Google’s search algorithm is ever changing as is the growth of social media. This has meant that content creators have had to be very creative to produce quality content. Any marketer looking to use the internet as an effective communications and marketing channel needs to understand that content plays a pivotal role.
One of the biggest challenges to creating great content is that it is time-consuming as well as expensive. This is especially the case if all content creation is done in-house. Outsourcing might help reduce the backlog however, most marketers rarely do it despite the cost savings due to quality assurance issues.
Thankfully, it is now possible to have your content generated by users. This is ideal for a number of reasons; because it is created by your followers, the content will be original as well as relevant to your niche so you will only need to focus on how to promote the generated content.
All this makes it possible for you to rapidly scale authentic content that benefits both your readers as well as your brand.
Why focus on content contests?
In order to get the best results, you need to answer a critical question for your users, that is, “What’s in it for me?”. Whenever you set up a contest with the hope of getting users to create content for you need to explicitly state the rewards, that is, will the users receive free service, cash, recognition, or merchandise.
You need to encourage readers to help you create content that will help deliver value to your visitors while strengthening your brand. The good news is that this technique works.
For example, if your contest requires readers to submit content, chances are that a majority of the entrants will promote the content on their own private social media channels. This is especially the case if the contest requires the winner to have the most number of votes.
When the entrants share their content on social media channels where they have a presence, for instance, Twitter, Pinterest, or Facebook, they are personally endorsing your brand to their personal connections and that can be quite powerful.
User-generated content is also highly preferred by Google. Think about it, when searching for a business, users receive results that are replete with reviews that have been created by your previous customers.
If there is one thing that we have learned from frequent Google algorithm updates is that the search engine giant looks favorably at fresh content. Fresh content is exactly what you get when you have entrants generating content for you.
When creating content, especially written content marketers have to do plenty of research to come up with keywords that potential customers are using. With user-generated content, this is not a concern because readers will use words that they use to search for information. This is perfect for helping you rank for elusive keywords especially long tail keywords that might not have been discovered in the keyword research phase.
There are a number of ways to conduct online contests but few of them beat content creation contests. Content creation contests are fun and engaging, not to mention that they help build long-term relationships with your customers and your audience as well as strengthening your brand.
What You Need To Know Before Creating a User-Generated Content Contest
The following tips will help you create an effective contest when looking to get user-generated content.
Determine Contest Goals
Your contest might have more than one goal, however, I recommend, that you use something that is measurable. This will make it easy to determine which contest worked and which one did not.
Some of the metrics that can be used to determine whether a contest was successful include:
- Email addresses acquired
- Facebook likes
- Number of essay submissions
- Number of photo submissions
- Number of video submissions
- Number of visitors
- Number of Links
- Number of unique visitors to your site
- Time spent on site
- Sales made
In most cases though, entrants are more interested in getting a reward and not necessarily making a purchase so tracking the number of sales made might not be the best metric to use.
For this reason, when setting up a contest, you should always maintain a focus on the long game. You need to look at your contests as a way to build relationships with users who are likely to become your customers down the road.
If your goal is to deliver evergreen value to your readers and use content to leverage social and search platforms, then you should seriously consider running a user generated content contest.
You will be able to grow your digital footprint as well as building your fan base.
Outlining Contest Parameters
Once you have defined the goal of your contest, you will need to define the rules of submission, that is, let entrants know that if they want to participate, they will need to do two things; generate original content as well as promote it.
You also need to notify potential entrants that they need to relate their content to your business.
You will also need to determine the format of the content to be submitted. It can be one of the three below or a combination of two:
Keep in mind that video and images might get preferential treatment from Google, as Google is more focused now on offering results that have multimedia.
You can promote your multimedia content sites such as Vimeo, YouTube, Pinterest etc.
Ensure that entrants are well informed on information that they will need to submit when entering the contest. Some of the information you will need to collect includes:
You might be tempted to ask for plenty of information, however, you will get best results if you choose to ask for minimum information.
Contests do not run in perpetuity. They will require a start and end date which should be well communicated to all entrants to encourage maximum participation.
Do not forget to frequently mention and broadcast the prizes that winners will get as this serves as the primary motivation for participation. You will need to put in a lot of thought in determining what prizes participants will win. An effective way of going about this is by coming up with a reward that involves your product or service. This way, you will end up promoting your product or service.
The prize can include a free subscription to a service you offer or it might include a timed supply of a product that you provide.
Optimizing User Generated Content for Search
Don’t forget that the main reason why you are holding the contest is to enhance your digital footprint. To this end, you need to ensure that your content is search engine friendly.
One of the ways of optimizing user-generated content is by ensuring that it is hosted on your main site instead of a third-party site.
As with any content produce, you will need to add keywords that you want the content to rank for in addition to the ones already used by the entrants.
If you would like to know more about running user-generated content contests, get in touch with us.