Content Marketing · Search Marketing

4 Fun Ways to Get User-Generated Content on Your Website

Are you tired of spending lots of time and money writing blog posts day in and day out to ensure you have fresh, quality content on your website? If so, it may be time to consider a user-generated content strategy.

What Is User-Generated Content?

First off, let’s define user-generated content (UGC) and why it’s useful:

UCG is content that is generated by people who visit your site. Pretty straightforward. Examples include product reviews, blog post comments, and forum entries.

What Are the Benefits of User-Generated Content?

Some benefits of UCG include:

  • Increased User Engagement: When people have the chance to write their mind on your website, they tend to stick around longer. Also, they also want to read what others are saying and make connections. It has the potential of creating a great community for your audience.
  •  More Effective Marketing: We trust reviews more than we trust traditional marketing pitches. If you can get customers to write reviews about your products or services (good and bad!) it is a lot more effective than you telling your visitors what a great offering you have.
  • Improved SEO: Of course, fresh content is good for SEO. With UCG you get new content daily without lifting a finger (sweet!). The search engines like that.

Now that we know what UCG is, and why it’s awesome, let’s talk about some fun ways to get it.

User-Generated Blogs with a Twist

Who says your audience can’t blog for you? Getting users to create blog posts for you is a great way to increase engagement and build a community around your brand.

GoodBlogs is a UGC blogging platform that allows visitors to submit blog posts. What’s cool about it is that readers can vote for their favorite posts. And bloggers whose post reaches the “Top Posts” page get paid (for example, $10)!

This incentive drives quantity and quality content and creates an improved experience for visitors who are just there to read content, thus increasing return traffic, social sharing, and consequently more exposure for your brand.

According to the GoodBlogs website, The Flaming Vegan is an example of a GoodBlog. In the first three months, it “published over 500 original user-submitted blog posts.” And a month later, they had over 500 new registrations opting in to receive information from them. That’s the power of UGC.

A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words

People love to take pictures. Just take a look at this content omniverse infographic and note that 3,000 images are uploaded to Facebook every second.

Encourage your audience to take pictures using your products, doing wacky things (just not too wacky) related to your business/services/products, or posing in front of (or inside) your place of business.

To see this concept in action, check out Bear Naked’s “How do you live Bear Naked?” page. (The lasting impact of this strategy is illustrated by the fact that 2+ years after last visiting their site, I still remember this page…)

The Age of Video

Not only does your audience love taking pictures, they also love shooting videos. With the advances in video-editing technology and its relative accessibility, anybody can be a movie star, director, or producer. And people love watching videos, too! Going back to the content omniverse infographic, we find that YouTube had 1 trillion views in 2011. That’s a lot of video watching.

Learn more about user-generated content videos.

How Are We Doing?

Remember those suggestion boxes at the gym, doctor’s office, and grocery stores? They may still exist in various locations, but more and more, the suggestion boxes are moving online.

People like to give feedback—good and bad. It makes them feel like they have input into their future happiness with your product or service. So why not create a virtual suggestion box on your website and allow users to post their thoughts, ideas, and complaints?

Of course, this requires a certain amount of moderation, but it’s a great way to get content. You can even take it a step further and give away prizes for the “best suggestion of the month” to encourage participation.

IdeaScale is an example of a virtual suggestion box platform. According to the website, they help you “bring out the best ideas from your customers and stakeholders by giving them a platform to share, vote, and discuss feedback.”

Smart Organizations Get UGC

Aside from the grand master of UGC (amazon.com) and the top social media platforms, here are some other organizations that have done a nice job increasing engagement with user-generated content:

The list goes on…

Over to You!

Share a user-generated content success story in the comments. What format has worked best for you or your clients?

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Tabita Green is a writer and Internet marketing consultant. She is passionate about helping small businesses and non-profits succeed online. Connect with Tabita on Google+.

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20 thoughts on “4 Fun Ways to Get User-Generated Content on Your Website

  1. Hey guys here is your first user generated content! :)

    Seriously awesome stuff, shows you don’t have to be a super genius to have a great blog, plus it’s wicked fun too! :)

    Zayne Thompson

  2. I’m working for local newsportals in Hungary and we use to get a huge amount of UGC by promoting the call: “send your story for us!”. I think this kind of activity comes charm of the local newsportals: “Hey, I know that guy in the article!”

    It’s very intresting to see that basicly we use to get different kind of content from different counties. I mean the nature of these stories are quite different: in one of the counties they complaining continously, in another they love to boast and so on…

  3. Hi Tabita,

    That’s an awesome tip. This is the first time, I have seen a different approach to improving SEO and also a funny one.
    Can you please suggest what is the best way to do this in WordPress ?

    I know buddypress gives a community system but I doubt the user interaction in the rating and submitting posts is not that advanced. What is the best procedure you suggest for a WordPress blog ?

    1. Hi Sameer, it really depends on what you are wanting to do. If you are looking for people to be able to blog, I think GoodBlogs would work for that. Another option is simply to let users create guest posts for your blog. You can manage all that through the WordPress user management tools. BuddyPress is definitely an option too. I’m not intimately familiar with their feature set, but it looks pretty good.

    1. Yep, comments like this are also UGC. The suggestions above is really about taking it to the next level and making it even more engaging and fun for your audience.

  4. Another easy way to get UGC is to grab a “votable” list off ranker.com (most lists are embeddable), and use it as a quick blog post geared towards your visitors. For example, if you had a film blog you could grab Best Martin Scorsese Movies, and stick it up with a simple post “vote on the best and worst Scorsese movies, and at the end of the week we’ll see what you all think is the true ranking”. The users in effect build the result.

    You can either grab a list as-is off Ranker (keep the existing votes), or grab the same list but “zero out” the voting so that the voting would be unique to your blog. Bloggers with small traffic tend to do the first option because the list looks more active if there are a bunch of existing votes on it.

    Anyhow, a simple way to add both content and engagement – it’s UGC, but with a different spin.

  5. Paying for the user generated content is not good. There were a few big scandals about the paid user reviews or blogs, so I doubt if it is a good strategy. Now the giveaways are also under the question mark, even though social media business is dependent from various contest.

    When will we can see the contest like “when 100 user reviews will be reached, we will increase our discount to all the visitors by 10%”?

  6. Would you count comments as UGC? Then here’s another one ;)
    Great tips and I loved your idea Marius.
    The idea of paying for content didn’t work out well for me. I couldn’t afford to pay big and people didn’t seem too interested in smaller amounts. I had a bit of success when I offered huge discounts on hosting packages I was selling on my another site. It worked both ways ;) But it’s time I figure other ways of doing it!

  7. User generated content is good but it can also effect keyword density, so if your page is targeting a highly competitive keyword, user generated content may effect your rankings. Long ago i had read it on Joost de Valk blog.

  8. Hello Tabita:

    Thanks a lot for sharing such fantastic article. But I have few questions come after reading your article, those are, I believe there are deep relationship and dependency between UGC and visitor. Because if you can not get huge visitor you can not get UGC. So for getting UGC you have to ensure first visitor. Kindly correct me if my thinking is wrong.

    Appreciate if you please write an another article based on how to generates unique visitor flow to any web site.

    1. Hi Zishan,

      You’re right, you do need a certain amount of visitors to get user-generated content. Here’s where a little bit of advertising and social media comes in handy. If you have a really cool concept for UGC on your website, draw people in with Google/Facebook ads and make sure the content is really sharable. It won’t happen overnight, but if you have a useful, engaging website, people will eventually come.

      Good idea for a blog post – I’ll add it to the list. :)

      -Tabita

  9. Can anyone suggest some good user-generated content sites to market my content on.? I cannot seem to find many except for the usual Squidoo, Hubpages, etc.