We’ve all seen the blind taste tests of consumers amazed they’re drinking X instead of Y. It’s a familiar marketing ploy. Today, though, we can also watch the silly ditties about a favorite drink that a teen posts on YouTube. User-created content is changing the game. Here is why user-generated content is important.
What is user-generated content (UGC)? As the name suggests, UGC is content that your customers, consumers, visitors, or clients share about your business or brand, product, or service. They might post a video on YouTube or Instagram, offer a product review on Yelp, rave or complain on Facebook or Twitter, or pin your latest offering to a Pinterest board. The options are seemingly endless in our digital age. Any of them can be useful to your small business or startup.
As CrowdRiff describes it, “You’re not marketing at your audience anymore, you’re marketing with them.” Look at how The Empire State Building uses Instagram user-generated content for marketing its iconic structure.
There are many reasons why user-generated content is important. This article will cover five main ones:
- You need content—a lot of it
- It’s honest
- UGC is cost-effective
- The content helps your SEO
- You can expand your reach
Why User-Generated Content Is Important
Let’s consider Sydney’s 1888 Hotel. The boutique hotel in Australia was renovated and relaunched as “the world’s first Instagram hotel.” Why? Because it appealed to customers and came with a built-in marketing campaign. All those guests were creating user-generated content. Here are five reasons that matter.
You Need Content—a Lot of It
Marketers have been saying for over a decade now that “content is king.” In this digital marketing age, you need to consistently update your business website, blog, and social channels with fresh content. That can be a lot of work, especially for a small business or startup.
Rather than starting from scratch and having to come up with all sorts of creative ideas, user-generated content can help you brainstorm. Food 52, for example, noticed that its community was loving the heirloom tomato. So, it pulled together an Instagram gallery #f52tomato featuring user posts of the sumptuous fruit.
Instead of having a marketing team of one, you gain access to a community of people engaged with your business and its brand.
Customers, inundated with messaging, are skeptical. A business adds to its authenticity with user-generated content. The content created directly by users is organic, which helps you establish credibility and build trust.
At the same time, you are meeting the users’ desire to be seen and heard. When you interact and integrate UGC, you’re demonstrating that your business cares about the user’s point of view. This brings your user into the conversation and makes them feel important. That, in turn, can inspire greater brand loyalty.
UGC Is Cost-Effective
UGC helps you expand your marketing reach with less budget spend. After all, making a marketing video or paying for a product shoot can be very costly. On the other hand, reposting a customer’s video doesn’t cost you anything. This is visual marketing content with little effort or cost involved on your end.
User-generated content is also unique and memorable. A professional copywriter or web designer can come up with a creative ad campaign. But they aren’t going to have the same one-of-a-kind insight of a real user.
Getting to know your customers via user-generated content is also an inexpensive way to conduct market research. You can better understand who you should be targeting and what audience is part of your community.
You do have to be cautious when implementing user-generated content in your marketing. Here are 6 Rules You Need To Know.
The Content Helps Your SEO
User-generated content includes reviews and testimonials, discussion forums, input into Q&A sections, images, comments, posts, and videos. All of these can help provide more context for the search crawlers. Users are likely to use a wide range of terms to discuss your business and its services or products. This provides you with more keywords (especially long-term ones) that appeal to the search algorithms.
As “a replenishing source of fresh content,” UGC helps improve your search visibility, too, according to Search Engine Land.
Still, you must moderate the user content to reap the SEO rewards fully. Just as in other areas of search engine optimization, the algorithms reward quality over quantity. Duplicate content can actually get you penalized. So, while keeping an eye on UGC relevance, look for ways to consolidate the content to make sure it isn’t posted several times.
You Can Expand Reach
When you share a social post or write a blog, you hope that your followers and brand loyalists will engage with that content. With user-generated content, you expand your reach to the users’ audience too. Especially when you are able to partner with a powerful influencer, you could be seen by a more diverse, inclusive audience than you might have otherwise.
Think of it like the multiplying heads in The Brady Bunch intro. You and the user share the content. Then their followers do so. And their followers … and the snowball effect multiplies the number of views for your post or content.
Want to know more about how to develop user-generated content? Check out our discussion of the many ways you can make your business website a community.