Content marketing is the hot topic that everyone is talking about right now. With the rise of social media and the importance of social SEO, content becomes the new currency of the digital world. Content is gold. However, creating content is time-consuming and often very expensive. User generated content (UGC) is a more affordable and engaging way for businesses to produce content without breaking the bank.
According to a recent survey,over half (51%) of Americans trust user-generated content more than other information on a company website (16%) or news articles about the company (14%) when looking for information about a brand, product, or service (click to tweet). User-generated content marketing is becoming more and more important everyday. It is no longer just for small businesses with tight budgets. Putting consumers in the content driver’s seat allows businesses to gather content, grow their audience, increase their reach and strengthen consumer relationships.
An UGC contest example – SkiBum Scholarship Video Competition
What is user-generated content
User-generated content (UGC) refers to earned media that is produced by the consumers as opposed to owned media, the content made by the brand or paid media. UGC comes in many shapes and forms as product reviews, guest posts, social media posts, photos, videos or question-and-answer forums.
The Instagram photo of your Starbucks coffee this morning is UGC. Your review of “Orange is the new Black” on Amazon is another example of UGC. Your lovely tweet about how much you love Oreo cookies is also an example of UGC.
Why Brands Should Leverage User-Generated Content?
1. People love user-generated content
Internet users love user-generated content. UGC allows online users like us to speak up, share their personal values and opinion and connect with like-minded people and the brand. If we didn’t like UGC, Facebook would have a hard time getting to 1.19 billion monthly active user. It is free, convenience and fun. Everyone can find something that is interesting to them. Almost everything we see on social media is UGC. American’s spend an average of 16 minutes out of every hour on social networks (click to tweet). It is a brilliant move for brands to encourage users to create their own content that is tailored to their taste. Consumers are already doing it and they enjoy it.
2. User-generated content helps you understand your target audiences
Listening to your customers can help you understand what service they are looking for or the issues that affect their experience. UGC is an effortless way for you to listen to your customer. UGC allows businesses to capture a large amount of data from your target audience.
3. User-generated content enriches user experience
UGC allows your customer to voice their opinion on your site and connect with like-minded people. It helps build a strong and engaging community of people who are there to share and support each other. It is more enjoyable to connect with people who have similar taste and opinions. The customer will spend more time on your site which will help increase brand awareness, which means the customer is more likely to use of your service.
UGC is a brilliant way to show your customer that you are listening and care about them. It allows brands to connect with customers on a personal level and recruit brand ambassadors.
4. Consumers trust earned media above all other forms of advertising
92% of consumers say they trust earned media more than any other form of advertising.(click to tweet) 84% of millennial’s report that UGC on company websites has at least some influence on what they buy (click to tweet). Many people wouldn’t make purchasing decisions without first consulting other peoples opinions.
If you encourage UGC, consumers will be more likely to find your brand when they are searching. The more positive UGC your brand has, the more likely someone will purchase your product or use your service.
5. If you don’t want to leverage user-generated content, your competitor will
Many brands are leveraging UGC. If you don’t want to listen to what your customers are saying, someone else will. You have a choice. Manage your own community or let someone else take it over, and it could be a competitor!
6. User-generated content helps social SEO
With the recent Google Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird algorithm updates, social SEO becomes more important than ever. UGC helps increase social signal which helps increase search visibility. With the help of your community, you can create a lot of relevant content with very little effort that targets the right keywords
7. User-generated content is affordable
Comparing earned media and paid media, earned media is a lot more affordable.Not every business can afford to have in-house writers and designers to produce content or buy banner ads that are tailored to their community. UGC is an effective alternative for businesses to save time and money.
8. User-generated content is profitable
Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn and Twitter are great examples of user-generated content businesses. In 2012, these 4 social networks made almost 10 billion dollars in revenue. Recently Johnston Press is testing a new model for their small weekly paper where 75% of all content will be user-generated. UGC is a great way to add value to people’s lives and generate extra revenue at the same time.
Integrating user-generated content into your marketing strategy is affordable and easy. You can start by hosting a contest, run a live blog, encourage consumers to submit content or ask provocative questions on social media. Start gathering UGC from your community to enhance your marketing today.
Are you using user-generated content? Please share your experience in the comments below.
Photo credit: Bazaar Voice
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