Both original content and curated content from a variety of sources are important to running a robust content marketing campaign. One particularly powerful form of curated content is that produced by a satisfied user. User-generated content is awesome for businesses because consumers are more likely to trust a fellow purchaser than a company committed to promoting its own products or services.
In many ways, user-generated content is the holy grail of content marketing and companies should constantly seek out new sources of fan-made content to supplement their regular marketing efforts. If you’re not quite sure how to encourage consumers to create new content for your brand, here’s a quick list of methods to help leverage the marketing power of your audience and inspire user-generated content.
1. Prompt Fans for Feedback
This might seem so simple that it shouldn’t count as a specific attempt to encourage user-generated content — after all, companies of all types should seek customer feedback regardless of whether they value a social media presence or have a content marketing plan in place. However, asking for fan feedback via Facebook or Twitter is an easy way to stir up social media activity related to your brand, thereby increasing online visibility. Additionally, fan feedback can provide a plethora of data and information that can inspire new content marketing initiatives.
2. Reformat Questions as Blog Posts
Oftentimes, consumer feedback is presented in the form of questions that can incite further user-motivated content. For instance, if a particular question is asked rather frequently, there’s a good chance that the answer could be valuable to your larger audience. Take inspiration from customer comments and questions, whether they are submitted via social media, email, or even by phone. You can turn a basic question and answer into an informative and helpful blog post for your website, thereby offering valuable content that is relevant and pertinent to your customer-base.
3. Ask Fans to Submit Photos
If your company has a presence on a visually-inclined social medium like Instagram, or even Facebook and Twitter, encourage fans to post photos of your product or service in use. This provides you with a selection of multimedia user-generated content to pick and choose from whenever you decide to feature or promote content delivered by your audience. You should also ask fans to tag their images with a specific hashtag so you can easily discover and promote the best ones.
4. Hold a Social Media Contest
One of the best ways to leverage social media for your brand is to hold an online contest for your fans. There are a number of approaches you can take, but the key elements are a relevant theme, some type of prize, and an active social media following. An easy way to get started is offering a reward to the fan who posts the funniest or most helpful 6-second Vine clip featuring your product. If Vine isn’t really your scene, choose whichever social medium is more relevant to your brand and offer an incentive for consumers to interact with or promote your brand online in a fun way.
5. Compile Tips from Your Fans
You can also use social media to flat-out ask consumers about the best ways they’ve made use of your products or tips they have about your industry in general. By eliciting responses on a public platform, you’re increasing your brand’s visibility while also engaging consumers in a discussion that may interest the majority of your audience. You can also compile these tips into a helpful blog post once you have chosen your favorites.
6. Keep an Eye Out for Mentions
Another simple method to leverage consumer-generated content is to closely monitor social media for positive stories about your brand. A happy consumer might not always tweet directly at you when sharing a positive brand experience, but they are likely to mention your product or company name. Actively seeking out this type of content gives you a wider pool of user-generated content to promote on social media. The more you engage with fans on social media, the more frequently your organization will appear as the subject of online discussion.
7. Create a Hashtag Campaign
Designating a standard branded hashtag provides fans a clear avenue for interacting with your company on social media. Whether the majority of your online audience is active on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, hashtags can be used as part of a cross-platform campaign that makes it easier to search and identify user-generated content. Inventing a catchy hashtag can boost the volume of fan-created content by making your followers more likely to post content relevant to your brand.
8. Encourage Brand Advocates
Vocal and passionate consumers, often known as brand advocates when they take an active initiative to spread positive information about your product or service, are a potentially plentiful source of content for your brand and can be perceived as more credible than paid advertising. The number one way to encourage brand advocates is to provide a customer experience worth bragging about. Situate your company as a positive and memorable player in the consumer experience and you could see a boost in praise via social media, which is the ultimate form of user-generated content.
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About the Author
Emily is a freelance writer based in Toronto, Ontario who covers a range of topics from technology to travel. She holds a Bachelor in English Literature and Business from the University of Waterloo. No matter how many projects she is working on, Emily always finds time for baking, reading, and yoga.Follow on Twitter More Content by Emily Bauer