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Using User-Generated Content

You’ve created it. Your friends have created, and you’ve seen it all over social media whether you know it or not. We’re talking User-Generated Content (UGC). User-generated content is an affordable and inexpensive means of building credibility for your business. It’s about showing your customers that you care about their needs and it helps foster a human connection. UGC can prove very beneficial for your business. Why? Because your offerings are being praised by your audience’s peers. It can take the form of a nice comment on Facebook, a curated photo of one of your meals posted to Instagram or a rave review on Yelp. Think of it as word of mouth but digital.

Now that we know what UGC is and how beneficial it can be, the next step is to determine the type of UGC you want and strategize towards it for the best results. Here are some tips to help you devise a UGC plan for your business:

Engage Your Audience:

In order to engage your audience, have them interact with your brand and provide you with UGC, you need to put a focus on engaging content. A simple way to do this is by asking questions in your social media posts. For example, if you’re a restaurant, you can ask what everyone’s favorite dish is. You can also encourage people to leave reviews on Google, Yelp or Facebook. If you want to amp things up a notch, you can partner with micro-influencers or you can host giveaways where an entry requirement is to leave a review, comment about what they love about your business, etc.

Selecting the Best UGC:

Not all UGC is created equal. When selecting which content to share or repost, first look at things like grammar, quality of any visuals and overall shareability. Then, once you’ve compiled some options, strategize on how to get the most mileage out of these posts. To put this in context, pretend you’re the owner of a clothing store and you have a pair of jeans that are about to go on sale. Say you also have a great review of these jeans. Instead of just randomly selecting content, use the review of the jeans to also highlight that they’ll be going on sale.

Post Branded Hashtags:

Hashtags are a secret weapon for optimizing user-generated content. Consumers can easily look up content through branded hashtags. Try to keep your hashtags short, simple and unique to your business. Look at your competitors’ hashtags and think strategically about phrases and words that best describe your offerings. 

Sponsored and paid advertisements on social and digital have become redundant, and consumers may have a tendency to scroll past them. The right UGC strategy can be just what your business needs to create a connection that’s meaningful, engaging and profitable. 

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How to Craft Long-Form Written Content

Blogs are a major player in helping elevate your brand to thought leader status. They engage your audience and offer up an easy way to get across expert information. After reading your posts, your audience should leave knowing how to do something new or with valuable knowledge they can apply to their life, business etc. Here’s how to get started.

The Topic
The entire idea behind thought leadership is that you are publishing content that places your brand as an expert, so that’s a great place to start when brainstorming content ideas. You want to be very intentional with what type of information you’re providing your readers. For example, one subject has many different angles. You could write a How-To Guide on making cupcakes, but you could also write a piece on Top Cupcake Trends. Both posts are placing you as an expert on cupcakes, but take very different approaches. The key here is whether you’re offering a How-To Guide, the Do’s and Don’ts or even Three to Five Things You Should Know about a certain subject post, you need to provide insider information that you (someone who is an expert in the industry) would know and your audience wouldn’t.

The Structure
Due to the flexible nature of blogs, there isn’t a hard and fast rule on the best way to structure them, although you should also be aiming to make your blogs as digestible as possible. You should also ensure that each of your blogs have an introduction and conclusion.

See your introduction as an appetizer. You want to get your audience hungry, you want to hook them in. Introductions should be brief but also inform your readers in an interesting way what the next course is going to be. Your conclusion should wrap up the ideas you introduced in the blog. View this section as your dessert. Your readers are mostly likely pretty full on information, but they’re looking for a little something sweet to end the meal. Now we get to the entree, whatever happens in between the intro and conclusion is up to you. You can structure your blogs with bulleted lists, paragraphs and even graphs and charts, the only thing to keep in mind is that you don’t over serve. Make sure your main ideas are clear, easy to read and don’t present an overwhelming amount of information.

Making a Content Series
One great way to increase your thought leadership credibility is by implementing a content series. A content series is basically just a series of blogs. For example, you would have a mother blog on a certain topic, such as thought leadership. Then you would have 2-3 subtopics of that main topic outlined in that mother blog – like long-form written content, visual content and media. Having deja vu? That’s right, you’re currently in a content series. The beauty of a content series is that you have the ability to take a deeper dive into a specific subject in a cohesive way.

By integrating a robust, knowledgeable blog presence on your website, you’ll not only reinforce your authority to website visitors, but you’ll also increase searchability and have the functionality to share across digital channels such as social media and newsletters.