As long as there’s been content, some it has been UGC: user-generated content. The Oxford English Dictionary was composed from user-generated slips of paper, readers of magazines and newspapers have long sent in letters to the editors, and fan fiction thrives online, to name just three examples. Wherever content is being created, we can’t seem to resist the urge to add our own two cents.
UGC is more prevalent than ever now that blog comments sections, digital forums, and online platforms allow users to publish their thoughts for free at the click of a mouse or the tap of a button. We upload our thoughts not only in words but also in images, such as the YouTube users who contribute 300 hours of video clips each minute.
All of this UGC can be beneficial to content marketers if they know how to use it. The Nielsen Consumer Trust Index recently reported that the vast majority of consumers, 92%, trust user-generated organic content more than conventional advertising.
Software company Curata’s research shows that “insufficient resources” as the number one challenge content marketers face. Through outsourcing the creation of valuable content to your users, UGC can save your business time and money as well as boosting your business’s credibility.
How? Learn these six ways UGC can benefit your business and how you can attain them.
1. Harness the Power of Content Curation
With content curation, your business sources annotate and share the most relevant, most valuable content from a third-party directly with your audience. A few of the benefits of content curation include:
• Boost your social media metrics
• Build awareness of your brand
• Establish your credibility as a thought leader
• Streamline the lead nurturing funnel
• Support lead generation
2. Grow Your Social Media Reach
UGC campaigns are closely linked with social media platforms as if the two of them were made for one another. Introducing a UGC campaign to your audience on social media is a good way to draw attention to your brand and build relationships with your clients.
Examples of well-thought-out UGC campaigns on social media include the #RedCupArt contest from Starbucks and Aerie’s Instagram #AerieReal campaign. Some strategies you can use to encourage your audience to share UGC include:
• Ask a question on Facebook or Twitter
• Create a challenge for your follower on Twitter or Facebook
• Create a custom hashtag on Instagram
• Launch a photo contest on Instagram
• Start a video contest
Your business must respond in a timely way to user content. Since you’ve asked your clients for their input, you have to acknowledge the efforts they submit to you; this is the way you’ll create meaningful interactions with individual customers and encourage new customers to interact with your brand.
When done correctly, these campaigns benefit both the customer and the business. According to Sprout Social, 75% of customers who have a good experience with a brand will share that experience on their own social media profile.
A social media-based content campaign will increase traffic to your socials, which in turn can lead to:
• A larger follower base
• An extended social media reach
• Boosted metrics such as comments, likes, retweets and shares
• Increased consumer awareness of your brand
• Increased web traffic
• More page views
3. Raise Your SEO Ranking
UGC can help your SEO campaigns in several ways. Kissmetrics reports that 25% of the search results for the 20 largest brands in the world are links to UGC. Your SEO ranking will rise if your customers submit favorable reviews.
Backlinks to your site can increase your SEO rankings. You can also optimize your keyword research by analyzing the words or phrases that users most frequently associate with your brand.
4. Get Insights Into Your Audience
Few businesses take advantage of this advantage, but UGC contains an abundance of data about your users. You can gain important insights into your audience by analyzing the content your users share with you. UGCs help you learn what your audience prefers with which to engage. If you apply data-driven content marketing principles to this data source, you can leverage this engagement to help you generate new leads and increase your sales.
You’ll want to start yours by conducting an audit of the kinds of content that comes from your audience. If your customers write reviews, pay special attention to the things they mention that your business could improve on. Look at images your users share on Twitter and other platforms and make a note of whether these images jibe with the kind of image you want your brand to project.
When planning a UGC campaign, keep in mind the alignment between the audience, format, and communication channel you’re using. For example, an Instagram photo contest probably won’t be your first choice if your business mostly markets to other businesses. If you align your campaign correctly, your users will be highly motivated to participate.
5. Make It Unique
Your users will generate UGC that looks and feels completely different from anything generated by your marketing team, and you can use this to your advantage. Fresh insights from your “outsider” audience make their blog posts, photos, reviews, and videos interesting. That interesting content is precisely what’ll keep your audience engaged and encourage new customers to join in. You can use an image moderation API, such as WebPurify, to help you weed out irrelevant, inappropriate, and redundant content.
6. Engage Your Audience with Personalization
Another important feature of UGC is that it can be highly personalized. Per Michael Brenner of the Marketing Insider Group, your target audience will only engage with content that resonates with them on a personal level. Up to 71% of customers polled say they prefer personalized ads.
Find out what encourages your users to make content and share it with your company. Use that knowledge as you to launch your next marketing campaign. Catering to your audience’s needs will help you strengthen your ties to your online audience, building a bond between brand and consumer.
If used appropriately, UGC encourages customer engagement that will help your audience grow. This cost-effective marketing strategy will help you boost lead generation and improve your SEO ranking.