Creating Content: A Role for Your Contacts and Connections

Group Of Multi-Ethnic People Social Networking

As content marketing has emerged as a top go-to tactic for marketers of all kinds in all industries, the challenge that many have been faced with is how to generate the massive amounts of content often required to feed the funnel. Even large organizations with internal staff dedicated to marketing and communications often find themselves turning to others for content creation.

That’s certainly a great thing for firms like ours, and we help a number of individuals and organizations create a variety of content. But there’s another great source of content that can be leveraged in big and small ways to help feed the demand for content: your own contacts and connections.

Also referred to as “user-generated” content, it’s the idea of reaching out to customers, clients, and other connections for their input. Then gathering that input together in various formats to “publish”—often on company websites and social media channels. Including user names, company names, and links as part of this process can be a great way to maximize the reach of that content and build a larger audience. It’s an approach we use with our own content and as we work with a wide range of clients.

The Power of User-Generated Content

Some of this content might involve asking your audience for their opinions and advice on an issue, or just to weigh in, with a response to a specific question. “Rounding up” that input and publishing it as a blog or white paper gets them exposure and also gives great value to your audience. But there are other forms of content that can also be drawn from your customer audiences.

Past and existing customers are extraordinary marketing resources for any business. What better way to tout your product or service than to use the “don’t take it from me” approach by turning the microphone over to a satisfied customer with no personal interest in supporting your brand?

Testimonials have been used for centuries to lend credibility to pitches. In other words, user-generated content is nothing new. However, the Internet and social media have increased the demand for user-generated content and have also resulted in some very creative — and effective — use cases. The benefits to marketers are twofold: they gain access to new and potentially innovative ideas from “the masses,” and they gain access to inexpensive content, which is in high demand these days.

When using user-generated content to help augment your content creation efforts, there are some important considerations to keep in mind.

Be selective …

Make sure the users whose content you select are credible and reflect positively on your brand — they should be aligned with and relevant to your own messaging. These users should be representative of your target audience, and they shouldn’t come across as hucksters or pitch people. They need to be genuine and relatable.

… but not too selective

That said, don’t be afraid to include content from users who may not be 100 percent enamored of you or what you have to offer and who may, in fact, have constructive criticism to offer — that can help you to come across as more genuine and believable. Domino’s Pizza used this approach several years ago to great effect. Their award-winning Pizza Turnaround campaign, in which they voluntarily showed clips of dissatisfied customers criticizing their product — and then aggressively advertised its resulting improvements, is a classic example of this. It demonstrates transparency, and a commitment to really listening, and acting upon, customer feedback.

Even the “enemy” can have a voice

Consider inviting input and insights from your competition — it can be a great way to position their perspectives against your own, making it easy for your customers and potential customers to see the differences between you (after all, chances are that many prospects are already doing that kind of background data gathering on their own).

In the information age, individual consumers can communicate with one another as never before. Savvy marketers need to be able to help shape the message they’re sending, and managing user-generated content is a huge part of that effort.

How are you using user-generated content to augment your marketing messaging?


About Us

Strategic Communications, LLC, works with B2B clients to help them achieve their goals through effective content marketing and management with both internal and external audiences. We work with clients to plan, create and publish high-quality, unique content. Whether on- or offline, or both, we’ll help you achieve desired results.

(Strategic Communications is certified as a Woman-Owned Business Enterprise through the Wisconsin Department of Administration.)

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Recommended Reading:

21st Century Secrets to Effective PR

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The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Strategic Planning

The Everything Guide to Customer Engagement

Best Practices in Influencer Marketing

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