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How to Expand Your Brand with "Other People's Content"

Many business experts agree one of the best ways to grow a business is with "OPM" (Other people's money). The idea is to reduce your risk and multiply the impact of your capital with loans from banks or resources from investors. The influx of capital helps accelerate the growth of a business. In a way, this same strategy can apply to your online marketing. To accelerate the expansion of your brand you need "OPC" (Other people's content). In marketing circles the technical term is user generated content (UGC).

Now I am not suggesting you go out and scrape content from other websites and share it as your own. That type of plagiarism won't win you any friends in the long run. No, I am talking about encouraging people to share their experiences with your brand, or simply their expertise in words and pictures. This process of encouraging, collecting and sharing  user generated content can take many forms. Let's take a look at some of the more common ones.

The Review

One of the most common forms of UGC is the review.  Are you looking for a restaurant when you are traveling, a plumber to fix a leaky faucet or the best refrigerator to buy?  If you are like most consumers, you probably have checked out a few reviews in your purchase process. This reliance on online resources is not limited to consumers in the millennial generation. The research shows consumers of all ages are checking out what their peers have to say. According to one study by Cone Inc, 85% of consumers are more likely to open their wallets when online recommendations support offline advice.

The key to a good review program is to remember to ask you customers to complete the review. Be sure to respond to questions or concerns which surface in the review process.

Source Material

Have a question?  Looking for ideas and inspiration? Go to your community. One of the most interesting examples of this is Jimmy Fallon, who routinely tosses out questions on twitter and then reads some of the best responses during his show. Who needs writers when you have an engaged audience who will write material for you?

jimmy fallon

The key to using your community to create source material is two fold.  

  • You must have an engaged community before  you ask them to create content.
  • Remember to say thank you. Acknowledge the contributions and people will be more likely to respond the next time you ask.


From simple photo contests on Instagram to complex essay or recipe submissions, even simple prizes can motivate customers to share how they use your product. This example from Dove asked women to share why they thought their friend had real beauty.  

The contest was a natural on Facebook as women shared stories about each other. The winning entries were featured in an advertising campaign. The contest was a double win for Dove. The campaign went viral giving the brand wide exposure on Facebook and it reduced the cost of the campaign development since no professional models were required.

Tip: If you want to increase involvement, make the contest simple and relevant to the target audience. 

The Bottom Line

User generated content is effective because it gets people involved with your brand.  When they participate, they are more likely to have a vested interest in the outcome. When they share their experiences in their own words, it gives your marketing a level of authenticity which will resonate with other prospective customers.

Here's your chance to create some user generated content of your own.  Share a comment or link below. And if you want to see more examples of USG in action, check out my presentation from Mixwest 2014 .


Join The Conversation

  • jennifer@freshfigsmarketing.com's picture
    Sep 3 Posted 2 years ago jennifer@freshf...

    if you have happy customers they tend to want to participate in your brand. Reviews, contest participation, even a testimonial blog post are not out of the realm of possibility when your clients want to support you. That personal invovlment is the most powerful marketing you can get! Great post Lorraine, as usual. Thank you!

  • LorraineBall's picture
    Aug 30 Posted 2 years ago LorraineBall

    Andy you are absolutely correct.  If you don't have a good foundation, you will have a hard time building the community to egin with.   But once you have a lot of your own information, it is great to open up to input fromothers.  

  • LorraineBall's picture
    Aug 27 Posted 2 years ago LorraineBall

    You nailed it with the qualifier of "third party legit".  There is something so powerful, when the endorsement is really in the words of a customer. They will say things in a way, you can't fake.  

  • 4ndyman's picture
    Aug 26 Posted 2 years ago 4ndyman

    Regularly securing OPC for your website can truly help build both your brand and your audience, but you also lose some control of message and certainly quality there. Lorraine offers great information,  but it should perhaps be plainly stated that OPC is only a supplement to your own (presumably high quality) content. Tryihg to build a brand solely on OPCis a fool's errand. You have to start with something that's worth reviewing, responding to, or otherwise commenting on.

  • Sjuett360's picture
    Aug 26 Posted 2 years ago Sjuett360

    Thanks so much for making this available. Bi am circulating this among my associates and citing it as a "must read."

    So great to have access to something with immediate value-add.

  • tspalding@csia.org's picture
    Aug 26 Posted 2 years ago tspalding@csia.org

    I believe in this approach. Third-party stakeholders, especially legit ones who want to be advocates of your message or organization, are a tremendous and under-utilized asset.

  • Randy Clark's picture
    Aug 26 Posted 2 years ago Randy Clark

    Great post. I don't take advantage of reviews as much as I should. Thanks for the prod and reminder. 

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