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How user-generated content can improve your marketing

Aug 22, 2017
How user-generated content can improve your marketing

There are, naturally, many different types of content, each with its own merits and potential challenges. At the start of this year we wrote about the difference between Earned, Owned, or Paid content, and argued that marketers should weigh the pros and cons of each avenue to create the right balance for their strategy aims.

Yet say you have chosen to go down the earned content route, which is best defined as ‘exposure that you’ve earned through word-of-mouth’ and includes ‘mentions, positive reviews, reposts and recommendations.’ Perhaps one of the biggest challenges with employing this kind of content is that much of it is user-generated, as opposed to being created by in-house teams or agencies. This requires additional thought and management, but when done correctly can prove to be a highly effective and influential form of marketing.

Here are two ways that user-generated content can work for your marketing strategy:

Keep it fresh and relevant

With social media often at the heart of user-generated content, both in terms of collection and distribution, the pace of constant uploading leaves no room for old or outdated content. If you are planning to work with user-generated content it must be fresh and relevant, but here in lies another issue: how do you collect such high volumes of user-generated content to be used in your marketing. 

According to a white paper by Bazaarvoice for Marketing Week, ‘continuous pursuit of fresh, relevant consumer-generated content is a foundational practice for success.’ Suggesting that organic customer feedback can often be overly negative or overly positive, Bazaarvoice believes that by ‘requesting authentic feedback from every purchaser, marketers ensure that CGC reflects a rich, representative, and fresh picture of a product’s strengths and weaknesses.’

This user-generated content is collected in a number of ways, with the most popular methods including asking for feedback via post-interaction emails, using incentivised requests, and using organic or paid social media content. By employing a mix of collection strategies and not relying wholly on incentivised feedback, brands can gather large volumes of user-generated content that can be used effectively.

User-generated content isn’t just for B2C

Although user-generated content seems to fit more naturally with B2C marketing given the more direct relationship with customers, it can also be valuable in the B2B sphere. Skyword’s publication ContentStandard recently wrote that ‘from social media to user-generated content, there seems to be a bucket of tactics in marketing that B2B brands like to think just can’t work for them as effectively as for B2C.’ And yet ContentStandard argues this is simply not the case, and suggests that ‘by pulling back from these approaches B2B brands are not only missing out on great content and publication opportunities—they’re also distancing themselves from the actual needs and interests of their consumers.’

Acknowledging that while it may be true that user engagement levels are lower for B2B brands, contributor Kyle Harper argues that this is only one value of user-generated content. He believes that the value of this content for B2B brands is in fact it’s worth as a market intelligence opportunity, as it allows B2B brands to ‘test or learn something about what interests your audience.’  

Noting that many B2B products then go on to be sold to customers through the middle party, Harper argues that B2B brands should be actively seeking the feedback and engagement driven by their B2C partner in order to see human interest in their end product. Using Adobe and UPS as his examples, Harper concludes that ‘at its core, a B2B user-generated content marketing strategy hinges on encouraging people to talk about or share what they find human and engaging about your brand.’

Whatever your sector and whatever your scale, there is something to be gained from well-managed and relevant user-generated content. By pursuing a holistic collection strategy and drawing insights from the data you gather, user-generated content can be put to work in the earned content arena.


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