We all know how essential producing great content is for digital success. But blending brand generated with user generated content (UGC) can be even more powerful.
If you weren’t tired of hearing that “content is king” in 2014, chances are you’re pretty new to digital marketing. After another shift in Google’s algorithm, online marketing finally shook itself free of the somewhat spammy reputation of its early years. It began to care about creating quality digital experiences which their demographics would truly engage with.
At the heart of this shift: carefully created and curated brand generated content, typically published on site.
Today’s Status Quo
Today 88% of B2B marketers and 76% of B2C marketers are making active use of content marketing. Their goal? To build their brand online and to generate stronger digital performance.Brand generated content serves a plethora of functions and takes many different forms. Those range from providing ammunition for clickbait and encouraging readers to really engage with brands, to helping to drive visitors further along their “buying journey”.
From Vines and infographics, to thinkpieces, applications and whitepapers, there is a medium for every brand.
The rise of UGC
Yet producing truly top notch, strategic content can be a long (and costly) process. While producing content “on the fly” is less expensive, it’s also typically less effective. The very best content marketing involves extensive research, creative processes, quality production, strategic publishing and expert measurement. Not all brands have the fire-power to invest these sorts of resources… Enter: user generated content (UGC).
UGC has been on the scene for a while. But in early 2016 digital marketers really began to sit up and pay attention to the medium. Compared to high quality brand generated content, UGC is very cheap to solicit. A simple hashtag campaign or competition can be enough to generate a huge amount of content. Your audience will likely care about it and trust as it has been created by their peers.
The truth lies in numbers
In fact, trust in brand generated content is declining. Users are increasingly aware of (and wise to) digital marketing techniques. This means that the positive impact of many content marketing campaigns is dropping off. By comparison, trust in UGC is having a visibly positive effect on digital marketing campaigns. After all, most people are more likely to trust the opinions of their peers than the claims of a company. This is backed up by the stats. A recent study found that featuring social content increases click-throughs on a call to action by 22 per cent.
Returning to the website
We could only find user generated content almost exclusively on social media in the past. Social platforms are the natural habitat of UGC. They’re providing an easy place to gain attention for a campaign and enable users to respond with their own content.
But relegating UGC strictly to social media has one key flaw: it’s incredibly ephemeral. The barrage of Vines your latest Twitter campaign spawned last week will be all but invisible and forgotten by the end of the month. This is one reason why brands are increasingly bringing UGC to their website. Some are even blending it with their own branded content.
Users too are heading back to “the website” to get to know the brands they interact with via social media. Research from the Jun Group demonstrates that the brand website is now the final destination for campaigns. Not Facebook or YouTube. Another study revealed that users are four times more likely to visit a brands’s website than their Facebook page. Even after discovering the product or brand through a social network. The website as a “hub” for discovery is today a crucial concept.
Creating the perfect blend
Harnessing the power of UGC is now about giving it a permanent home alongside brand generated content on site.
• Did you know…
…businesses saw a 28% rise in brand engagement when users were exposed to both UGC and brand generated content?
So how can brands combine the authority and brand-building aspects of brand generated content with the trustworthiness and engagement-boosting powers of UGC on their websites? It sounds like a somewhat complex undertaking, but thanks to the development of smart social media aggregation tools, the process is now impressively easy.
These social media aggregators give brands the ability to collect, curate and display UGC gathered through multiple social channels via a social wall live on their website – right alongside their carefully positioned, brand owned content.
By allocating a portion of their content marketing resources to running campaigns designed to elicit UGC, brands can consequently create comprehensive strategies which make room for a powerful mix of quality brand generated content and increasingly valuable UGC, blending them together seamlessly and simply on site with smart aggregation.