I want Content and I don’t want to generate it, what should I do? Can I have a legion of followers? What does it take to get people to generate that Internet buzz for me?
Let’s be clear on one thing, not all businesses will benefit from such an exercise. If you run a service, chances are people are not going to generate content on your behalf so the first thing to know about this elusive and sometimes confusing art of creating user generated content (UGC) is that it is more pertinent to retail type operations.
For SEO, user generated content is crucial for you to climb the ranks. Pictures, location addresses, GPS information, reviews, blogs all work in tandem to push your page rank up. As long as something related to you is featured under a different domain, it will count towards your popularity.
Whoring up to UGC?
Technically, UGC is a loose term that applies to any content that are generated by strangers or fans for you. It could be a fan page, or a posting of themselves spending time at a business establishment. Customers will post pictures of your products to Facebook, Instagram, G+, Twitter, Flickr, Foursquares, Pinterest, etc and this will in turn allow you to be found by total strangers who may just be looking for something of that ilk. This means you gotta be interesting, or having interesting products.
What Businesses can benefit from UGC?
Food businesses, product retail and any sort of produce whoring will qualify for UGC. Retail business that offer unique products, food and beverage, events like a customary strip show.
They key here is that your retail business needs to have content to generate web traffic on a large scale by allowing potential buyers to interact with the sold products. Yes, it is a bit like letting strangers get intimate with your personal belongings.
How to Pimp Your Business
A large number of businesses are not UCG friendly or do not pay enough attention to it for content creation. Too lazy? Too busy? Don’t worry. There are a number of rules for UGC and here is a list.
1. Allow Photography on your Property
Yes, you heard me. Photos speak volumes and if you don’t allow people to snap photos, what good is UGC going to be when people do not get to see what you have. Checking into Foursquares of Google Places is one piece of the jigsaw puzzle. No pictures rules just plain suxs. Unless your main clientele is made up of blind people who have no apparent appreciation for your decor, you’re going to be left out in the cold.
Many businesses do not like any sort of photography to be done without their consent but this is a mistake. They have this overbearing fear that what they rivals will seize upon this opportunity to copy and destroy what you created. Such fears will only dampen your belief in UGC. Getting more business is all about generating commercial traffic and not about protecting image rights. Your first goal is ensure people generate content to encourage commercial traffic as your survival depends on it.
Those in the Food and beverage industry such as cafes, themed restaurants and even food truck businesses will benefit immensely from user generated content. Once UGC goes viral, you can be assured that people will come to experience it for themselves on what they have seen or read about on social media.
2. Create a new Customers Experience
Your property should be decorated or designed to please the eyes. Colors and the right interior design will help you to win new clients when they see the UGC generated on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. Any business can create a pleasing or colorful atmosphere with the right lighting and color choices. Got a giant statue of Venus or a life size Action figure? That’s the first thing customers zoom into. Make sure you get the right lighting as that matters too.
3. Set-up a Free to Use WIFI Hotspot
One of the most overlooked of UGC is the provision for free wifi for users to surf. Why? Because mobile data is expensive! Foreign visitors, day trippers from across the border and low bandwidth data subscribers will not post stuff onto Faeebook or Instragram unless there was a way of doing it for free.
There are ways to protect your business wifi hotspot with the right software. You can read some of it here, but I am not going into detail on how to set up a wifi hotspot for your business as not all wifi routers are made the same way. Setting one up can be both a complicated or easy affair depending on the router manufacturer who gives a damn about making it user friendly.
Day trippers, holiday makers, tourist and foreign visitors who do not speak your language would like to express themselves with pictures and not all of them will have easy access to data connections. By providing the means for them to connect to their social sites, you are giving them a chance to write about you and this is what UGC is all about.
4. Create Location Check-ins for all Social Media
Location sharing is all about putting your business on the map and this can be done via Foursquares, Google Places, Facebook or any service that offers up a point of interest (POI) for mapping. By creating the check-in location yourself, you are making it easy for customers to use that GPS location to share with their friends. You’d be surprise how many businesses are not listed on Facebook or Google Places to make it easier for people to find you and share your location.
Don’t let users create any ambiguous location check-in. This is detrimental to your business especially when the GPS data is wrong. It could be a block away from your actual location but it’s not their fault for doing this but you should be on hand to prevent this by creating the location check-in yourself.
5. Engage your Customers with Events
Every event that your customers take part in will generate content. Often business owners think that it takes too much time to organize one but you forget that people need to be excited and to stoke that excitement you need to engage them with simple and meaningful events.
For example, if you happen to be in the F&B business, you can always organize an event for wine tasting, food tasting or even a food presentation lesson. Product distributors are always on a look out for means to host a roadshow and what you need to know is to find a way to connect your business through them at your property. What you need to do is to ante up on the organization skills provide the part-time labor to run the event and you’re done.
By tapping on the social honey pots who love generating followers for your social media profile, you get to promote your business through social media networks without doing any lifting.
UCG with Bloggers
Bloggers are the unsung heroes of UGC. They generate ad target traffic by providing content and search engines know that. So if you happen to have a whole army of bloggers who update regularly and writes about you, then you’re going to be a star on the search engine rankings.
In the old days, it was magazines and news reporters who gave their spiel and helped to promote you to the public at large. Today, the powers of social media hold sway.
Bloggers need content so it is a two way street. By cultivating them, you are helping yourself. Don’t just rely on one blogger. You need a whole team of them and the best way to evaluate them is to find out what domain and blogging platform they work on. Some work for free, others work for beer money. Once you have several different postings from bloggers, it will boost your chances of being found not only by customers, but it will also boost your search engine ranking.