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Is Your Company Taking Advantage of User-Generated Content?

user-generated content

According to Demand Metric, around 90 percent of organizations are now using content marketing to generate traffic, leads and sales. Also, 78 percent of CMOs consider content to be the future of marketing.

However, anybody familiar with content creation knows how time consuming it can be. Especially if you're dealing with image or video content, it takes serious time to create something that surpasses the competition and is good enough to get noticed among the millions of pieces of content published every day. So, why not get your users to do some of the work for you?

What Is User-Generated Content?

User-generated content is a blanket them that generally includes any content created by amateurs. Content generated by expert journalists, video creators, content teams or other professional organizations cannot be considered user-generated content. For example, the majority of video on YouTube is user-generated. While many, many professional organizations use YouTube, most of the videos are created and uploaded by YouTube users themselves. Other types of user-generated content include:

  • Blog comments
  • Reviews and testimonials
  • Forum posts
  • Social media posts
  • Guest blog posts
  • User-submitted videos or photos

Some of these content types can overlap as well. If you get a blog comment from a customer who's very happy with your product or service, you could use that comment to begin creating a testimonials page. Yelp reviews are often accompanied by photos, which you could add to your Facebook page and create a compelling status update with each one. The main point is to take what users are already saying about your brand - wherever they're saying it - and using it elsewhere to bolster your reputation and gain even more attention.

Is It Effective?

Leveraging user-generated content won't just save you time - it's incredibly useful for sales, leads and brand exposure. Some research indicates that millennials consider user-generated content to be 50 percent more trustworthy and 35 percent more memorable than other media types. This makes sense - many people would consider a Yelp review submitted by a user who has nothing invested in a company to be more trustworthy than a company site that's full of hyperbolic sales copy. User-generated content has been so influential on the internet that Time Magazine named "You" the Person of the Year in 2006.

For a concrete example, consider Dr. Martens user-generated content strategy. The famous footwear company launched a social campaign using the hashtag #STANDFORSOMETHING and uploaded a video that celebrated the wearing of their shoes throughout different generations and cultures. They encouraged their audience to upload photos and videos of their own experiences with Dr. Martens footwear using the hashtag. Thousands of people participated and the company used some of the user-generated content to create the commercial below:

There's no doubt that all this engagement led to further exposure and sales for Dr. Martens. Similar strategies have been used by Kia, GoPro, Taco Bell, T-Mobile, Estee Lauder, Warby Parker, Target, Chobani and countless other brands.

User-Generated Content For Small Businesses

Despite all the potential benefits, though, chances are good that you don't have an audience as big as Dr. Martens or Target. However, you can still take advantage of user-generated content if you keep your finger on the pulse of what people are saying in regards to your industry as a whole. For example, you can try using Facebook's Topic Data or Twitter's Public Streams to see if users are publishing reviews, photos or videos relevant to your industry that you could utilize.

Obviously, having a presence on networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest can allow for a wealth of user-generated content or potential content campaign ideas. Perhaps most important of all, however, is Yelp. Yelp, along with similar review sites like Trip Advisor or Google+ Reviews, are great ways for even the smallest businesses to gather user-generated content in the form of reviews.

While you may not be able to launch a huge social campaign like Dr. Martens, you could simply try paying attention to hashtags that already relate to your industry. Another quick way to encourage user-generated content is to hold a competition or giveaway through social media. For example, you could award $1,000 to a customer who uploads the funniest photo with your product in it. Market the giveaway effectively and you'll be sure to get a ton of submissions. Then, leverage those fan photos into further marketing opportunities by posting them on your site and sharing them on other forms of media. Overall, being successful with user-generated content will require staying creative.

T.J. Anderson

Posted on 12th March, 2015 by T.J. Anderson

About T.J. Anderson

T.J. Anderson is a Chicago-based content editor and writer, as well as an SEO and marketing specialist.

View all posts by T.J. Anderson

2 Responses to Is Your Company Taking Advantage of User-Generated Content?

  • cmos Germany

    cmos Germany says:

    March 12, 2015 at 1:53 pm

    i want to read again and again...

  • cmos Germany

    cmos Germany says:

    March 12, 2015 at 1:53 pm

    I read your blog.

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