According to studies, just 40% of UK marketers have a documented content marketing strategy.
That leaves a pretty big portion of UK businesses that clearly don’t have much of a plan when it comes to marketing their business with great content.
This is a shame, because there are so many forms of content businesses can call upon in the digital marketplace to further their brand and build an online presence that will be the envy of the competition.
Today, I’d like to focus on user-generated content, because I firmly believe it is one of the most under-utilised forms of marketing in the modern age.
What is user-generated content?
User-generated content (UGC) dominates the web. It consists of reviews, photos, videos and blog posts that have been produced by customers and fans of brands.
Take one look at Instagram, and you’ll see what could easily be mistaken for product placements everywhere.
It makes sense for brands to encourage this. Gap, for example, has implemented a brilliant user-generated Pinterest strategy that has resulted in a loyal following of over 130,000 users for their ecommerce business.
There are three reasons UGC is important:
It inspires trust.
It’s more cost-effective.
It helps build a strong community around the brand.
If I’ve successfully grabbed your attention, here’s five ways you can encourage user-generated content to arrive effortlessly for your business:
1. Give them something to shout about
The content you produce yourself should inspire UGC from visitors to your website. This example of a deforestation infographic demonstrates how a powerful piece of brand content might just inspire others to create their own.
Start a chain reaction by creating something you know will touch a nerve with your audience. The domino effect of great base content is something to behold.
2. Hunt down your customers
Where do your customers (both existing and potential) reside online? Can they be found mostly on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram?
Once you know the social media platforms they frequent, you know where to target your UGC effort.
3. Create incentives for UGC
Sometimes, the oldest tactics are the most effective.
If you want to gather as much user-generated content for marketing purposes as possible, you need to give people a reason to share it with you. The trick lies in finding an incentive that is of high value to the user but of low cost to the business.
A small prize or promise to use their imagery (if that’s the kind of UGC you’re after) in your wider marketing output will probably do the trick.
4. Use the magnetic force of hashtags
Hashtags remain a brilliant way to put your brand in the midst of discussions that can have a tangible impact on its marketing effort.
Make it easy for users to share content with you by latching onto the most appropriate hashtags for your products, industry and individual marketing campaigns.
5. Include a ‘write for us’ section on your website
There are a huge number of guest bloggers looking for platforms on which to express themselves. Your website could be the outlet they need, but you need to make it obvious that you accept guest posts.
By adding a ‘write for us’ section on your website with a clear link to it on the main site navigation, you should find that guest bloggers start to get in touch, eager to share with you their own content.
The great thing about modern marketing is that it’s a truly collaborative effort that extends far beyond the four walls of your business. Use my tips above, and you’ll soon discover the power of UGC.
Written by Mark Ellis
Mark Ellis is a freelance writer who specialises in copywriting, blogging and content marketing for businesses of all sizes. Mark’s considerable experience at director level and deep interest in personal and business success means he’s ready to comment on anything from freelance writing to workplace dynamics, technology and personal improvement.