Build Web Traffic With User Generated Content

by Jul 31, 20146 comments

July 2020 – Editor’s Note – It has been almost six years since Lorraine gave this presentation, but the strategies are as relevant today as they were then.  If anything, social media has grown more sophisticated, and the tools for cultivating User Generated Content are more abundant than over. 

Business experts agree one of the best ways to grow a business is with “OPM” (Other people’s money). The idea is to reduce your risk and multiply the impact of your capital with loans from banks or resources from investors. The influx of capital helps accelerate the growth of a business.

This same strategy can apply to your online marketing. To accelerate the expansion of your brand you need “OPC” (Other people’s content). In marketing circles the technical term is user generated content (UGC).

Now I am not suggesting you go out and scrape content from other websites and share it as your own. That type of plagiarism won’t win you any friends in the long run. No, I am talking about encouraging people to share their experiences with your brand, or simply their expertise in words and pictures.

This process of encouraging, collecting and sharing  user generated content can take many forms. Let’s take a look at some of the more common ones.

The Review

One of the most common forms of UGC is the review.  Are you looking for a restaurant when you are traveling, a plumber to fix a leaky faucet or the best refrigerator to buy?  If you are like most consumers, you probably have checked out a few reviews in your purchase process.  This reliance on online resources is not limited to consumers in the millennial generation. The research shows consumers of all ages are checking out what their peers have to say.

According to one study by Cone Inc, 85% of consumers are more likely to open their wallets when online recommendations support offline advice. The key to a good review program is to remember to ask your customers to complete the review. Be sure to respond to questions or concerns which surface in the review process.

One thing which has changed since this post was originally drafted six years ago is the growth of Google My Business.  Today, the map reviews are an important part of your online profile, giving confidence to potential customers, and key word rich content for the Google search engine. 


Source Material

Have a question?  Looking for ideas and inspiration? Go to your community.

One of the most interesting examples of this is Jimmy Fallon, who routinely tosses out questions on twitter. Then he  reads some of the best responses during his show.

Who needs writers when you have an engaged audience who will write material for you?

jimmy fallon

There are two important keys to using your community to create source material

  • You must have an engaged community before  you ask them to create content.  If you aren’t regularly interacting with your community, they will be less willing to play along with you when you throw out a request. 
  • Say thank you.  People intereact on social media because they want to be noticed.  If you acknowledge contributions people will be more likely to respond the next time you ask.


From simple photo contests on Instagram to complex essay or recipe submissions, even simple prizes can motivate customers to share how they use your product.

This example from Dove asked women to share why they thought their friend had real beauty.  The contest was a natural on Facebook as women shared stories about each other. The winning entries were featured in an advertising campaign.

The contest was a double win for Dove. The campaign went viral giving the brand wide exposure on Facebook and it reduced the cost of the campaign development since no professional models were required.

Tip: If you want to increase involvement, make the contest simple and relevant to the target audience.

Example of a User Generated Content Contest

The Bottom Line

User generated content is effective because it gets people involved with your brand.  As they participate, they become  more vested in the outcome. When they share their experiences in their own words, it gives your marketing a level of authenticity which will resonate with other prospective customers.

Here’s your chance to create some user generated content of your own.  Share a comment with your thoughts on user generated content with me on Twitter @lorraineball

More on this topic check out the video and slide deck from my presentation at Mixwest. 

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