User generated content (UGC) refers to any content created by Internet users that links to your brand. This can be an entire blog post, podcast, or piece of fan art or something smaller, such as a comment on your social media page or a forum, a review, or a video. By combining UGC with your current marketing strategies, you can strengthen your relationship with customers and improve the likelihood that prospects will convert.
Who Can Benefit from User Generated Content?
UGC has a higher success rate in certain types of companies than others, particularly those who have a large customer base of Millennials. With Millennials, UGC is 20 percent more influential on purchasing decisions than other types of media and 35 percent more memorable than branded messages, found Crowdtap. In addition, Huffington Post reports that Millennials spend 30 percent of their media time consuming content created by their peers. With UGC, you can tap into some of that time.
How to Gain User Generated Content
In many cases, UGC for your brand already exists — you just need to find it and receive permission to use it. Here are some examples:
- Reviews. One of the most effective types of UGC is the review. A Forrester Research study found that 70 percent of consumers use reviews and ratings to choose a product or service and 76 percent are more likely to make a purchase if they see at least 10 positive reviews or ratings. An added bonus is that reviews tend to rank highly in Google search results.
- Images. Photos of consumers using your products demonstrate your brand’s popularity and show how products will look and work in action. If you find such a picture on a social media site, leave a comment complimenting the user and asking if you can reuse the photo. If you are lucky enough to find something on Twitter, all you need to do is retweet.
- Emails and comments. Occasionally, you may receive emails thanking you for your service from satisfied customers. This no longer needs to be just an ego boost for your company; you can also share the content (once again, with permission) as a blog post. This can also work for short comments and private messages you receive on your social media pages. Post comments as a list of testimonials on your website and share new ones on social media. These two techniques even B2B companies can use to benefit from UGC.
If you lack readymade content, you can always ask users to create something for you through a competition or just as an opportunity for them to receive visibility. For instance, you could ask customers to share their experience with your brand and feature the best submissions on your website or blog.
Pitfalls of User Generated Content
Of course, UGC is not without its share of disadvantages. Here are a few to consider before deciding to incorporate UGC into your content strategy:
- No SEO. As users rarely have any knowledge of SEO, content will not be optimized for high rankings in search results (with the notable exception of reviews).
- Low credibility. Unlike the team who usually creates your content, users of your products and services are not experts and may even distribute inaccurate information or advice. It is important to think about what type of content users are qualified to create for your brand.
- Low quality. You may struggle to find usable content, as users may lack the skills to write, photograph, or shoot videos that meet your normal quality standards. Editing, if at all possible, can be very time consuming.
User generated content can be a great tool to influence your audience and enable you to gain the trust of new leads. However, adding UGC to your content strategy is more appropriate for some companies than others. Carefully consider if UGC would be a help or hindrance and, furthermore, decide what type of content would be suitable for your brand before getting started.