Practical ways to create meaningful content for your brand and recognize participants within your social community.
One of the most compelling online marketing scenarios for the intersection of content, search, and social media is user-generated content (UGC). Companies often initiate social media programs to stimulate dialogue with customers and develop relationships. At the same time, useful content serves to fuel much of brand participation on social networks and media-sharing sites.
While effective for companies without a staff of writers, the continuous creation of new content presents resource challenges. Concurrently, social media programs can run a bit dry if the brand isn't engaging with the community on a regular basis. A content marketing solution for both situations can be found through crowdsourcing and user-generated content.
Crowdsourcing is the practice of presenting the community with a problem along with a plea to assist in its solution. For example, Netflix offered a prize of $1,000,000 for the best collaborative filtering algorithm to predict user ratings of films. There were 184 teams competing to beat Netflix's own algorithm for predicting ratings of movies that customers would like by 10 percent.
In the case of crowdsourcing and user-generated content, the approach is similar, except the "problem" is the creation of content around a particular topic, and there's no million-dollar prize.
User-generated content is often associated with ratings, reviews, forums, media sharing, social profiles within a niche community, and similar opportunities for consumers to publish and share. As brands participate in social communities - asking and answering questions, engaging customers, and sharing content - numerous opportunities arise to involve the community with content creation.
Crowdsourcing helps a brand create new, meaningful content and provides an opportunity for relevant recognition of participants within the brand's social community.
This tactic offers several advantages:
Of course, there are a few cons, too:
The good news is that most of the cons can be mitigated with good communications, oversight, and process.
From a practical application standpoint, here are a few examples of crowdsourcing and repurposing content:
Make sure that participants are aware of what you're doing. Being upfront about your intentions will help them do a better job with their contributions and may even incentivize them to help promote the final outcome.
One can overrely on a community for content creation, so don't overdo it. Also, as a tool for recognition, participant involvement must be relevant and focused on a quality outcome versus quantity. Genuine recognition inspires better work and motivates participants to share future crowdsourced content more enthusiastically.
As you look at the social networks, communities, prospects, and customers that make up your brand's ecosystem, think about where you would start with crowdsourcing. You may find not only that the effort helps your brand create content, but also that the exercise of involving your community results in added social engagement and search optimization assets.
Lee will be sharing tips about content marketing optimization at SES San Francisco, which takes place Aug. 15-19, 2011.
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Lee Odden is the CEO of TopRank Online Marketing, a digital marketing agency specializing in helping companies grow online business and community with an "Optimize and Socialize" approach to content marketing. Odden has consulted for hundreds of B2B clients over the past 14 years including: McKesson, Marketo, PRWeb, and StrongMail. He's been cited by The Economist, BtoB Magazine, and Advertising Age for his online marketing expertise and publishes one of the most popular marketing blogs on the web: Online Marketing Blog, ranked the No. 1 content marketing blog three times by Junta42. Odden speaks on the intersection of search and content marketing, PR, and social media at conferences internationally and is the author of "Optimize: How to Attract and Engage More Customers by Integrating SEO, Social Media and Content Marketing."
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