User generated content meaning
User generated content alternatively known as user-created content (UCC),is written by your users. They are your customers, existing and potential, who are online and can write about their tastes and preferences, opinions and suggestions.
User-generated content or UGC can be defined as content created by website visitors, customers, employees, partners, influencers and other business stakeholders, and you don’t pay for UGC to be shared online. These days the most popular format of UGC is an Instagram image or instagram reel but the UGC format can be text, tweets, reviews, comments, images, videos or sound files too.
Before we discuss how to generate user generated content, let us first look at why it is so important in the context of content marketing. User generated content is essential because most online users prefer to read such content and take decisions.
They know all about content farming and how brands always write positively about themselves. They want an authentic opinion about products and services and that is why they turn to user generated content.
How to generate user generated content
Now, how can you generate user generated content for your content marketing? Get some user created content ideas below.
Related reading: Evergreen content ideas
Provoke their senses & engage them
The most basic trick is to provoke their senses. You can do so by engaging them in discussions, contest, gamification, reviews and debates on social media networks. Users who write such content are usually capable of writing in a presentable way but you need to edit things a little here and there. On the whole, the essence of what the user is trying to say must be retained during the editing process. Do not make it too smooth a work of editing as that might look doctored.
You can get user generated content by the following ways –
- Survey or feedback collection
- Contests (Photo contest, Selfie contest, Hashtag contest, Essay contest, Blog contest)
- Blog or social comments
- User videos
- User Images
- Free giveaways
- Life stories
- News submission by users
- Open QA sessions
- Social learning group or community
- Social cause or common interest
- Triggering emotions through opinionated posts
- Debate or discussions on trending topics
Comment back or respond to your users
Another way to generate user generated content is to comment back on their responses to your blog or article. Blogs have a field to make comments. You can take the discussion on the blog further by adding your two cents in answer to the user’s comment.
Related reading: Blog commenting & Comment marketing tips
That will make the user feel important because you are valuing his words and ideas. They generally write back in such situations. You can extract the part that you think might be useful for your content marketing team. Always inform the user about your decision to blow up their content in your content marketing plan.
User generated content can be picked up from social media networks. Encourage users of Facebook or Twitter to talk about your products and services on your page. If you find something worth promoting or highlighting, do so.
User generated content can sometimes be disjointed or fragmentary. It is an editorial decision to chisel it into structured writing or leave it raw. No matter what you decide, make sure that you are exploiting user generated content in your content marketing’s bag of tricks.
Which User Generated Content to Pick?
Most online companies are wary when it comes to user generated content. Despite understanding the need to publish user generated content, brands shy away from doing so because they are concerned about the effects of such posts.
It is an accepted fact that brands will have to fall upon user generated content because many online readers look upon these posts as the only credible writing about a brand’s products and services. At the same time, you cannot end up publishing content that is detrimental to your brand. So, the trick lies in which user generated content you are going to use. Here are some tips!
Related reading: Guide to online reputation management
Firstly, dig out user generated content that is written sincerely and with purpose. All your users are not going to write about your products and services. This is even truer for those who are not too impressed with what you offered them.
Among those who will write up for your brand, there will be few posts that deal with the subject matter in hand with a certain amount of precision and correctness. Such posts get the idea across and also ensure that your readers find it all rings true at some level.
Secondly, you can prompt your users to write about specific areas about your products and services through the social media networks. Encourage them to share their feedback about your products’ features, the discounts you offered or the after-sales services, free installations, etc.
Other users will be encouraged to buy from your brand when they find user generated posts addressing specific concerns that they run up against. Such posts are also able to connect with users better than the others.
Thirdly, user generated content written by influential online users, like website administrators or even Facebook group admins will be crucial for online publicity. If you publish posts written by these users, their personal ‘followers’ will surely troop in to read what it’s all about!
In turn, these influenced readers will be more convinced about your products and services as compared to the usual users. Such user generated content has all the hallmarks of being shared and liked by numerous users across their own personal circles. This is will mean well for your brand and your website’s online traffic.
User generated content Examples
Most of the popular social media platforms mostly depend on user generated content. Prominent user generated content examples are Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, TikTok, Quora etc. Other examples include blogger.com, WordPress.com, Tumblr & even Wikipedia. CNN’s ireport was also an example of UGC.