An active content marketing strategy will always generate sales. According to recent research from Ipsos MediaCT, millennials trust and remember user-generated content more than content from traditional media. They also spend 30 percent of their media time, or five hours per day, engaged with it.
One of the biggest marketing challenges most small businesses face when executing a content marketing strategy is how to generate enough content to feed a hungry audience on an ongoing basis. Trying to create fresh posts is time consuming and costly.
Free, Fresh Content
Fortunately, there's a source you can tap that can help you generate new content for your site: Ask users to write it for you.
User-generated content is a simple way to provide your site visitors with something new to read or look at. Strictly speaking, any time people leave comments, pictures or videos on your website in response to a blog post or when they're answering other users' questions, you've got fresh content.
What can you do to encourage people to post? These six tips will help:
1. Post passionate content. Users react more strongly to content that has a point of view, especially if it's controversial. If it fits within your brand, encouraging a little controversy can push people to post their opinion. No matter what content you're posting, always express a definite point of view. Review what's specifically worked for your company in the past, and repeat it often.
2. Solicit comments. Don't just ask for feedback—tell users that your company and your online community depend on them. Ask open-ended questions that require a thoughtful answer. “What do you think?” doesn't work. Instead, ask a specific question, like “What has your company done to respond to this threat?” Then post their replies, photos, videos and user experiences.
3. Make interaction easy. While many companies want to capture user details before posting their content, this can be time consuming and divert interaction. If necessary, let people sign in with one of their other IDs, like Twitter, Facebook, Yahoo or Google. Use a star rating system so users can easily add their comments with a touch of the mouse.
4. Use the share button. Make any content easy to share by utilizing “sharing” buttons for Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Google+. This will expand the reach of the page, which will increase the likelihood you'll generate more comments.
5. Post first. Review user comments later. People want their comments to show up immediately before they leave the page—it's counterproductive to have them wait for their comments to be reviewed by your company. With each delay, they'll leave fewer comments. Be sure to have your staff view, respond or reject any content after the fact, but be careful about deleting or editing any comments—doing so could deter users from responding in the future. Instead, only delete the most offensive, clearly inappropriate or off topic comments to show site visitors you can respond to criticism in a proactive way.
6. Make it worthwhile. Give "status” to frequent commenters. For example, let people earn a rank, such as “Verified,” “Gold” or “Top 100.” You could also offer future discounts or early product releases to these users to encourage top posters.
If all else fails, posting pictures of kittens or babies typically gets people to comment.
What specific actions have you taken to generating ongoing user content? Share with us in the comments below.
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