Nothing worth having comes for free, especially in business. Stuff that sounds too good to be true often gets dismissed as just that. If you were told that there was a way to increase your reputation through content marketing that you didn’t have to pay for, you’d be waiting to hear the catch. However, boosting your marketing effectiveness in this way isn’t such a reach in the age of the internet. Enter user generated content.
What is user-generated content?
User-generated content (UGC for short) may sound like it does what it says on the tin. In a lot of ways, it does just that: you are making the most of content that has been generated by your ‘users’, or, more accurately, your customers.
By building UGC into your marketing plan, you’re able to reach more people in a digital manner that most closely replicates word-of-mouth.
Throughout this article, we’ll discuss key areas of UGC that, until now, you may have neglected.
1. Ask for permission
It pays to be polite in the UGC game, so a key principle to stick to when sourcing UGC is asking permission. More often than not, your clients will be more than happy for you to share posts, reviews, feedback or messages that benefit you. As long as it isn’t
, you should be good to go.
As this can’t always be guaranteed, though, the best advice is always to ask first. If they say, ‘yes’ – get sharing! If they say, ‘no’ – that’s all the more reason why you should’ve asked in the first place.
2. Social Media
A lot of the most effective UGC practices involve social media. It’s where conversations between clients are happening more regularly, so taking advantage of that can be a real winner.
If you’re in communications and someone is looking for a
, be proactive. If someone has sent a general query out about facilities management and that’s your game, get replying.
Developing a hashtag, running contests or talking to your audience online are other great ways that businesses can harness UGC for their ends.
3. Encourage feedback
Whilst it may be the case that some content you can use for marketing is generated organically, we can’t rely on this alone. Engagement is seen by marketing professionals as the top priority of their purpose. Encouraging feedback in any way automatically builds engagement.
By being proactive and giving incentives for customers to leave comments or fill out a short questionnaire, you’re building a resource of UGC without clients even being aware that you’re doing it.
Other parts of your business actively do this consistently. Customer service agents, even when they’re using
cloud based call centers
, are gathering data on user experience as part of their KPIs. You should too.
4. Include reviews on your site
As we’ve covered above, a lot of UGC is sourced from and used on social media. And that is great. But what do you do if your audience isn’t being driven to you by social media? How do you then go about reaping those same rewards of greater exposure and a stronger sense of reliability and authenticity?
If you have a website, then including reviews or testimonials on there is a great idea. By building a one-stop-shop for your clients where they can not only see and buy your products or services but hear from people who have already done so makes for a more rounded digital experience. If you’re aiming at building an
increased conversion rate e-commerce model
, testimonials like this will help greatly.
5. ‘My business’ on Google
This method is a little more niche, but part of harnessing a concept like UGC is about the little details as much as it is the bigger, more established elements.
Everything we’ve mentioned so far has been about building authenticity into your online presence. A great way of extending this further is to establish a ‘my business’ presence on Google.
Here, you can provide up-to-date information as well as allow clients to post any reviews or testimonials they have for anyone on Google to see.
6. Actively respond
UGC shouldn’t be viewed as a one-way street where clients are doing all of the heavy lifting.
Online product recommendations and reviews require customer initiative
And whereas UGC shouldn’t be a practice that requires all that much monetary investment, taking the time to respond publicly to feedback is a great idea.
Be sure to maintain a professional tone of voice, and don’t only respond to the good reviews. Embracing more negative comments exudes maturity and the air of a company focused on getting it right. This can be invaluable in today’s digital marketplace.
7. Case studies
Where the narrative and the production of case studies normally exist in-house, they still count as UGC. Case studies track the client journey from start to finish and show prospective clients how your offering works in reality.
For example, if you’re a telecoms business and have a prospective client looking to get
virtual phone number or voicemail services
, then a case study demonstrating how that entire process works with you instills confidence in them that you’ve done this before, and done it well.
The in-house element of them allows you to be a little more selective and promote your biggest successes, but that’s no bad thing.
In this blog, we’ve discussed what UGC is, why you should be using it, and how you can utilise it to boost marketing effectiveness. It may be something you’re already doing but could improve on. Or, you could be starting from scratch.
Either way, sticking to the advice in this guide will stand you in good stead when it comes to your UGC plan. It could also be the thing to take your company’s performance to the next level.
Why not check out Propolis, our exclusive community for B2B marketers to share insights, learn from industry leading marketers, and access our best content. Propolis includes a Hive (group) specially dedicated to brand and content strategy.