The What and Why of User-Generated Content (UGC)

June 23, 2014

User-generated content (UGC) is not new, but many BtoB publishers see few contributions by readers to comments and other interactive areas.  If that's the case, how much attention should you be giving it?  First, let’s talk about what it is, in the context of your business:

User-generated content is generally anything on the Internet that readers are involved in making. Typically, this content is based on interaction around an article, blog post or product. No one is paid to create UGC, but plenty of businesses use it to build brand awareness and loyalty, enhance lead generation data and increase sales. Along with social sharing, UGC has becomes a key driver for customer acquisition and retention. But it’s not limited to that. Numerous businesses also use it for customer service, hiring and recruiting.

Generally speaking, it’s another great way to help individualize your visitors' experience.

UGC can take the form of:

  • Status updates
  • Blog posts
  • Reviews
  • Q and A
  • Comments
  • Video
  • Podcasts
  • Forums
  • Poll Responses
  • Photos

Who Uses UGC?

UGC is most prevalent on BtoC business sites, but done right, BtoB sites can use it to boost site traffic and content marketing. In fact, more than 30% (and climbing) of BtoB marketers worldwide feature user-generated content prominently and benefit from it.

And, when you look at recent statistics regarding how consumers use UGC, it’s sort of no-brainer to give it some attention. Just look at data on millennials:  they trust UGC 50% more than other media, when it comes to making purchases.  In this case, we’re talking about reviews and comments.

How Should BtoB Publishers Use UGC?

The simple way to start is by doing a little social listening.  You can really see how people are interacting around your brand by tracking their social activity in relation to your site. Organic reviews are a great tool for this as well. But if you really want to boost engagement on UGC, you need to make it targeted and follow a few simple rules.

  1. Start by looking at all your user data (in addition to social listening). See what products and topics are getting the most traffic and engagement.
  2. Come up with a focused activity that involves your audience. Use a theme or a specific reason for interaction. Maybe it’s a poll. Maybe it’s a contest to spotlight your high value visitors.
  3. Incorporate multimedia. You know this: video and images will increase reader engagement. Encourage readers to post their own images from industry events, trade shows and product showcases.
  4. Provide incentives for engagement. What about a communal blog where readers rate each other’s posts and the highest rated posts get featured with your editorial content?
  5. Monitor engagement. Set clear standards for civil engagement and monitor it, so that users are building a positive community around your brand.
  6. Track it. This is about data again. If you track it, you’ll know where your efforts are successful and reap the most benefits from UGC.
  7. Repurpose and reuse. Just like your blogs and other older content, you can use UGC over and over—resurfacing it to boost and add relevancy to newer engagement opportunities and other content. With taxonomy tagging, you can automatically resurface UGC in context with all content on your site!
  8. Look for UGC across your industry to see how it's used by related publications. Engage, share and be inspired.

Need Inspiration?

You need not look far to find ideas for building UGC around your brand. There are numerous sites that specialize in it. Check them out and think about how you can adapt that type of content to your industry and your community of readers. You need only look as far as the social “usuals”:






And one other:

Amazon reviews

Need a kick start?  Write your own review on a product you recently purchased—after reading 5 about the same product.