User-generated content (UGC) refers to any content that is produced by consumers or users. It can take the form of social media updates, reviews, blog posts, Q&A forums, photos or videos. Many businesses use different kinds of UGC as part of their overall marketing strategy and the benefits getting involved with UGC provides are nearly endless for your business.
- Enriched user experience – UGC allows your customers and prospects to interact with like-minded people and share their opinions – this could be through posting comments on a blog, on discussion forums or status updates.
- Enhanced understanding of your audience – User-generated content offers you an excellent opportunity to listen to your customers and be able to better understand their needs.
- Established trust – Consumers usually base their buying decisions on what other people are saying. Having positive reviews on your site enhances the chances of prospects using your service or buying your product.
- Search engine optimization – Search engines like Google rank sites based on how unique and relevant their content is. Having user-generated content on your site can play a major role in improving your search engine rankings and even make your site more visible.
- Cost effectiveness – Hiring designers and writers to create content for your business site can be very expensive, but if you work with an in-house team instead, it’ll help you save on money and time.
If you feel like your small business is ready to begin using user generated content, follow these guidelines below to get started:
1. Establish your objectives
Before getting started with user-generated content, you should first decide what you want to accomplish. Do you want to drive traffic to your site or is your aim to create increased brand awareness? Remember to choose your goals with the end user’s needs in mind. Take time to carry out some research on your audience. What are their online habits? What kind of content appeals to them most? Use free online survey tools like SurveyMonkey, KwikSurveys, and SurveyPlanet to help get started.
2. Pick your strategy
Once your goals and the customer’s needs are aligned, you can then choose a strategy. For instance, teenagers love content that is visual and engaging and enjoy using sites that provide that kind of content like Instagram. If you wanted to connect with this audience specifically, the most effective strategy would be to post photo and video content on Instagram and hashtag it accordingly.
3. Encourage interaction
There are different ways of encouraging user interaction on your website. For instance, you could ask an industry expert to share an opinion on your blog, and then invite readers to share comments. Alternatively, offer users incentives like discounts or exclusive memberships as a means of engaging present and potential customers alike.
4. Offer clear instructions
When it comes to bringing on guest writers for your company blog, having clear guidelines in place for user-generated content will play a key role in the effectiveness of your strategy. Let these bloggers know what kinds of topics are acceptable and the minimum word count for posts. When it comes to blog posts, mention how long it will take for posts to get reviewed and published. Don’t forget to include warnings against submitting spam content.
5. Keep track of your success
Webmasters can use tools such as Google Analytics to measure the impact of user-generated content on traffic and conversions on your site. You can also use tools such as Hootsuite, TweetReach, Klout, Social Mention and Twazzup to keep better track of activity on social media.
Charles Mburugu is a web content writer who has a passion for topics such as internet marketing and UGC moderation.