Creating and distributing content has become one of the most important things a brand can do to increase its online presence and website traffic. But what if you don’t have the resources to constantly produce the new content you need to drive traffic?
One way to keep up with the growing need for fresh content is to look to other sources for your online content, like your audience. The idea of user-generated content has become an incredibly popular way to quickly source site content for marketing efforts.
What is User-Generated Content?
User-generated content is exactly that: content created by a brand’s user. The content can be anything from images to videos to blog posts. The user could be a brand’s customer, site visitor, or social follower.
User-Generated Content Sites
One way to benefit from user-generated content is to create a site that collects and distributes it. There are a lot of websites out there that were founded on this principle, and many you may have already heard of. These websites benefit from the free content that they can show site visitors and the users benefit from a site that will not only host their content, but will also promote it. Below are some popular examples of UGC sites.
YouTube may be one of the most successful UGC sites to date, boasting 100 hours of videos being uploaded to the site every minute. YouTube has also seen many of its users submitting content turned into real stars, which could be why it sees so much content being submitted all the time.
Wikipedia is a free encyclopedia that allows anyone to edit entries. The site currently has more than 125,000 active users submitting or editing the content, which has contributed to more than 749.4 million page edits since the site was set up.
Inbound.org is an inbound marketing blog where users submit content that they created or found online. Other readers then go on to vote on the quality of the submissions, and the highest rated pieces are featured at the top. In that sense, Inbound relies on its users not just to supply fresh content, but also to judge the content to make sure it’s relevant.
The “front page of the Internet” site Reddit was founded on the the idea of aggregating user-generated content as Inbound.org does. But Reddit has the unique feature of subreddits. These are category pages created and administered by individual users that stand to collect user submissions on the given topic.
User-Generated Content Campaigns
Brands can also take advantage of user-generated content. Here are some contests and situations popular brands set up in order to generate some content from their users.
Coca-Cola recently came out with a line of can and bottles that read, “Share a Coke with (insert name).” Coke drinkers flocked to stores to find the can with their name on it, and many would go on to take a photo for social media with the hashtag #shareacoke. Coca Cola went on to share many of these pictures with its social following.
GoPro is a company that encourages the submission of videos taken with its product. Users can go to the online submission form to submit their videos for a chance to win either photo or video of the day. GoPro then shares these submissions on its social channels.
Grubhub has turned to using UGC for its Snapchat campaigns. The campaign below asked users to send them a food doodle for the chance to win a prize. Grubhub went on to feature some of the doodles on its Snapchat story.
The Benefits of User-Generated Content
We recently held a #SproutChat wherein we asked some of our Twitter followers what their thoughts were on the idea of user-generated content. One question we asked was, “What value can user-generated content bring to a brand?” Here are some of the responses sent to us via Twitter:
Have you seen any great examples of user-generated content sites or campaigns that you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments!
Michael Patterson: Michael enjoys writing about all things social media, and his insights can be found on Adweek's SocialTimes, Social Media Today and Social Media Examiner. When he isn't pouring over blog posts he can usually be found exploring Chicago's unique neighborhoods and breweries.