Content marketing continues to be one of the more powerful ways to market your small business. It can help you maintain a strong brand identity for your audience and create a long-term and trustworthy relationship with those who actively seek out your content to answer questions they have. However, content marketing is hard, which is why it’s so important to take advantage of user-generated content for your marketing.

What is user-generated content?

reviewsUser-generated content is any content that has been created, published, and/or submitted by users of a brand. Often, contributors are unpaid fans who promote a brand instead of the brand promoting itself. It can consist of several different types of content, usually images, videos, social media posts, reviews, or testimonials. This is not typically paid content, but content users provide out of their own desire to promote the brand.

Where can you use user-generated content?

User-generated content can be used in several ways. You’ll often see this kind of content on a brand’s social media platforms, but it can also be used on your website, print marketing, or almost any other channel of marketing. You’ll often see user-generated content (UGC) on social platforms such as Instagram and Facebook. This type of content usually is in the form of pictures or videos, which is the preferred two formats for those creating UGC for a brand.

Why use UGC?

trustThere are several reasons why it’s a good idea for small businesses to use UGC as a part of their marketing efforts. First, it promotes trust because the messaging is coming from someone other than the brand itself, which makes its credibility seem even more legitimate and sincere. As a matter of fact, 92% of consumers trust recommendations from people they know, and 70 percent trust online consumer opinions. That’s why recommendations, reviews, and testimonials are so powerful for small businesses. It can actually drive a potential customer’s business decision if they’re unsure or unfamiliar with the brand. There’s also an SEO benefit to UGC: positive customer reviews can improve your SEO rankings. According to Kissmetrics, “25% of search results for the world’s top 20 largest brands are links to user-generated content.” UGC can boost social media engagement, growth, and reach. Last, it’s a great way to see what your customers think of you and your brand, which provides invaluable insights.

Examples of user-generated content

We’ve mentioned a few already, but here are additional examples of UGC:

  • Testimonials
  • Reviews
  • Recommendations
  • Product pictures
  • Videos
  • How-to content
  • Blogs or articles

How can you encourage your customers to create UGC for your brand?

create UGCThere are several ways to get UGC for your company, depending on the type of content. When it comes to testimonials or reviews, the best way is to ASK. One of the more powerful ways to market your business is through customer reviews, yet many small business owners have difficulty asking clients for reviewsLet your clients help you market your small business by providing reviews, testimonials, product demonstrations, and more. Happy clients are more than willing to do this if you ask! Here are a few more ways to get user-generated content:

  • Host an event
  • Run a contest
  • Leverage hashtags to find existing content

Need more ideas? Check out NewsCred’s 10 ways to get more UGC.

User-generated content can be as simple as a review or as robust as a customer-created how-to guide to one of your products. UGC will depend on what kind of product or service you have, how engaged your customers are, and how assertive you are in asking your trusted customers to participate. Knowing what UGC is, how to use it, and how it will benefit your small business marketing will help guide you to the best way to obtain and use user-generated content for your own marketing. No matter where you start, take advantage of user-generated content for your marketing to help build brand awareness, and ideally generate more leads.

Patty Hughes
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