Indeed, user-generated content marketing is a big buzz in the whole inbound marketing world right now – especially in B2C. However, there are many B2B marketing professionals out there who are still trying to figure out how to make UGC work for them. This blog post will walk you through everything you need to know.
What Is User-Generated Content Marketing?
We answered this very question in a blog post a few weeks ago by the same name. And so, for the detailed answer, please take a moment to go and check out that post – ‘What Is User-generated Content Marketing?’
But here’s the short definition – and you can probably guess pretty much what it is from the name in any case. User-generated content marketing is the process of utilising content that normal web users (i.e. anyone who doesn’t work for the company in question) have created for the company’s own inbound marketing purposes.
To give you a quick example, many of us in the B2B marketing world rely on Adobe products to provide us with the sterling design tools that make our jobs so much easier (and our designs so much better). On Instagram, instead of running, say, short video ads about new Photoshop features or what have you, Adobe instead uses its account to showcase the images and designs its customers have been making and having fun with.
(Image source: instagram.com/adobe/)
Here’s a recent example from just a few days ago (at time of writing). As you can see from Adobe’s comment, this image was made by CGI studio Illusion – no doubt one of Adobe’s most valued business customers. (Incidentally, the image, though it’s not specified exactly what it will be used for, could be a great example emotional marketing, which we spoke about last week in our post ‘3 Inspiring Examples of Emotional Inbound Marketing’).
Adobe’s whole Instagram account is brimming with wonderful examples of art, design, and photography – and nearly all of it is user-generated content. You can see that the post after just being up for four days had already generated nearly 11,000 likes and a ton of comments. And the account itself is followed by 366k other Instagram users. This is B2B user-generated content marketing at its very best.
Are There Different Kinds of User-generated Content?
Yes. Yes, there are.
In fact, the variations of UGC are endless. But here’s a short list of the most popular kinds that B2B marketing departments often like to target.
- User-generated images
- User-generated videos
- User-generated blog posts
- User-generated Facebook and other social media posts
- Social media comments
Essentially, user-generated content marketing is all about exploiting the unbridled connection that Web 2.0 fosters. In fact, the Content Marketing Institute offers a playful alternative for what UGC stands for – “Undeniable, Glorious Connection”.
Any piece of content that is generated by today’s internet users is made to be shared on social media, where quite literally billions of people are connected. And when these users feel compelled to generate and share content that mentions our brand in some way, they are giving our company an unsolicited stamp of approval – and that does wonders for building trust amongst other consumers.
How to Target B2B Customers with User-Generated Content Marketing
User-generated content marketing has of course long been the reserve of the B2C realm. What with Coca-Cola’s “Share a Coke” campaign, Lego’s Lego Ideas, and Oreo’s Play With Oreo – all hugely successful in their own right – it’s easy for B2B marketing teams to feel left out.
The reason that UGC marketing works so well in B2C is because it’s a practice that’s all about people. However, the B2B world is starting to look that way, too. In fact, some commentators are saying that there’s no such thing as B2C or B2B – it’s all P2P (person to person) these days.
(Image source: sproutcontent.com)
And it is of course true. Even businesspeople are human beings, and, as human beings, we like personalisation and the feeling that the companies we deal with are human, too.
And of course they are. We might say that businesses buy from other businesses, but the reality is it’s people buying from people – just like in B2C.
So, how can B2B marketers start utilising user-generated content? Let’s consider a few options.
Collect Influencer Quotes
Here’s a very simple idea to get you started. Reach out to your clients or prospects and ask them if they’d like to contribute a quote that you can use throughout your content.
This will be mutually beneficial for both your company and the company that provides the quote: your company will benefit from being able to promote real-life use cases of its products or services; the quote-providing company will benefit from additional exposure (and will have their ego nicely massaged if you ask them specifically for an “influencer quote”); and you both will benefit from a strengthened business relationship.
Everyone’s a winner.
Survey Your Customers
One of the very best ways to start incorporating your existing clients – and your prospects, too – into your content marketing output is to survey them.
Your survey should be related to your industry. If you’re in the inbound marketing world, for instance, then you could ask them things like:
- What role do you see user-generated content playing in B2B marketing in the year ahead?
- What are your most pressing inbound marketing concerns for 2017?
- Do you think chatbots will ever replace sales departments?
Things like that.
With your survey answers collected, analysed and converted into statistics, you will now have the ingredients for a research report or shiny new eBook – free to download in exchange for an email address and business name. That’s a user-generated content marketing/lead generation tactic for you right there.
Like the Adobe example above, if you can find a way that allows your business customers to showcase how they are using your products on popular social media platforms, then you will be onto a real winner.
It may not be immediately obvious how exactly you might make such a campaign work for you. But if you keep in mind that social networks are all about communities – even for B2B professionals – then you should be able to find some freedom to get creative.
Take Buffer, for example. On the surface, it’s of course a marketing automation platform like many others that are out there.
But, like Adobe, Buffer has turned to Instagram to collate images from its “Buffer Community” to show how other professionals work, play and live.
Here’s a recent one from the company pulled from #BufferCommunity member @reycanlasjr. It doesn’t have much to do scheduling a month’s worth of tweets (i.e. what Buffer is used for) – but what Buffer is so cleverly doing is creating a sense of community amongst its B2B (or rather P2P) customers. We’re just people after all with a life outside work – so let’s celebrate that.
(Image source: instagram.com/buffer/)
Here’s another one showing a workstation, pulled from the hashtag #BufferSpaces – showing everyone how other Buffer users work. Notice, too, from the description that Buffer had recently collaborated with Product Hunt – no doubt a Buffer customer, and another great example of Undeniable, Glorious Connection bring user-generated content marketing to life.
(Image source: instagram.com/buffer/)
Back to You
User-generated content marketing may have started life in the B2C realm, but today, there’s no reason why B2B marketing departments shouldn’t get a piece of the pie as well. All you need to do is start thinking a little creatively, and remember that user-generated content marketing is all about Undeniable, Glorious Connectivity, and you’ll soon have a new and powerful weapon to add to your B2B marketing arsenal.