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 Knot – Real Weddings
- March of Dimes – Share Your Story
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?