Leveraging User-Generated Content to Boost Your Brand

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.

In this article for Forbes, Al Cadena discusses effective uses of user-generated content. As Cadena points out, the market is already talking about your brand, so you’d be wise to help guide, if not control, the message. “In a world where anyone can say anything about your brand with a push of a button,” he says, “you can only benefit by making consumers your advocates.”

Cadena’s article has some useful advice and data on user-generated content, and below are a few tips of our own:

Be selective …

Make sure the users whose content you select are credible and reflect positively on your brand — they should, in fact, 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, patsies or snake oil salesmen. They need to be genuine and relatable.

… but not too selective

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’s award-winning Pizza Turnaround campaign, in which Domino’s voluntarily showed clips of dissatisfied customers criticizing its product and then aggressively advertised its resulting improvements, is a good example of this.

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?

Recommended Reading:

The Everything Guide to Customer Engagement

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