Every organization needs content to maximize its online visibility and build authority in its industry. In fact, content is now the driving force behind modern inbound marketing. It gives search engines something to rank while providing value to your target audience. Without a healthy mix of online content, your business will likely never get off the ground.
Content comes in many different forms, ranging from the humble blog post to lengthy whitepapers. For the most part, your content marketing strategy involves developing, publishing and sharing your own content – but it doesn’t end there. You can also leverage the power of online communities to amplify your message and encourage the creation of user-generated content (UGC).
What Is User-Generated Content and Why Do You Need It?
User-generated content is exactly what it sounds like – content created by your fans and customers. Although UGC is often not endorsed by the company itself, brands have achieved success by making it an integral part of their marketing efforts.
To give an example, luxury fashion brand Burberry launched its Art of the Trench campaign in which it asked customers to post pictures of themselves wearing the brand’s iconic trench coat. The company then curated the submissions before posting them on Facebook, and in doing so, awarded their fans with the fame and recognition they craved.
UGC refers to any customer-created content, whether the brand endorses it or not. Other examples include customer reviews, experiences shared on social media, answers posted on knowledge bases, and online forums and guides written by fans to help others get more out of a particular product or service. In some industries, UGC takes on a distinctly creative approach, as is the case with player-made levels and modifications for video games or user-developed add-ons for popular software.
The great thing about UGC is that it puts your customers in center stage, thereby empowering them with the opportunity to speak their mind and play a key role in the development and direction of your organization.
The truth is, most people don’t trust marketers, which is why banner blindness is on the rise and many companies are all but abandoning traditional methods of advertising. That’s because consumers and business customers alike are far more interested in what other customers have to say. It’s this modern, customer-oriented approach to marketing that makes UGC an essential component of any campaign.
It All Starts with Community
People are social by nature, craving interaction and acceptance through meaningful discussion and strong relationships. Online communities are where those discussions take place and where brands and customers can collaborate with one another. In doing so, you build trust and inspire the growth of brand advocacy.
That’s what makes your owned online community one of the most powerful marketing tools available to you. It’s where user-generated content and real relationships are born.
You can never have too much quality content to amplify your brand’s visibility. A big portion of this will be developed by the brand, either in-house or by hiring freelancers or content marketing agencies. However, using your community to encourage the development of UGC can help amplify your message tenfold. You’re putting your content marketing strategy on autopilot by having your fans consistently create content that’s valuable to other customers.
Branded community forums are home to all sorts of useful content, from peer-to-peer support to user guides, and more. In other words, they’re a major resource for tribal knowledge that would be practically impossible for your company to curate by itself. A healthy community is home to thriving discussion forums and an ever-growing repository of customer experiences, feedback and problem resolutions.
For your business, an owned online community serves as a one-stop shop for marketing, research and development while. For customers, it’s the go-to resource for support and collaboration. To that end, it serves as the centerpiece of any customer-orientated marketing strategy.
One thing every content marketer should do is regularly curate and showcase the most valuable content created by the community. Doing so will reward your content creators with recognition and thanks while encouraging the development of more quality content. By making this an integral part of your content marketing routine, you’ll have everything you need to amplify your branding efforts and build a thriving online community that supercharges the effectiveness of your marketing.