This post originally appeared on Salesfusion.com
Top five reasons to curate user-generated content and start turning your customers into marketers
As marketers, we all know that there’s nothing better than having a third party promote our brand. Having advocates outside the company is extremely powerful in increasing the reach of our message and our credibility in the market.
We also know that in today’s digital, always-on world, content is king. People now consume more content than ever (and more kinds of content than ever) and are always looking to connect with others or be educated and entertained.
So what happens when these two worlds collide? It creates an unstoppable, marketing superstorm, and that superstorm is known as user-generated content, or UGC.
The Rise of UGC
UGC in marketing has followed a somewhat parallel path to social media, which makes sense, as the majority of today’s UGC campaigns take place on social networks. In general, the ease with which people can communicate and connect with one another on social channels has created the perfect environment for UGC campaigns.
The idea behind these campaigns is to involve users (whether they be customers, leads or anyone else relevant to your business) by putting them front and center. For example, you might run a UGC campaign on Facebook where you ask people to submit photos or one on Twitter where you ask them to tweet using a certain hashtag.
Perhaps one of the most fun examples of UGC we’ve seen recently is Jimmy Fallon’s weekly hashtag game on The Tonight Show. Each week, Fallon picks a new hashtag (e.g. #WorstGiftEver) and asks people to play along with that theme on Twitter. He then picks the best ones and shares them on his show. In this case, not only do people have fun participating on Twitter and reading through submissions, but they’re also incented to watch the show to see which ones make it on the air (especially if they’re hoping to see their own).
Top Reasons to Curate UGC in Your Marketing Efforts
In the case of Jimmy Fallon’s hashtag game, the big payoff for The Tonight Show is incentivizing users to tune in. But what do the benefits look like in a B2B marketing model? They’re certainly plentiful. Here are our top five:
- Increase Trust: We would never expect a brand to say anything less than glowingly positive about itself, and as a result we tend to trust third party reviews more than brand-sponsored information. In fact, Nielsen reports that 92% of consumers trust recommendations from others above all else. UGC can help promote trust in your brand by shining the spotlight on what your customers (or even potential customers) have to say about your business. Even if your UGC campaign doesn’t ask people to submit reviews of your business, the fact that people are participating at all demonstrates that they hold a positive image of your business (after all, would you engage with a business you dislike?).
- Surface Ideas for New Content: Who better to tell you what they’re interested in hearing from you than your target audience themselves? Running a UGC campaign can not only help ensure you deliver content that’s relevant and interesting to your audience, but it can also help you uncover new ideas to pursue in future campaigns. For instance, if you see a common theme pop up across user submissions, that’s likely a topic you’ll want to explore in more detail since it’s clearly top of mind for your audience.
- Scale Your Content Creation Efforts: Content represents a common thread throughout all of our marketing efforts today. Whether it’s publishing a new blog post, sending out a regular newsletter, hosting a webinar or even speaking with attendees at an event, marketers crave new content. But creating enough content to satisfy these needs isn’t always easy, especially for smaller teams. Fortunately, UGC can help scale these efforts by providing you with new sources of content that require less effort to put together than if you’re starting from scratch.
- Extend Your Reach: If you find something that’s interesting to see or fun to participate in, what do you do? Share it with your own network, of course. And that’s even more so the case if something you submitted is featured in that content. Given our tendency to share campaigns that fit this bill, leading a UGC campaign can go a long way toward extending the reach of your message. UGC campaigns can also extend your reach because in most cases, the submissions themselves are public too (as in the case of a Twitter campaign, for example). While this user promotion certainly helps expand the specific campaign, it can also have a long term impact by improving familiarity with your message and your brand.
- Strengthen Your Connection With Contributors: In the digital marketing world, relationships are everything, and UGC campaigns are an excellent way to connect more closely with those who contribute, whether they’re prospects, leads or customers. And this connection is a two-way street. First, contributors get to feel like they are part of your business and contributing to it in a meaningful way, which can increase their feeling of being “valued customers.” Second, you can use their contributions to better understand what’s important to each account, which can then help you provide them with more personalized and relevant outreach going forward.
The power of user generated content is easy to see. In such a fast-paced, constantly changing digital era, brands need to stay in touch with their audience in order to stay at the forefront of their minds.