Content users will share

Top 100 Content Marketing Question: How do you create the type of content users will share?

How to create content users will share

  1. Create content that celebrates customers as heroes.
  2. Invite users to create content they want to share.
  3. Offer user-generated content (UGC) along the path to purchase.

1. Create content to celebrate customers

Customer hero
Create content users will share by making your customer the hero.

Frame customer hero stories by using the hero’s journey, the story arc described by Joseph Campbell, to tell your customers’ stories.

Just as mentor Obi-Wan Kenobi gave hero Luke Skywalker a light saber, your company gives customers the powers they need to succeed in their quest.

In the hero’s journey, always cast your customers in the role of hero. Your company or product becomes the hero’s mentor, who enables the hero to succeed by giving him or her the right tools and training.

Bragging doesn't work
Your company or product is not the hero; your customer is. Here’s why.

Your customers will share hero stories virally. To celebrate customer heroes:

  • Invite customers to write stories about their experiences.
  • Celebrate customers in text, audio, and video case histories.
  • Position customers as thought leaders who write guest blogs and articles, do interviews for content, speak at live and virtual events, and interact with peers and customers at events.

If your company publishes an external magazine or newsletter, that’s a great place to feature your customer heroes. Here’s how we celebrated customers at Tellabs – on the cover of Insight magazine.

Tellabs Insight
Tellabs Insight featured customers who became heroes by using our technology in their quest.

2. Invite users to create content

Build on existing customer behaviors to maximize success in user-generated content (UGC). For example, customers:

  • Seek novelty on social media
  • Write ratings and reviews
  • Take selfies
  • Make videos.

How can you encourage customers to create content they’re proud of that promotes your brand?

Make it a joy to share content

Content users will share
Use these 3 ideas to help you create content users will share.

How? Make sure the rewards of UGC exceed the effort required to create it.

Apply Wilbur Schramm’s Fraction of Selection, a formula to determine “which offerings of mass communication will be selected by a given individual.” Here’s the formula:

The expectation of reward/Effort required = Frequency of activity

In other words, to maximize frequency, increase the rewards offered. You can offer frequent buyer points, giveaways, contests, and competitions.

At the same time, reduce effort by making it really easy to share user-curated and user-generated content. Hashtags, easy social sharing buttons, and in-app sharing make sharing even easier.

The more you can maximize rewards and minimize effort, the more frequently users will create and share UGC. Tap into users’ sense of pride so they can show off with UGC.

Your customers are proud of what they do, and especially willing to share content that highlights these topics:

  • What I make
  • Where I go
  • Who I meet.

Stimulate UGC about what people make

Brands such as Lego and Adobe help people celebrate what they make.

For example, the Lego Ideas website runs photo contests. People compete to show the cool things they made with Lego blocks.

Lego George
Lego George is proof that $100 can go a long way in content marketing.

What’s more, Lego invites users to design new Lego kits, which other users can upvote. The user designs that garner the most votes turn into new Lego toys.

Lego celebrates winning user-creators in local events. No wonder users create 20 times more content about Lego than the company’s marketers.

Similarly, Adobe users compete to highlight their new creations with the hashtag #AdobePerspective. For graphic designers and illustrators, that’s a great opportunity to show off their skills and build up a cool portfolio:

#AdobePerspective invites illustrators to show their UGC on Instagram, such as this art by Evgenij Soloviev.

Stimulate UGC about where people go

Many selfies show where people went for a weekend or on vacation. How can you add even more drama to people’s selfies?

The Space Needle in Seattle invites people to an array of digital experiences:

  • Download a Space Needle app.
  • Take a selfie that makes you as tall as the Space Needle – 42 stories tall.
  • Fly above Seattle with 360-degree virtual reality.
  • Take the “ultimate selfie” with cameras that show you perched above Seattle.

My favorite user-generated content is the #NZdronie. Tourism New Zealand got 34 million people involved in this user-generated content by taking selfies to new heights with drone aircraft.

Here’s the video:

Stimulate UGC about who people meet

Photos of someone meeting a famous person are almost clichés. Unless you are in the photo!

Some companies cleverly tap into the human need to show who we were with. You don’t even need to take a photo with a real person – instead, it can be with a cutout or be a Photoshopped photo.

George & Elvis
Elvis and me in Arles, France. To create content users share, and offer selfie opportunities with historical or fictional people.

For example, Berkshire Hathaway invites shareholders at their annual meeting to take a picture with Warren Buffet. It’s not the real Warren, it’s a cutout. Here’s a story on that.

Similarly, at an anniversary event to mark the company’s founding, Tellabs enabled employees to take pictures of themselves at the founder’s kitchen table. That photo projected people into the moment when founder Mike Birck and his co-founders started up the company decades ago.

At a trade show, Tellabs invited customers to pose for a portrait photo. We printed out these customer portraits on a mo cover of our customer magazine.

Taking another angle on selfies, The Wall Street Journal invites people to pose for its unique stipple portraits.

These illustrations make it look like you’ve appeared in the Journal. A lifetime treasure!

3. Offer user-generated content along the path to purchase

Why go through all the trouble of inviting users to create their own content? Here’s why.

A Salesforce study showed that:

  • Website visitors spend 90% more time on a site that includes user-generated content (UGC).
  • Emails with UGC are clicked on 73% more.
  • Social media engagement rises 50% with UGC.
  • Ads with UGC are clicked 5 times more.
  • The payoff: sharing UGC along the purchase path increases conversions by 10%.

A 10% lift in conversions can pay for a user-generated content program all by itself.

To create content users will share:

  1. Create content that celebrates customers as heroes.
  2. Invite users to create content they want to share.
  3. Offer user-generated content (UGC) along the path to purchase.
Here are answers to marketers’ Top 100 Questions about content marketing.

“How do you create the type of content users will share?” is one of marketers’ Top 100 questions about #contentmarketing. Here are the answers to those content marketing questions.