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[Community] User Generated Content in Online Communities

Posted by Alok Chowdhury on Mar 9, 2017 10:00:57 AM

3 minute read

One of the most commonly asked questions regarding online communities is “How do I keep my community members engaged?” Of course, a community that struggles to produce content can hardly be considered a community at all.

In the early days of your community, it will be important to populate your forum with content. Ultimately, the goal of any successful community is for the members to take over and start creating their own.

When community members begin creating and sharing their own content, the community as a whole benefit from increased exposure, higher engagement rates, and better rankings in search engine results.

The Simple Power of User Generated Content

User generated content truly is as simple as it sounds. It’s content (pictures, videos, posts, graphics, tweets, testimonials, etc.) that have been created by users. On the brand side, the goal is to promote the brand or increase revenue. Those aren’t necessarily the goals of the customers who participate, but rather the side effect.

One of the most successful user-generated content campaigns was put on by the Coca-Cola Company in the early 2010s. The premise was simple, they prompted people to Share a Coke and plastered every name imaginable on the sides of their bottles.

This simple act caused billions of snippets of user generated content to flood the internet. People went through great lengths to find people with whom to share a Coke, and they went through even greater lengths in attempts to find a bottle with their name on it.

Coca-Cola consumers weren’t concerned with promoting the soft drink company when they shared millions of images of Coca-Cola bottles and tagged their friends in it on Facebook, but the result was an increase in exposure for Coca-Cola. What’s more, after over a decade in declining revenues, Coca-Cola points to this simple campaign for an increase in U.S sales.

Driving Growth and Traffic

User generated content has been beneficial to a number of well-known brands. At its basic level, it’s a campaign that is targeted at increasing the engagement levels of your community and inspiring them to become involved.

UGC is also a fantastic way to help drive growth and traffic to your online community. It’s also a great way to boost your presence on the internet without having to put in an overload of man-hours.

As in the case of Coca-Cola, the vast majority of the content was created by the community, and not Coca-Cola itself. Online forums have used this tactic for years. Asking your community to create fan art, name a product, create a slogan, or share their experiences is all drumming up content that would otherwise be created by a company.

And it Pays Off Too

As it turns out, consumers trust content created by their peers more so than content created by the brands themselves.

  • 92% of consumers say they trust user opinions more than advertising
  • UGC is 50% more trusted by consumers than typical media

UGC is causing companies to rethink their marketing strategies. Rather than creating a message, the new push is to create a forum for people to share their own message. Simply put, if your company is good at what they do, people will respond.
Chobani Yogurt did just that.

In 2009 they asked their loyal customer to share images and video of their experiences with the product. By allowing their fan community to share their own experiences, Chobani says the company experienced a 225.9% increase in sales between 2009-2010.

A Winning Long-Term Play

Over time, user generated content more than pays for itself in terms of real revenue, as well as good will within your community. The more content that gets created, the more interest in your community is generated.

The main reason behind the success is that it puts your community in the driver’s seat. And at the end of the day, a successful community is driven by its users.

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Topics: Community, Marketing

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