same breath, encourage your social media fans to engage with your brand and share UGC by designating appropriate hashtags.
3. Use social listening to determine what your customers like, dislike, and what is trending. User generated content gives marketers much more information than we’ve ever had before. Do you want to know how fans feel about a new product? You can find out. Would you like to determine which acts to host at your event center? Use a twitter poll. There are so many ways to conduct research online with social listening tools. This is a huge knowledge mine for brands.
4. Create a content hub that showcases all your supporters. If you have fans that are already engaging with you, use their content to feed a content hub and share their messages. This helps your content hub, as well as your brand, appear authentic and transparent. It also means that your website will have a constant stream of unique content and supporters can share their own unique perspective.
5. Use UGC to promote events. If your brand hosts an annual event, user-generated content is perfect to use as promotional material. Again, it is important to ask permission before using content. UGC likely communicates the true vibe and caliber of an event from the attendee’s perspective. That is invaluable to potential attendees who are considering an event the following year.
6. Encourage your employees to create UGC to showcase your company culture. UGC, or in this case, employee-generated content, is valuable when aiming to showcase your brand’s culture and boost recruitment efforts. Hootsuite, for example, has a strong #HootsuiteLife campaign which tons of their employees use. Potential employees can see the office day-to-day from the lens of actual employees, not a stuffy recruitment website.
UGC possibilities extend far beyond these six suggestions. Content format is always changing, so the possibilities are as well. If you are looking to spice up your content marketing strategy, consider adding user-generated content to the mix.