By Blair Williams, founder of MemberPress

User-generated content is everywhere: It’s in our social media posts, our blogs and the reviews we leave.

For businesses, user-generated content can shape their marketing strategies. You can use it to drive more traffic to your site, create more engagement on social media and boost conversions. 

People create user-generated content in different ways. For example:

  • Reviews and ratings: You’ve seen them on e-commerce websites and probably find them very helpful when you're thinking about buying a product. Reviews and ratings for movies, restaurants and products are familiar types of user-generated content.
  • Social media content: People often post pictures of products and their experiences on social media. There are plenty of pictures, images and written content for businesses to leverage. 
  • Forum discussions: Forums and community sites host in-depth talks and answer questions -- Quora and Reddit are examples on which most of the material is original user-generated content. 
  • Blogs: People use blogs to write about products, businesses and other topics in detail. Blogs by individuals appear authentic because the writer often has no relation to any business. These writers create helpful, informative and authentic content. 

These are mostly free and engaging content sources that businesses can use to power their marketing communication. 

How does user-generated content boost conversions?

User-generated content drives conversions with the voices of customers. It convinces people to buy or subscribe by showcasing the following:

  • Social proof: User-generated content creates social proof. Your audience sees that other people are buying from you. This makes them more comfortable buying your product as well.
  • Evidence of product value: When customers write about your product, it gives users extra information about how it works. It creates evidence that your product is what you say it is and helps users understand its value.
  • Trust and credibility: You can build trust by leveraging user-generated content. When customers share positive experiences about your business, it shows that you have a credible company. 

How can you leverage user-generated content? 

There are many ways to make use of user-generated content to boost conversions on your site. You can showcase what people are saying about your product and how it benefits them.

Add reviews and ratings to your site.

Display ratings and reviews by customers on your product pages. It creates confidence that people are buying your product and that it delivers on its promise. Users often leave extra information about the product in the reviews, which helps people decide on purchasing. 

Ask customers to answer questions.

Create options that allow your audience to ask product-related questions. Notify your past customers, and ask them to help by answering on your product page. 

Allow customers to add images to reviews.

Encourage your customers to post pictures of your products in their reviews and on social media. These images add proof of your product's authenticity. They create a real understanding of what a product will be like when used. 

Showcase your audience’s social media posts.

Celebrate your customers by sharing their images and posts of your product. You can use them as images in advertisements, and you can highlight them on social media or your site. These pictures will showcase real people using and benefitting from your products.

Drive a hashtag campaign.

Take a leaf from Starbucks’ book and start a hashtag campaign asking users to share images with your product. Starbucks’ popular White Cup Contest creates significant buzz by asking users to post pictures of doodles on their coffee cups.

Create your own contest, and ask users to submit content and share a brand hashtag. You'll create excitement by celebrating your users' contributions in a contest setting.

Build an online community.

You can get conversations started by creating a membership site for your audience to discuss your brand, product or domain. Building a brand community creates user-generated content that promotes itself. Users will share their experiences, ask questions and provide answers.

Leverage user-generated content and get rewarded.

It’s smart to use free content that’s already out there. You can link potential customers to existing ones using user-generated content. You can also spark user-generated content for your business. Ask questions and create polls on social media.

When you get involved and communicate with your customers, they'll help push your business' growth.

Blair Williams is the founder of MemberPress, an all-in-one membership website software for WordPress.