Shake up your brand marketing with user-generated content.

User-generated content includes blog posts, comments, photos, videos, reviews, or other content created by customers—not by internal employees at your organization. It’s all from the outside, produced by people excited by your brand.  

And other people love it.

Millennials are smitten with user-generated content. They say it’s 35 percent more memorable and 50 percent more trusted than traditional sources such as TV or print ads. Since customers aren’t paid to heap praise upon their favorite products, peer reviews and word-of-mouth are typically considered more valuable than the usual brand messaging. Their opinions are genuine, thus they’re worth listening to.

They’re worth leveraging, too. So long as they get permission from the creators, brands should take user-generated content and share it with others to gain an increase in authenticity, trustworthiness, and visibility.

Here are four ways to leverage user-generated content:

1. Give Them a Space to Create

People love sharing opinions and belonging to like-minded communities. Give them your customers a space where they can feel like a part of a community; where they can share ideas, propose plans, and leave feedback related to your product or service. In other words, where they can create content.

That space can take the shape of an old-fashioned web forum (prepare an army of mods in that case) or a Medium-like blog where users can post articles or user-made videos. For an idea of what this could look like, check out Lego Ideas, where block-builders post construction ideas. Or the Xbox Ambassadors program, which lets video game fans create YouTube videos and discuss Halo strategy on Twitch.  

In these owned spaces, brands can take note of what users are creating and saying, leverage their feedback for future services or for other content (see the next few points).

2. Pull From User Reviews

Each time you convert or make a sale, ask for feedback. Send a follow-up email and lead customers to your review page or encourage them to write a short blurb on Google, TripAdvisor, Yelp, or wherever else. This feedback is important.  

First, that all-important word-of-mouth signals to other potential customers that your service is worth seeking out. 53 percent of millennials say they always or almost always read online reviews, so receiving lots of positive feedback should be a top goal. Second, your content team can use those comments and reviews as text overlays in your pictures and videos. Share those accolades on social media and your brand will receive a boost in reputation and visibility.

Before you pull those quotes, though, reach out and ask customers if it’s okay to use their words in marketing materials. Asking goes a long way in creating goodwill.

3. Boost Your Social Media Presence

User-generated content is inherently social. After all, you’re forming a social contract by asking for content from customers in order to build social proof. Customers understand you will share their content on their behalf with their explicit permission (never take without asking unless you want a severe dent to your reputation). They also understand that they’re boosting their favorite brand in the eyes and minds of fellow fans, who could view this content as a first touchpoint.

So, don’t let that content go to waste and share it on the social channels where your customers gather. Facebook is great for sharing quick articles, pictures, and videos. Twitter is also great for sharing visual content like pictures, memes, and video. Same for Instagram, of course, but if you use content featuring your brand that you find on a user’s profile be sure to ask permission before you “regram.”

Social analytics are also a great way to measure the effectiveness of your user-generated content. Keeping a pulse on which pieces of content elicit the most likes, shares, and other engagements can give you an idea of who your power users are and other potential influencers that can help leverage their audiences and network to drive more awareness of your products and services.

These quick tips can help you get started with leveraging user-generated content or even help you kickstart your user-generated content curation efforts to the next level. Need some more in-depth advice? Give us a shout!

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