Definitive Guide To User Generated Content Marketing
If you are tired of writing eye-catching articles for your blog, I have a strategy that can bring you lots of traffic and tons of shares without writing a single blog post yourself.
I am talking of leveraging user-generated content to increase the traffic and visibility of your blog.
You’ll love this post then.
Before showing you my secret strategies to getting relevant content without writing a word, let me explain what UGC is all about.
What is User-Generated Content?
User-Generated Content or UGC is defined as any form of content that is generated by the users and not the owner of the platform that owns it.
This can be:
- Expert interviews
- Blog posts
- User generated videos
- Case studies
- Forum content etc.
Hugely popular news sites have leveraged their users to get viral traffic without themselves creating significant content.
Below is an image of such sites, that rely on UGC, along with their traffic stats.
This report was posted by New York Times to show how sites like Huffington Post, USA today and BuzzFeed have surpassed them with the power of content that is generated by their users.
I would like to make one thing clear that this is not exclusively for huge sites. If you are a newbie blogger or one struggling with traffic you can use UGC to see instant results. I will show you how later in this article.
The Power of user generated content:
UGC is a very powerful method of content marketing that has gained mainstream momentum since 2005.
I will speak about the benefits of UGC later in the post but to start off, here are some convincing advantages of using UGC on your blog content marketing strategy.
UGC can help you create some unique and original content for your blog. The content thus generated will be even more relevant to your audience because it is created by one of them. This brings a massive traffic boost to the site hosting the UGC.
Nearly 51% of the Americans trust user generated content more than the official website of the brand or product.
So, if you are a blogger or affiliate marketer, you can use this trend to earn huge income by promoting the right products to your readers.
Because your readers trust you more than the official website, you can make a good income by providing what your readers want.
UGC also adds variety to the boring blog articles and thus boost engagement on your site.
You can also use it to save your time creating content and thus devote your time elsewhere that brings better results to your business/blog.
Tips and strategies to create user-generated content:
Convinced about the importance of UGC?
Let’s go through the various strategies and see how you can use them to create more content, more sales and save more time to invest on your other business aspects.
1. Using Guest Posts:
Guest blogging is still relevant and rocking as far as you use it to create value for your readers.
But, today we will see how to use your peers and readers to guest post for you on your blog. Bigger sites have thrived on this one trick to boost authority and credibility of their sites.
Search Engine Journal, one of the most popular marketing blog, Content Marketing Institute, ShoutMeLoud all have used their readers and industry connections to write guest articles for them (mostly for free).
If you are someone who has little knowledge or no influence in a field, you can still leverage guest blogging to make your blog influential and boost your content marketing strategies.
You can take Oprah Winfrey’s example here. When Oprah started out, hardly anyone knew her. She has little knowledge in the field of books, health and so on.
What she smartly did was instead of trying to become an authority, she leveraged the existing authorities and used their tips and interviews (user generated content, see?) to build her own brand.
How you can use this:
You can use guest blogging by inviting other bloggers and sometimes, your readers too to write content for you. This will save your time and you will get authentic user generated content.
Guest blogging can also be used to build authentic relationships with fellow bloggers and tap into their audience zone for more exposure. See what Kristi Hines has to say about how guest blogging has helped her.
Did you notice that she did not only write guest posts but also invited others to write for her blog? Follow the following steps to get your blog noticed:
1. Set up a ‘write for us’ page on your blog:
The first thing you can do is to let your readers know that you are open for submissions. You can quickly create a “write for us” page by simply adding details about how readers can contact you, what is your preferred content format, any policies regarding link backs and copyright policies.
HellBoundBloggers.com has a very detailed and well-presented form of “Write for us” page. Check it out for some inspiration.
2. Search for resources that list blogs for guest posting and request them to add your link in the list. Since they are already having a list of sites accepting guest post, they will easily agree to add up you.
See how Swadhin leveraged this massive list of blogs that accept guest posts and tweeted the author to include his blog name too.
Here is another list that has blogs accepting guest posts. If your blog isn’t on the list already, reach out to them.
2. Conducting roundup posts:
I know this is nothing new to you, but recently roundup posts are trending and selling like hot cakes. If you don’t already know, round up posts are the ones where you ask a few questions (usually 1 or 2) to other influencers (and even readers who have some expertise) in your niche. You then compile them into one epic post and publish it.
After the post is published, you notify the participants that they are featured and if they mind sharing it with their audience.
If you have not leveraged round up posts, now is the high time using this form of user-generated content to crank out some epic blog posts that bring:
- Lots of traffic: since these types of posts have easily digestible bits of tips from influencers.
- You increase your blog’s readership because round up posts help you tap into the fan-base of the participant. Imagine getting your post tweeted by Rand Fishkin. You are definitely going to grab some eyeballs that would otherwise never know your blog existed.
- With all these traffic, share count is going to explode.
- Link backs: Most influencers link back to all the major posts where they are cited so you can easily get backlinks doing nothing, with user generated content. I have covered this trick in details in this post.
How to conduct expert roundups and get influencers to create content for your blog?
Nowadays, every blog, big or small features at least one expert roundup that has gotten them more traffic, more shares and a boost to their content marketing campaign.
Here are a few things to keep in mind while conducting an expert roundup:
- Build relationship with the participants. It is not necessary, but a previous interaction makes the response easy and fast.
- Ask them a question that is trending or will solve the problem of your readers.
- If possible, try to see how you can monetize the post. This is not unethical. You can use the post to give away as an incentive to your mailing list. Most expert roundups rank well so you can keep it focused around a product that can help you in affiliate sales. Since your readers already know and respect your authorities in the post, they will take no time to buy a product the experts recommend. See how Robbie Richard used his expert roundup to sell SEMrush and Long Tail Pro to his readers.
Teaching you how to create an expert roundup is beyond the scope of this article; however, you can get a detailed tutorial here.
3. Leveraging Twitter chats for generating content:
Twitter chats are an extremely easy and fun way to get a lot of user generated content that can be used as a blog post or as testimonials.
Either way, it will have SEO benefits and an appropriate chat can even sell your products to your readers.
In Twitter chats, you invite one or two influencers, announce (and market) that you will have a twitter chat to your existing readers and followers so they can take part in large numbers. And then conduct the discussion at the decided time with a hashtag.
Since every tweet coming to the conversation will have that particular hashtag, you can easily identify and keep track. There are also tools like tweetchat that help you manage these type of events in a hassle-free manner.
To get started, read this ultimate guide to twitter chats by Ian Cleary.
Even if you do not want to conduct a Twitter chat yourself, you can always hop into existing ones and use the content to come up with a roundup post at your blog (don’t forget to give proper credits to the participants).
See how SEMrush uses twitter chats to stay in the trends of industry news.
SEMrush invites experts and also conducts chats where everyone is free to give their opinion. This hack helps SEMrush to boost social engagement and create an impression in the minds of its followers.
— SEMrush (@semrush) May 18, 2016
It later repurposes the best tweets into a blog post. This saves content creation time and readers also get valuable insights from the best tweets posted.
Tools like, chatsalad can help you find trending Twitter chats within your desired industry.
Apart from these, getting more blog comments, developing a forum and collecting user testimonials are also very good examples of user generated content.
Having said that, with time, the above methods of content generated by users can act as social proof and helps build your brand.
Apart from all these, some more examples of user generated content are contests and giveaways, forum content and using of testimonials on your website.
User generated content marketing case studies:
To inspire you, I have compiled a few of the case studies where user generated content has helped brands build more credibility, earn more revenue and drive more traffic to their websites.
1. 36,282 Readers + 1,000 Email Subscribers
Jimmy Dali, from Vero used the expert roundup version of user generated content and gained nearly 36K visitors and 1000 email subscribers from a single post.
No wonder he crafted the best content and combined the user generated content with great design, most influential shares and backlinks came from the tweets and shares of the influencers that participated in it. This helped him to get the word out, and his blog is now considered an authority on the subject.
He also got tons of backlinks from many blogs including Inc.com
Read more about the complete process at the Backlinko blog.
Not only bloggers and marketers, but brands are also increasingly using UGC to increase more sales and ultimately generate more revenue. Coca-cola is a well known brand when it comes to using content generated by their fans and users.
In it’s well-known “Share a Coke” campaign, Coca-cola produced bottles with the names of their customers and asked them to tweet a picture of the bottle in an innovative way.
The result of this massive marketing campaign was that they projected a 2% increase in US sales after years of declining revenues.
Here are 10 more examples of how user generated content marketing can benefit you.
User generated content best practices:
Like every other content marketing campaign, UGC can go horribly wrong if you don’t plan things wisely.
1. Beware of spam content:
Most UGC, if not moderated, can result in spam content. Since this is user generated content, your users are free to submit the form of content they like.
If you don’t check that what they write and submit, it can result in loss of credibility and at the worst can result in search engine penalty.
Mozilla was penalised by Google just because it had accumulated some spammy user generated content on its website.
This is only true in case of forms of UGC like comments, reviews or testimonials where you don’t have control as to who generates the content.
When you are doing expert roundups or guest blogging you know and select people who are reputed hence no chance of spamming.
2. Thin content issues:
User generated content like comments, forum answers are often thin content with little or no in-depth discussion over the topic. And, Google’s complex algorithm is wise enough to detect such spammy and thin content even if it is on an authority site like QuickSprout.
Neil Patel finally shut down his forum because it did more bad than good with its user generated thin content.
3. Beware of legal issues:
With more power comes more responsibility. This is equally true with UGC. While UGC empowers brands to use content generated by users for their own benefits, sometimes they cross copyright borders in the attempt.
You have to aware that user generated content is ethically protected by their own rights. To stay away from legal hassles and search engine penalties, you have to make sure that they deliver you the rights to use their content.
Crocs, a wearable product retailer, fell into copyright issues when it pulled out an Instagram picture of one of it’s users and placed it as UGC on their website.
Bloggers and marketers need to be careful before posting a guest post on their blog. Don’t forget to ensure the post is owned by the writer and also restrict them from publishing the posts elsewhere.
Similarly, don’t use a testimonial of others without making sure the user gave you permission to use their words for your business purpose.
These all might not seem so important and legal actions are not that common; still when they happen, they can wipe out every trace of your success and brand.
Over to you: Here is how to leverage UGC
User generated content is something everyone is talking about these days.
Bigger brands use it extensively but as bloggers and marketers we can still leverage our readers and fellow marketers to create awesome UGC that will help us increase traffic, generate revenue and most importantly build a strong connection with our peers and followers.
I would suggest you to go and leverage some UGC for building the blog momentum you have always been dreaming of.
Request an expert to appear for an interview on your blog or better request 5, 10 or 40 of them to conduct a roundup post.
Let me know the result. 🙂