As a blogger or marketer, do you ever get tired of constantly creating content? If you do it yourself, it takes up hours of your time each week. If you outsource it to someone else, it could cost you a sizeable chunk of change. So, how can you consistently create great content without spending exuberant amounts of time and money on it? Well, for some the answer is three simple words: User Generated Content.
What is User Generated Content?
In the most basic sense, user generated content is any type of content – including videos, blogs, images, and graphics – that is created and shared by the end user or consumer (as opposed to the brand itself).
While Instagram is a social network, it provides a great example of what user generated content looks like. Aside from its own account, Instagram doesn’t produce any other content. It relies 100 percent on its users to produce content for it. This is – perhaps inadvertently – a user generated content strategy.
The 3 Types of User Generated Content That Work
So, what types of user generated content strategies are there? And which companies and brands are using them? Let’s take a quick look:
One of the best options for a brand is to simply offer something of value in return for content. eEuroparts, a wholesale European auto parts company, offers one of the finest examples of what this looks like in practice.
They have something called the eEuroparts Motorsports Program, which is designed to attract loyal customers (racers). The site reads: “As a Motorsport member, every time you submit content to us we reward you with eEuroparts.com site credit that you can use to purchase new parts and fluids for your car!” In other words, the more a user submits, the more rewards they get. It’s a fantastic system that puts the customer first and increases loyalty.
Another popular strategy involves contests. Starbucks is a classic case study when it comes to leveraging contests to produce user generated content. In 2014, they held the Starbucks’ White Cup Contest, which asked customers to doodle their own designs on their cups and then submit pictures as entries. The winning entry would be the template for a new cup design.
The contest was a huge success, producing nearly 4,000 unique images in a span of three weeks. The visibility was great for Starbucks and got customers excited.
- User Reviews
A subtle way to use user generated content involves customer reviews. If you sell products online and gather reviews on your site, you have the right to use these in different ways. Not only can you use the reviews at the top of product pages, but you can also leverage them on your blog and homepage.
Something as simple as a quote on your homepage could be enough to encourage some customers to continue browsing. If you’re able to gather a headshot from the customer to go along with the quote, you’ll see even better results. Here’s an example from HubSpot, a popular inbound marketing software platform.
Let Your Followers Tell Your Story
It can be intimidating to think about letting your followers tell your story, but it can also be quite liberating. When you target your most devoted followers, you don’t have to worry about them compromising your brand image. They are your brand image. They understand your followers better than you understand them, simply because they are a follower.
If you’ve never invested in user generated content, now is the time to develop a strategy. For many businesses and bloggers – including those referenced in this article – this approach to developing content has been quite successful. What are you waiting for?