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The Small Business Owner’s Guide to User-Generated Content

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The phrase “content is king” still holds true. Creating quality content is far more important than the sheer amount of content you have.

About 70% of marketers could  use help creating an integrated or consistent content strategy, based on research from Altimeter. The fact is, most brands don’t have the expertise or resources to compete with larger, more established firms with bigger marketing budgets.

Smaller businesses should consider taking advantage of user-generated content. In this guide, we’ll discuss how user generated content could help you develop your business’s digital marketing and search strategies.

What is User Generated Content?

User-generated content (UGC) can take many forms, including user reviews, question-and-answer forums, blogging, social media posts, wikis, and even original art.

This content might be created on a non-branded third-party website such as Wikipedia, or on your branded domain in areas that are managed or monitored by administrators.

User-generated content is the product of unpaid contributors creating original content about your service or product and posting it on your site or other channels. This can be a comment on your Facebook page, a piece of art featuring your product, or a full blog post.

The goal of UGC is to connect users with your brand and with each other in compelling and creative ways that spread awareness.

Benefits of User Generated Content

Small business owners are already very busy, so giving some of the responsibility for marketing and advertising to your own audience can give you back some valuable time.

UGC is a useful hack to involve your audience in marketing, to encourage interaction and pull from a stream of fresh content. Taking full advantage of UGC can yield a variety of benefits to both your audience and your brand.

Audience Benefits

  • Content your audience makes will reflect the unique interests and challenges of their peers, helping to make your brand feel relatable to other potential customers.
  • As participants in your content creation process, your audience will feel more invested in your brand’s story which they are helping to tell.
  • User-generated content is inherently personal and allows for audiences to see themselves reflected in your marketing and advertising and feel valued by your brand.

Brand Benefits

  • Audiences engage more concretely with your brand through the active and interactive environment provided by UGC.
  • Mobilizing your audience through UGC can improve your SEO rankings and increase your site traffic.
  • Customers that view user-generated content are more likely to share and create content themselves, exponentially increasing the reach of your content.
  • By directly tapping your audience for content, you get unique and fine-grained insight into your customer base.
  • UGC stays on the internet forever and is therefore highly visible and can inspire audiences to create more content in the future.
  • This strategy saves you time by outsourcing content creation.
  • Because the users that generate content for your site are unpaid, you save money and have more internal resources to spend on other things

Ways to Create User Generated Content for Your Small Business

Here are some ways you can create exciting user-generated content that benefits your audience and your brand.

Customer Surveys

Customer surveys not only generate insightful information, but also provide unique, proprietary data. They can be as extensive or informal as you like (think Facebook polls vs. full on-reports). However, regardless of their depth, they always result in valuable content.

Start by assessing the customer data you already have and considering what sorts of gaps you could fill in with polling.

Expert Q&As

Hosting interviews with experts in your field is a quick and easy way to educate customers, expand your own knowledge and strengthen industry relationships. You likely already have some good contacts on this front and can tap them to participate in a Q&A, record a podcast, or co-brand a piece of content.

Expert Q&As are another effective strategy for spreading awareness and deepening your customers’ personal investment in your product or service.

Creative Use-Cases

Product reviews on their own can be a little boring, especially since they only really matter to the customers who haven’t yet bought the product in question. In addition to product reviews, consider inviting your community to share their successful or unique use-cases of one of your products or services online. This is a great way to showcase your product.

Sometimes it can even result in additional product ideas. For example, one of your customers might use your product to solve an unconventional problem, leading you to develop a new product more directly suited to the task.

Taking advantage of user-generated content can help you spread awareness, foster a close customer community, and save both money and time. User-generated content expands the marketing and advertising possibilities available to you exponentially all while allowing for maximum business efficiency and an even closer connection between you and your customers

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