Customer_helpYour content marketing program can benefit immensely from user generated content (UGC). Content that your users produce can be used to promote your brand and engage users with your content. Below, we’ll explore why and how you can incorporate UGC into your content marketing program.

Why It’s Valuable 

UGC is the ultimate in audience engagement: not only do you have your audience interested enough to read or watch your content, but they’re enthusiastic enough to produce content on their own. This can create a snowball effect, in which many members of your audience become enthusiastic about participating in your UGC campaign.

UGC content is also economical. By encouraging your audience to create user generated content, you’re outsourcing your content to an audience who is willing to create valuable content for free. You’re left with content that speaks directly to your users because it originates from your users.

Consider the Audience

It’s relatively easy for major consumer brands to get users to participate in UGC, because they have a passionate consumer base willing to participate. For example, in 2011 LEGO ran a campaign in which the audience was invited to build LEGO blocks that would be used in a giant R2D2 sculpture. Users passionately participated because LEGO already had a base of enthusiastic, invested fans.

If your customers are not moved to creativity by your product (a pretty rare feat), you’ll need to rely on other methods to encourage them to create UGC. Things to consider include:

  • What you’d like to achieve with your UGC – is your goal to generate leads, improve conversion, or just get some more chatter going on social media?
  • What content you already have on hand to get started, such as photos and videos
  • Common concerns and issues faced by your customers – look for the type of issues that could get them to take action online
  • Other forces that could help you influence your online community to action, such as endorsements from other companies
  • Incentives customers would have to share, and how powerful those incentives would be to the customer

Types of User Generated Content

There are numerous types of UGC. The most obvious types are those in which users are directly encourage to get creative within certain parameters, such as the LEGO campaign mentioned above or Jib Jab’s annual Elf Yourself videos. This is also the type of content that tends to require the most dedicated, enthusiastic userbase and the most sophisticated techniques.

Quieter types of UCG are also available. Any time your customers take the time to comment on an article, review your services, upload a photo of how they used your product, or discuss you on social media – they’re creating UCG.

Capitalizing on UGC

If you have the momentum and resources, you can start a user generated campaign aimed at getting users to create content in response to your campaign. For example, you might encourage users to upload photos of themselves with your latest product. You might also create a template for them to work with, which makes the process easier, more structured, and more like a game for your audience. Offering coupons or special content for participation may help get the campaign going.

To capitalize on content like photos, article comments, reviews, or social media chatter, take a different approach. You can share creative content from followers on social sites like Facebook and Pinterest, as long as you graciously acknowledge the user’s contribution and honor requests to take it down. For other types of content, let it do its magic by simply responding to the review or feedback.

Making the most of user generated content is a bit of an art. More than perhaps any other type of content marketing, starting a UGC campaign requires you to have a rock-solid understanding of your audience and their relationship with you. Finding UGC elsewhere on the Internet requires persistence and a strong eye for what will be appreciated by other users. The results of this diligence – engaging, timely content – are well worthwhile.

Have you used user generated content in your content marketing program? Share in the comments!


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