If you’re a marketer and you’re relying heavily on digital marketing to help you utilize the web as an effective marketing and communications channel for your brand, you definitely need to focus on quality content rather than quantity. In my past articles, I have wholeheartedly advocated the use of quality content that generates interest and engagement with your community to keep conversations between your followers and your brand alive, especially on social media.
What is user generated content, you might ask? Any kind of content that is generated by a user be it a review, a recommendation, a testimonial, participation in any kind of competition etc. can be classified as user generated content. Having users contribute to your content efforts is a great way of accumulating content without spending your time and money on developing content of your own. Additionally, it is also a great way to create consumer advocacy for your brand in the digital realm.
Consumers are more interested in hearing about what their peers have to say about a product or service rather than read, watch or listen to a cleverly written sales pitch. We all know that millennials are extremely opinionated and have no qualms about letting people know about them. Research shows that over 64% of millennials want options to share their opinions about brands, products and services. In short, thanks social media, consumers tend to trust customer reviews more than advertising messages.
Which is why, if you haven’t started to focus on user generated content already, now would be the best time to start utilizing it to generate content and engage your online community to build trust. While getting reviews and testimonials are a great way to start this process, one of the best ways to get the proverbial user generated content ball rolling, is by doing competitions that ask for participation from your community. In many cases the content that they generate, be it by way of participating in a caption contest on Facebook or by submitting photographs on Instagram can serve as fuel for your digital channels.
So what should you do to get your followers and the online community in general to participate in your contests and competitions? For one thing, well-designed contests address the important question of “What is in it for me?” by offering prizes in the form of free merchandise, gift vouchers and even cash, you can motivate people to participate in your contests thereby delivering value to your visitors.
For example, if your contests require votes to determine the winners, a large number of participants will share this content on their own private social networks. When they share their content on social media, it is an indirect endorsement of your brand which helps you gain additional ears and eyeballs.
One of the prominent brands that were successful in doing this was Coca Cola with their “share a coke” campaign. The company produced Coke bottles with customers’ names on the labels and distributed them throughout different regions including North America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Customers were then asked to share the pictures of their personalized Coke bottles on their social media accounts. The company attributes the campaign t a 2% increase in US sales after a decade of declining revenues.
There are various examples of brands utilizing user generated content to not only substitute for their own content but to create a bigger footprint for their brand in the digital space. As long as the mechanism is not too complicated and there is a value to the customer in the end, he or she will definitely think of contributing.
Remember, each and every bit of content you and your customers create is being archived by Google and this content can also be used as fodder for SEO. Knowing how often Google changes its search algorithm, it is advisable to house your contest on your own landing page and use meta-data in your titles and descriptions so that they can be picked up by Google. Not only will you get the free promotion through the relevant ecosystems but you will also pick up new links as people find your content.
The web is a great place to build and capitalize on your user generated content and content-driven contests are a fun and scalable way to build your content. In addition to helping you build your external content library, they will also allow you to engage with your community and maintain long-term relationships with them.
Barry Rodrigues is Head of Marketing & Product Development at Future Communications and an associate advisor with the International Advisors Group in Kuwait. For comments, please email Barry at [email protected]