How to Incorporate User Generated Content Into Your Content Marketing Strategy

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One of the best ways to make your marketing campaign pop is to include content created by customers, whether it’s a tweet praising your company, an attractive Instagram photo featuring your product, or a positive review on someone’s personal blog.

Not only does user-generated content (UGC) save money that you would have otherwise spent to create your own assets, but it also lends your brand the authenticity that comes with an outside perspective. In fact, according to research from Crowdtap, Millennials find user-generated content to be 50% more trustworthy than other forms of media.

However, those planning to integrate UGC into their content strategies need to know how to find the right content, as well as how to use it to build relationships with customers. Here are some tips for doing just that.

Find relevant content by searching popular hashtags and inviting people to engage with you.

No matter what industry you’re in, people are probably already talking about topics relevant to your business somewhere on the internet. This gives you the opportunity to see what people are saying about your brand or market, and engage with folks whose interests indicate they might post about you in the future.

Indeed, since UGC is part of an ongoing dialogue between a brand and its customers, there is great value in reaching out to someone speaking generally about your industry. A positive interaction might encourage them to follow you on social media, making it more likely that they will post about your company in the future.

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For instance, an automobile manufacturer could search Twitter for what people had to say about the recently completed #ChicagoAutoShow. The company could see if there were any photos of its forthcoming cars or positive comments about its brand that could be used to craft a new piece of content. It might also have a chance to open new dialogues with car enthusiasts that were previously unaware of the brand.

Promising to amplify user content on social media can also inspire people to create more for your brand. For example, Starbucks encouraged people to post photos of the drawings they had made on its holiday-themed red coffee cups, and used those images to create its own photo blog featuring the best designs.

Make sure you get people’s permission to use their content.

Most people will be happy to share their content with you, but to be safe, it’s best to ask them for permission and to show them your terms of service as well so they know exactly how you might use their work. It’s also important to make sure you’re activating UCG in compliance with the terms of service of the website or social network on which you found it.

Create a platform for customers to share their content.

Now that you’ve found relevant UGC that’s available to you, it’s time to think about how you’re going to use it.

One smart implementation is to create a destination where customers can submit their content and browse media created by others. Burberry’s Art of the Trench microsite operates as both a photo gallery of happy customers and a place where people can upload images of themselves wearing the company’s trench coats. Expedia’s Viewfinder blog is another example that collects travel stories from people who used the site to visit locales around the world.

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Online destinations like these also give users who arrive at a content page via an off-site channel additional things to look at, after they’re finished consuming what they initially clicked on.

Integrate reviews into your product pages and let your customers sing your praises.

Nothing resonates with people quite like a thumbs up from a fellow consumer. Integrating customer reviews into your product pages or creating testimonials let prospective buyers know that what you’re selling is just as good as you say it is.

Kind words can be found on Yelp, personal blogs and even in the emails you receive from satisfied customers. By being proactive about soliciting feedback, you can create a steady stream of positive reviews that can be used to bolster the trustworthiness of your content.

Hopefully, this guidance has helped you get a better grasp of how UGC can fit into your broader content marketing strategy. Remember, it’s important to think of UGC as a valuable tool in your kit rather than as an end-all, be-all solution to your marketing problems. An ideal marketing strategy has a mix of UGC and in-house creative that works together to engage consumers and influence purchase decisions.