Ben Dickens, June 13, 2013
It’s time to start curating user generated content (UGC), you need it on your site. You know why? Because it gets people interested in, engaging with and sharing your brands story. Above all it builds trust, people trust other people more than your brand, get over it it’s a fact. Content marketing and integrated campaigns feel lacking without the addition of UGC, such is it’s power.
But, not all UGC is the same and every company requires a different variety. UGC can fall into various categories, including product reviews, blog posts, forum entries and social media sharing. Most importantly, not always is it beneficial. The mindset shift in a UGC world is moving from simply creating content to curating user generated content.
Content created by your users does a lot to influence your brand. It stands as a representation of your company and has a lot of sway in recruiting potential customers to your site.
So, before you start plastering your UGC all over the web, consider which type of audience you want to attract.
Once you know this, you can start seeding your site or social media stream with comments and content that is going to get your desired audience communicating with your brand.
Here are a few ways to inspire people to generate content for your brand:
Run a competition
This year, Tourism Australia has re-launched their ‘Best Job in the World’ competition, which gives people the chance to win one of six amazing jobs in Australia, while also subsequently promotes tourism in the country.
After huge success last year, YouTube, Canon and Ron Howard have teamed up again for Project Imagin8ion. The competition asks photographers to submit their most imaginative photographs under categories including setting, character and time, with a winner being selected in each. This will form the fodder for a 30-minute movie to be directed by Howard. While the entrants get the opportunity to contribute to a movie directed by a Hollywood star, the brands also get their names shared and publicised.
Make a platform for people to contribute to
Websites like TripAdvisor and Allrecipes do this very well. In fact, much of their business plan depends on UGC. For these brands, having their users providing the content for their site creates a website for people who want advise from a community of likeminded and knowledgeable people. It’s the relatable factor that makes this approach work. On these sites, users contribute travel advice and recipes respectively. Millions of users log on daily for advice from people like them, not a travel writer being paid to review a hotel, or a top chef expecting every household to have a pasta maker and a bamboo sushi rolling mat.
The Guardian has also just implemented this approach. Their new platform – GuardianWitness – invites anybody who’s in the right place at the right time to contribute live news content to the site, whether video, photographs or audio material.
Make UGC your product
Chicago-based printing company Threadless sells designer t-shirts. But, it’s not what you might expect. The company invites artists to submit their creative designs to their site for ranking. Over a week, the Threadless community rates the designs from 1 to 5 and leaves feedback that helps the company decide which piece to print on a t-shirt. The chosen artists receive upfront cash and royalties from the sales. Effectively, the users are doing all of the work; all Threadless has to do is print the t-shirts.
Trust your users
After all, they’re the ones who will buy your product. Burberry launched the site, Art of the Trench, in 2009 and in true high-end designer fashion, paved the way for many other brands to follow. The website shows photographs of real, fashionable people wearing the iconic Burberry trench coat. Utilising your users photographs is a great way to get people sharing your brand on social streams.
Yogawear brand Lululemon has also done this effectively by incorporating Instagram into their marketing plan. Using a specific hashtag, users were asked to tweet or Instagram photos of themselves living #TheSweatLife and wearing Lululemon clothing.
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