How To Develop The User-Generated Content (UGC) Your Brand Desperately Needs
This post was originally published as a chapter in our eBook, Inspiring Customers to Create Content for You: A Marketer’s Guide.
If you’re already finding success with advocate-created content, you may not see the point in encouraging your advocates to write comments, reviews or testimonials on third-party websites you don’t own.
But you can’t control a buyer’s journey any more than you can control the weather.
Buyers want to hear from people with the same needs and fears they have. And they’re going to seek out this information on their terms and in the places they like to visit, like industry forums or private social networks—all places your brand (likely) isn’t welcome.
That’s why we rely on user-generated content (UGC) to drive positive word of mouth for our brand—especially where it isn’t appropriate for us to step in and do it.
Propelling customers through the buyer journey with user-generated content
No matter where a customer is in the sales cycle, user-generated content can help to move them forward.
- Getting your customers to do media interviews or leave comments on relevant blogs helps build top of funnel brand awareness.
- Positive user reviews help your target buyers find and validate your solution during the research phase.
- Public community discussions answer questions and speed up the decision- making process.
You may think UGC is out of your control. But your team can influence it; you just need to empower and inspire your advocates first.
How to inspire your customers to create UGC
This constant communication makes it easy to ask our advocates for a review, or take on a PR request, whenever the need arises.
Nurturing our advocates has helped us generate more than 300 reviews across technology review websites—which made us the top-ranked solution in our product category on G2 Crowd and IT Central Station. We’ve also quickly sourced customers to participate in media interviews, combat competitor’s claims in blog comments on third- party websites, and answer questions on Quora, Reddit, StackOverflow and other properties.
There’s no telling how far an advocate who believes in your product will go to be a champion for your brand.
It’s important to position your requests based on your advocates’ motivations.
Many advocates simply want to help their peers succeed. Presenting opportunities to generate content for your brand as a way to contribute to the larger community will appeal to them the most.
Other advocates want to expand their professional influence, so positioning your ask as a chance to showcase their expertise and increase clout will work better.
How to keep the cycle of UGC going
Make sure you recognize advocates in ways that are meaningful to them.
Some will appreciate a plug in your content or a speaking slot at a conference, while others will be satisfied with a gesture of gratitude, like a thank you card or VIP treatment at your next event.
In all cases, it’s your job to understand what motivates your advocates, and to build programs around that. It could inspire your advocates to go out and create UGC for your brand all on their own.
Davin’s top insights for inspiring more user-generated content
- Give advocates something of value before asking for favours—think educational tips or helpful resources
- Present opportunities as a chance to help others grow social capital
- Surround advocates with your messaging so they incorporate it into any UGC they create