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How User-Generated Content Helps
Build Your Online Business

Add Relevant Content to Your Site - Hands-free!
 
Paul Smithson - 1st December 2008
   
paul smithson Generating content for your web site can be time consuming if you do it all yourself or costly if you outsource the work to others. The hottest trend in content creation could be the solution and solve both the time issue and the cost issue at one fell swoop. This new trend is to have your visitors create the content for you.  It’s easy, it’s free, and depending on the subject of your site you might even find that your visitors and thrilled to do it.

There are many ways to have your users create content for you. 

Perhaps the oldest and most widespread method of getting users to generate content for you is to provide a forum, also known as a messageboard.  Discussion forums have been popular for many years. Before the Internet took off in the mid 1990s there were specialist forums on services such as Compuserve. You could use a dial-up connection to log directly into bulletin board services, commonly known back then as a BBS, and get involved in discussion covering everything from business through to music.

If run properly a forum can become incredibly sticky with visitors returning again and again, often several times a day, to read the latest post and add their own messages to the current discussion threads.

Ever since the first primates started to gather together in caves people have had an inner need to be accepted and to feel like part of a group, which is why forums work so incredibly well. Forums meet this need incredibly well, which is why they often attract a loyal user base that are willing and eager to churn out page after page of content for you day in and day out. Best of all, if the forum is moderated correctly, the content of the posts will almost always be on-topic, and will be the kind of natural writing and genuine content that search engines love.

Another great way to have users generate content for you is solicit product reviews. People love to talk about their experiences with certain products. There motivations for doing so will very. Sometimes it will because they are particularly passionate about a certain product, or conversely that they dislike a product for one reason or another. The reason for this polarization of motivation is because people who hold middle-of-the-road views about something don’t tend to spend time letting people know that they really don’t care one way or another.

If you want to get people to post reviews for you aim to attract people with passionate views. These are the people who will post new content and not just read the reviews that other people have already posted.

How you encourage people to submit reviews will depend on the topic of your site and how much traffic you currently generate. If you have a site that receives thousands of visits a day from people who are raving enthusiasts about your topic you are likely to find gathering reviews is an easy process, but if this isn’t the case you may need to offer incentives of one kind or another.

Epinions, a very popular product review site, started by paying people to write the reviews. There site has proved very popular so don’t feel ashamed if you need to go down the incentivized submission route. Often it can be the ideal way to provide the necessary impetus to get this kind of content generation under way.

You don’t have to pay for every single review.  You could offer a monthly prize, where each review is another entry into the contest.  Or you could offer other incentives such as free advertising on your site.  You could even take a different route and build a site where people will specifically go to post negative experiences.  Since people love to talk about their bad experiences, you could build your site to target the complainers specifically.  Register a domain like garbagetelevisions.com and go for it!

User-generated content is also valuable in other ways.  It can help establish your authority in your niche.  The simple act of owning an extremely popular forum in your niche is often enough on it’s own to establish you as an authority figure. 

People tend to have extreme respect for the owners and moderators of the forums they really love.  Just being the forum owner will gain you enormous respect and admiration.

This is just the tip of the iceberg as far as user generated content is concerned. Whether it’s a review of a product, a post on a messageboard, or comment about a blog post or article - it’s all additional content that you can benefit directly from and yet it’s all being generated for you, with very little effort on your part.

Get creative and before you know it you could be having pages of content generated for you twenty-four hours a day .

About Paul Smithson - Paul Smithson is the founder of Intellimon and the driving force behind the best-selling XSitePro web site development tool. Since graduating in Business Strategy and Direct Marketing from two of Europe’s leading business schools, Paul has set up five multi-million dollar companies, one of which is now owned by the BBC. His areas of expertise include business strategy, e-commerce, on-line and off-line marketing, software development, and maximizing the potential of on-line businesses.


For more information about this, and many other Internet Marketing-related topics, visit Paul Smithson's site, www.xsitepro.com.

Source: http://www.xsitepro.com/how-user-generated-content-helps-build-your-online-business.html


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