User-generated content is the holy grail of content marketing – the perpetual motion machine that keeps on giving once you’ve mastered the fine art of driving it in the first place. This elusive content is hard to come by and requires an audience of users so engaged that they’re happy to do the heavy-lifting for you – and at Six Circles, this kind of community building is our bread and butter.
Needless to say, user-generated content is coveted by business owners and digital marketers across the globe – but before you set out on your mission to create the prime conditions, let’s take you through a handful of popular user-generated content examples to help you better understand what user-generated content is and why it’s well worth the chase.
Social media shares
Social media shares do exactly what they say on the tin – your content is shared by users across social platforms, expanding your reach to their audience of friends, followers and connections. Of course, the advantages here really speak for themselves – your content could be seen by thousands rather than being self-contained on your blog or site, with even a modest click-through rate generating a greater volume of qualified traffic than you would otherwise have seen.
In many senses, social media shares are the modern day equivalent of word-of-mouth advertising, with the sharer both acting as a brand representative and promoting your content for free. Better yet, by building this kind of brand-customer relationship where users actively advocate and promote the content you create among like-minded friends and followers, the natural referrals they generate are more likely to lead to engaged, converting and returning customers as a result.
If your blog content is engaging, the likelihood is that your readership will want to, well, engage. Luckily, blog comments from readers provide a unique opportunity that can be nurtured to reflect positively on your brand.
Look to actively encourage a conversation between your readers in the comments section – whether they’re sharing their opinions on your take on current affairs, an update on how they fared having put your tips into action, or anything else relating to the content you’ve produced. Seek to participate in these conversations by replying to comments and starting new discussion threads – responding to any queries, challenges or concerns.
The advantage of doing this is two-fold. First, it’ll establish your brand as an authoritative voice within your field by demonstrating that you both actively participate in industry discussions and have authentic knowledge on matters affecting your sector. Secondly, it will build a stronger relationship between audience and brand by presenting your brand as one that acknowledges and appreciates its readership – a real win-win.
In the age of social media domination, photographic content is all the rage. Whether it’s Instagram stories, Facebook posts or any and everything in between, social media users just love to share selfies and snaps. And with just about everyone now having access to a smartphone, photographic content isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
So, how can your brand capitalise on this? One of the biggest benefits of photographic content is that your audience is doing all the work for you, meaning your role is simple – repost. Whether it’s a snap of someone styling your latest clothing products or a picture of a cool new display in one of your brick-and-mortar stores, repost audience images that relate to your brand as a means of strengthening your brand-audience relationship.
This will demonstrate that you acknowledge and appreciate your customers, while also encouraging more of your audience to get involved – creating a greater sense of community surrounding your brand as a result.
Of course, there’s also the advantage of increased brand exposure. In much the same way that your content can benefit from social shares, encouraging users to share photos relating to your brand or product on their social channels will serve as a free advertisement that organically reaches a huge audience of all of their friends and followers.
With social feeds now filled with less-than-authentic ads and other content from social influencers and celebrities, reposting genuine photos from genuine customers is sure to resonate with users as a breath of fresh air – reinforcing the authenticity and integrity of your brand to the benefit of your brand image.
With a mammoth 500 hours of video content being uploaded to YouTube every minute, it’s clear that the potential of video content shouldn’t be ignored.
To capitalise on this popular form of content consumption, once again, turn your attention to your audience and encourage them to participate. This one may take a little extra incentive, as creating video content often requires more substance than that required to take a quick snapshot for Instagram.
With this in mind, look to offer product testers and freebies to relevant and prolific video content creators as a means of increasing your brand’s exposure. Whether it’s sending makeup products to the owner of a makeup tutorial channel or a gadget for an electronics channel to unbox, research who and what is popular surrounding your sector within the video content community and react accordingly.
By letting your product or service do the talking, your brand’s authenticity will once more be highlighted and championed by your audience.
Reviews and testimonials
Once more on the topic of authenticity, review and testimonials are one of the best forms of advertisements your brand can receive – providing they’re positive, of course.
User-generated content works because, in a world saturated with brands claiming to be ‘the best’, the ‘leading’ or much the same, users turn to fellow users as a means of reliability. With this in mind, look to circulate positive reviews and show them off to your audience to establish your credibility among your users.
Of course, your reviews may not always be positive – but rather than simply ignoring these less glowing reviews, you should always look to reply. Apologise for the user’s bad experience and seek feedback on how you can look to improve. By doing this, you’re reinforcing that you actively listen to your audience and their feedback, strengthening the sense of community around your brand and turning a negative into a positive as a result.
By establishing your own company forum where users can participate in discussions day-to-day, you’re positioning your brand at the forefront of a user community – and the benefits in terms of brand-customer relations really speak for themselves.
As well as helping you to portray your brand as an active industry participant and authoritative voice, encouraging your customers to participate in forums boasts other advantages, too. By leading discussions surrounding your sector, you can better gauge the types of topics your audience want to be discussed.
You can use this knowledge to inspire new blog content ideas – ensuring you continue to feed the appetites of your audience. On top of keeping your audience happy, this also proves you have one ear to the ground at all times – once more reinforcing your brand’s role as a leading participant in your industry’s wider community.
It’s clear why user-generated content is becoming ever more important with so many perks for brands to enjoy.
Learn more about how Six Circles can help you take your brand’s community to the next level by getting in touch with our team today to request a demo of our state-of-the-art community engagement platform.