In this guest post from John Hallam of Vidrack, a web-based video recorder for crowd-sourcing content, we explore the benefits and challenges of leveraging user-generated content for business.

In the best case scenario, user-generated content can take the headache out of creating great videos for your brand or products. Your fans and followers will happily do that for you, inspiring others to do the same.

The worst case scenario, however, is fairly dire. The videos might range from critical, to profane or highly inappropriate – hardly a boon for your company.

In this guide, we’ll look at different ways you can successfully leverage user-generated content for your business.

What Is User-Generated Content?

User-generated content refers to any articles, photos, videos, or social media posts created by individuals. Usually, it specifically refers to content produced by fans or followers of a particular brand or company that mentions their products or services.

For the purposes of this article, we are specifically looking at user-generated video content. Typically, it falls into one of these buckets:

  • Product Reviews – an individual discusses a recent purchase or experience at length, and might even compare it to the competition. This category includes “unboxing” videos, where people show off their haul from a shopping expedition or online order.
  • Experiential – rather than reviewing a product or service directly, someone shows off what it can do. The brand is not the focus of the video. For instance, GoPro gets tons of free marketing from cool videos produced by owners of its product because of what their product enables them to do.
  • Rants – generally speaking, you’d like to avoid this type of user-generated content. An angry consumer explains why they hate a product or brand, or identifies a key design flaw and shows how to exploit it.

Why Is It Good For Business?

No matter what type of user-generated video your company is the focus of, you can benefit from it. It all comes down to how you respond to it, and how you leverage it for your business.

Ideally, most of your user-generated content will be positive in nature. If so, you can easily share it on your company’s social media channels, publish it on product pages, or include it in other marketing materials.

If you find you are receiving rants from consumers, proactively engaging with them can go a long way towards remedying the situation. Address their concerns, offer solutions, and remain positive. Your brand will come across as helpful and accessible, even if the rant was negative.

Leveraging It For Marketing

User-generated content can be a very cheap and effective online marketing tool. Just ask GoPro, or brands benefitting from the “unboxing” craze.

Google, and other search engines, are always on the lookout for high quality content, and video is no exception. The more engaging, relevant content you have, the more Google will reward you with organic traffic and higher search rankings.

Most customers trust fellow customers long before they trust a company. If prospective buyers hear directly from other happy customers about your products or services, they’ll be much more likely to buy.

So, get your loyal customers to talk about your product or services. Have them talk about their experience with your company, how they made the purchase decision, or what they love about your product or service. This should resonate naturally with your target audience.

How Can I Gather User-Generated Content?

Gathering video content from your users is relatively easy. You simply install a video capture tool on your website, like the video record button from Vidrack. Then your users can submit video directly to you for your review. All you need to do is curate and share the best content on your site or via social media.

As an alternative, monitor your social media channels for any posts mentioning your brand. Follow up, and see if that person might be willing to make a video, if they didn’t already.

If you have a particularly active audience, you can do this as a simple request. If you’re really going for gold, you can create a campaign with incentives for your users. A discount, swag, a contest, or a free gift are excellent ways to increase the number of people who submit videos to you.

Video contests are a very effective way to get a lot of people engaging with your company. The best part is, you often spend less on the prizes then if you were to give each person 5% off. A great way to make it easy for people to submit content is to pick a seasonal or trendy theme, so it will fit in with activities they might be doing anyway. For more on running a successful video content, check out this blog post.

The most brilliant part about all of this is that your audience will have some fun (and maybe take home some prizes) while generating content for you to use, and re-use, for future campaigns, research publications, testimonials, and more. A true win-win situation.

Have you tried a UGC campaign yet? Have questions on getting started? Let us know in the comments below!