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User-Generated Content: An Association’s Best Resource

Think about incorporating user-generated content into your association’s strategy and see how it can work for you.

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Ever been stuck in a content rut? Let’s be honest, we all have. You’re sitting at your desk, trying to come up with new, innovative content ideas to bring to your members, and you just can’t seem to come up with anything. A pit grows in your stomach - what if your last content piece was your final idea?

Well, sit tight, because what I'm about to tell you could change the way your association goes about content production: Have you ever thought about coming to your members for new content? Yes, the answer to your writer’s block could be right under your association’s nose (if it had one). User-generated content is here to save the day for any content team looking for a change of pace. We know how the power of word-of-mouth/referral marketing is ramping up the content game for associations. According to B2C, 82% of consumers actively seek out referrals from other consumers/peers before making their purchase.

User-generated content is a unique spin on referral marketing that also provides your association with fresh content for its marketing strategy. Need another reason to consider it? It’s also a great way to engage and build a relationship with your members. Working with members to create content gives you the time and communication it takes to retain a long-lasting membership.

Enough talk about why user-generated content is so great. It’s time to dive into the process: How to encourage members to contribute content, what to do with their content, and how to set up a future for even more content. Here’s how your association can take advantage of user-generated content.

User-generated content: What is it?

We’ve been putting a lot of praise on user-generated content, but we haven’t really gone into detail on what it is. User-generated content is any form of content that can be provided by your association’s members. That’s right- any form of content. Think about the type of content your association already produces- blog posts, videos, newsletter articles, etc. What if you could save time and gain engagement by allocating some of that content opportunity over to yours members? You can reach out and work with members on a new blog series. Or, you can even let them create a video for you at an annual event or a meeting.

User-generated content can also occur naturally. Anytime a member engages with your content by sharing it or commenting on a social platform, they are recommending your association’s to others (whether they know it or not).Like we said before, user-generated content does wonders for your association’s branding. According to this infographic by Sprout Social, 75% of consumers are highly likely to share a positive experience with a brand. That means that three quarters of your membership could be open to the idea of sharing user content with their network. If your association is looking to break into a new audience, but isn’t exactly sure how to reach them, user-generated content could be your ticket in.

Let’s take a look at some ways to start generating user content for your association. We’ll also highlight some associations that are already well versed in the user content world. Keep reading for user-generated content strategies that actually work.

A cost-effective content option.

Looking to save money for your association, but have exhausted all resources? Look towards user-generated content for help. Oftentimes, creating a new piece of content can involve a budget or costs of some sort. A new video for your association’s website can cost quite the pretty penny, and it’s something that you might not want to allocate your budget to. However, sometimes a large sum of user-generated content can cost less than just one piece of your association’s own content. And you don’t have to settle either- both quantity and quality are included in the right user content. On top of that, user-generated content can bring in new traffic to your association and its website.

Most times, associations turn to paid advertising in order to reach a new audience. It can take up a lot of your marketing budget and sometimes leave you feeling underwhelmed. However, with user-generated content, your members will share content they’ve created to an entirely new network. This can save your association the funds of advertising while also producing similar, if not better traffic results.

Looking to raise money for a fundraiser or charity event? Turn to your members for user-generated content. This way, you can save on the costs of creating marketing materials while also bringing in a wider audience. Who knows, this type of strategy could help your association see donation amounts it’s never had before. Consider reaching out to members to cut down on costs. Now, which members should you reach out to?

The power of influential members.

While every member should be given the option to create content, there’s an important sub-section of members that could help boost your traffic. We’ve talked about the power of influencer marketing in the past. It’s a powerful way to get brand recognition for your association. According to recent studies done by Twitter’s research team, 49% of Twitter users rely on influencer recommendations on Twitter when choosing brands they trust. On top of that, about 40% of Twitter users claim to have made a purchase based off of an influencer’s tweet.

So, where do you find influencers? They could be hiding within your association’s membership. Research your members and seek out those who have a powerful following on any sort of social media platform. This means a lot of followers, preferably within your target audience, that actively engage with that member’s social posts. Once you’ve pinpointed a good selection of members with influencer power, reach out to them with a friendly message. This can be done through email, however you might have better luck on social media. Think about it this way- you’d be meeting them on their own playing field.

Let them know how impressed you are with their own personal content, and that you’d love to partner with them on something great. Explain how this will benefit them by providing a professional platform for their content. Once your influencer decides to work with your association, you’re one step close to a wider reach on your user-generated content.

Make sure to get rights.

Looking to use your members’ content? Not so fast. You need to make sure you have the right to use your member’s content before you share it on your association’s site. Sharing content without getting consent can lead to an angry member, and maybe even a poor review of your association. Think about it this way- you wouldn’t want someone stealing your work for their gain. For your members, it can feel like a betrayal to see their content on your page without proper consent. If you find something on your member’s social pages that you’d like to include on your website, reach out to them and ask. It’s not a hard task, and most times members will be happy to have their work shared.

However, if members say no, don’t leave them with a sore response. Responding negatively can turn them off to the idea of staying with your association in the future. A great way to combat this is to invite all members to submit content to your association’s email. You can create a content submission page on your website and invite members to check it out through an email announcement. Or, even better, include it in your next newsletter. Take a look at how the Canadian Society of Association Executives (CSAE) invites members and non-members alike to contribute content to their blog on their Content Contribution page.

Your association can create something similar to invite member content and avoid the risk of missing user consent to content use. User-generated content is the answer to the frustration of running out of content ideas. While your association regroups to come back at your members with new content, it can reach out to members to assist as well. Think about incorporating user-generated content into your association’s strategy and see how it can work for you.