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Integrating User-Generated Content into Your Strategy

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The plain and simple truth about marketing to consumers is this – consumers trust each other more than they trust brands. To say this truth is a huge challenge for marketers is an understatement. What tactics do marketers turn to when faced with statistics from Forrester that show 70% of U.S. online adults trust brand recommendations from family and friends while only 10% trust ads on websites and 9% trust branded text messages? Enter user-generated content – content created by your users/advocates to help you gain more traffic, leads, and sales.

User-generated content comes in the form of testimonials, reviews, comments, social posts, and more. Generated by real users (the ones other potential users trust more than you), this content is seen as unbiased and more trustworthy. It is a kind of proof of the level of your customers’ satisfaction. Forrester notes that 30% of online shoppers research Amazon reviews prior to buying, and that is drawing away market share from search engines such as Google.

Ways to Incorporate User-Generated Content

Because user-generated content has been proven to be more authentic – and therefore more engaging – it behooves us to power up our content marketing strategies with content from customers and fans. Here are some ideas to help you integrate user-generated content into your marketing tactics:

    • Run a hashtag campaign to get customers to show off how they use your product
    • Integrate testimonials into your print collateral
    • Instagram is now allowing you to add stories that mention your brand to your own Instagram story
    • Add “Tag us @…” to your email signature, website, and e-newsletters
    • Allows users to interact with your brand

Benefits of User-Generated Content

  • Builds stronger customer/brand relationships
  • Helps you better understand your customers and how they use your products or services
  • Gives your brand credibility
  • Improves brand SEO

If you’re thinking about how much more complex it can be to get your message in front of customers, you’re not alone. It’s not only more complex, it’s also more costly and competitive. And, many marketers don’t have sufficient human resources to keep producing high-quality content on a regular basis. So it not only makes sense from a content marketing perspective to integrate user-generated content, but from a project management aspect as well.

Where to Begin

To successfully excite an audience about creating content for any brand, you first have to know who your audience is so you can create opportunities that will spark their interest. Then you can develop themes and topics that focus on their desires. You are basically forming an online community that needs feeding, monitoring, and nurturing.

Successful User-Generated Content Examples

The days of one-way communication between brands and consumers are fading fast. Consumers are connected and empowered. The sense of belonging to a community is powerful, and consumer online conversations are helping brands stand out though the creation of memorable campaigns that resonate with new audiences.

Apple, when it launched its iPhone 6, asked customers to capture photos of everyday life and post them using the hashtag #ShotoniPhone6. The best submissions were then showcased on billboards and print ads internationally.

Starbucks’ well-known campaign – the white cup contest – generated almost 4,000 submissions within three weeks. They asked customers to draw on their plain white cups; the winning submission was developed into a limited edition tumbler.

You don’t have to be a large brand like Apple or Starbucks to gain success with user-generated content. Your customers are already sharing photos and videos and talking about products. Give them the opportunity to talk about yours.