The relentless need to continuously create new content pains marketers across all verticals. In fact, 20 percent of B2B companies cited “producing enough content” as their greatest marketing challenge. Fortunately, marketing teams can offset content creation demands through user-generated content.
There are many ways to collect content for your website from your fans, followers, clients, etc. Consider these options for user-generated content for marketing:
Contests are a great way to acquire content from your followers and fans. Some industries are better fits for contests than others, but most businesses can hold some kind of contest. Contests seeking user-generated content can take on many forms. For example:
- Ask your fans to create a video and upload it to YouTube, tagging it a certain way
- Ask followers to tweet a photo and use a specific hashtag
- Create an app for your Facebook page to incorporate video, photos or written word content contests
- Ask your audience to write a poem and submit it on your website or via email
- Ask your audience to create a caption for a photo or to name a video
All of the above contest examples involve users providing content you can then use to promote your business. Once you have content from your audience, you can feature submissions in a blog post and across your social networks. Depending on how large your company is or how big your contest gets, you may end up with content for a few weeks or months.
There are many ways to get your audience excited about a contest, and excitement = entries. For example, last year, the American Red Cross launched a contest that combined a few popular themes with their own mission and ended up with some great content because of it.
They launched a website, SavingZombies.com, for their contest that tied into the zombie phenomenon and the Mayan apocalypse (that was supposed to happen last December). The American Red Cross asked users to create videos explaining what they would include in their “go bags” — a survival kit that includes three days worth of supplies — in case of the zombie apocalypse.
The contest was successful because not only did it tie back to their original message of being prepared for a disaster; it sparked the interest of many due to the zombie and Mayan calendar hype.
Whether you ask or not, customers usually have something to say about your product or service. Perhaps your audience has ideas on business enhancements or would like to connect with other customers? One way to combine both ideas is by creating an online community.
Creating a community for your audience not only connects people with similar interests, but it can be a content creation goldmine. Have users create and submit content through your community.
For example, Starbucks created a website, My Starbucks Idea, for customers to submit ideas that could potentially come to fruition. Once one posts an idea, others are allowed to comment and vote on the idea. On the Ideas in Action section of the website, Starbucks employees announce ideas that are being brought to life. Currently, there are more than 143, 000 ideas posted on the site.
Starbucks was able to harness the passion that customers share for its products and turn it into something useful for both customers and the business, while promoting user-generated content creation.
Another example of an online community that uses fans to generate content is Breast Cancer Answers, a frequently asked questions video library where leading experts answer questions on video for breast cancer patients. In the Breast Cancer Survivor Tips section of the website, there are videos of breast cancer survivors sharing their wisdom and providing support for those still in treatment. Many of these women have large personal followings and promote the videos directly to their audiences, which is highly-targeted free marketing.
Breast Cancer Answers simply converted the passion and camaraderie that is characteristic of breast cancer survivors into powerful content that contributes to the community while simultaneously advancing search and exposure for Breast Cancer Answers.
Something as simple as a review of your product or service can go a long way when it comes to content marketing. Encourage your customers to leave reviews and allow them to leave those reviews in a number of ways.
For e-commerce sites, asking for a review on the product page is a great tactic, but consider going a step further by sending a follow-up email requesting a review after an order has been received. Additionally, through social media listening and monitoring, you can ask online users discussing your product or service for a review.
For other types of businesses, try to solicit reviews in a way that is specific to your business and industry. You can ask for reviews through email marketing campaigns, on social sites, through a form on your website or in person through review forms.
Partner With Your Customers
Depending on your business, you may know some of your customers really well – especially long-time and repeat customers. If this is the case, contemplate partnering with these customers in a way that will benefit both of you.
You can do this in a number of ways. For example, case studies are a great way to highlight customers while simultaneously highlighting your own success. If someone has had tremendous experiences, made notable strides or achieved something new as a result of your product or service, a case study is a way to showcase their achievements while promoting your product or service. Many times customers will agree to be featured in a case study because it isn’t self-serving to your company – it provides them exposure as well.
In some cases you may be able to partner with a customer for cross-promotion marketing. It’s simple: you can promote their business/blog/art/etc., and they will promote you as a vendor. These types of partnerships can be very beneficial, as your business will be introduced to a new audience.
Another positive attribute of user-generated content is on the promotion side. When users are involved in content pieces, they will want to promote their content, too. As a result, not only will you be promoting the content, but the user will as well.
For example, when a user enters a video contest, they will most likely share it with their network — family, friends, Facebook, Twitter, etc., especially when voting comes into play. Because of this, their network will share the content, too, promoting their loved one or friend. A ripple effect of promotion is created, which can benefit your business greatly.
Overall, there are many ways to work user-generated content into your content marketing plan. Whether it is through a contest, community, review or partnership, user-generated content marketing is some of the most influential marketing a business can participate in. Harness the power of your fans, followers, customers and audience through user-generated content marketing plans.
What tips do you have for user-generated content marketing? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.