The Power of User-Generated Content: Leveraging Your Community For Marketing

Content is always going to be an important part of any marketing strategy, but the focus has changed slightly in recent years. No longer is it key to churn out blogs upon blogs, quality is at the core of any content marketing strategy now.

User-Generated Content (UGC) is any type of content created by users or consumers of a product or service, and can be in the form of reviews, photos, videos, blog posts, social media posts and more. The rise in UGC is solely down to the authenticity of the content. A non-biased, genuine insight into a brand’s products or services.

Not only is UGC valuable for consumers, it is powerful for businesses too. By leveraging UGC, brands can increase their engagement, and more importantly, build trust with their target audience. It is also free, so a non-brainer for businesses!

Owned vs Earned Media

When it comes to UGC, there are two main types of media to be aware of:

  • Owned media

Owned media refers to content that your organisation has complete control over, and includes your website, social media pages and blog articles. It can also be in the form of white papers and case studies. The main goal of owned media is to provide value through content marketing, with the hopes of generating leads from it. While having complete control over your content does have its advantages, it is difficult to build trust with your audience using owned media as it is very one-sided.

  • Earned media

Earned media refers to the media exposure earned via word-of-mouth, which can initially stem from high-quality content that you publish which goes viral, a positive customer experience, or even your own SEO efforts. It is worth noting that earned media is exposure your business receives, whether it be good or bad experiences! This is a great way to build trust and brand awareness as it can help build up brand advocates, encouraging others to interact with your products or services.

Benefits of User-Generated Content

Rather than sitting there waiting for people to talk about your products or services, think about how you can create a channel for customers to make themselves heard… the UGC will naturally flow then! Is there a comment function on your website blogs that you could encourage people to leave feedback on? Do you ask your audience questions on social media to help start a conversation?

Users tend to create UGC to receive recognition from businesses, and to make them look good. Some of the advantages for brands having UGC include:

  • It helps brands understand their target audience
  • It improves the average session duration and levels of engagement on your website
  • It increases customer satisfaction in the form of conversions
  • It provides a channel for other users to connect with, building a community
  • It is peer-reviewed, making it more trustworthy

The biggest advantage of UGC is that your competitors can’t copy it! Authentic feedback from your customers simply can’t be replicated.

How To Encourage Customers To Create Value

The first thing to think about with UGC is creating a community that customers will want to be a part of. How can you entice them in, and encourage them to join in conversations with your brand? You also need to think about where your audience are. What channels do they visit regularly? Otherwise you will end up wasting time and money creating content that will not be visible to the right people.

Here are some steps to help you get started with creating an online community:

  1. Think about using incentives to encourage customers to participate
  2. Set a standard for members to follow (like on Facebook pages when you have to accept rules before being accepted, think about how you want your community to be run)
  3. Be honest and transparent with members
  4. Promote your community to similar audiences to help grow it
  5. Consistent posting is key to develop a voice and be considered an industry leader
  6. Give members the freedom to say and do as they please (within the set standards you outline)

Communities can be incredibly powerful for brands. Not only do they offer support and encouragement to the members, but they can help establish your brand as an industry leader, setting you apart from the competition. Who wouldn’t want a free channel for marketing and PR?!

If you would like to know more about how to leverage your community for marketing, why not pick the brains of our expert marketers? Feel free to contact us today for more information.

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