Today is the era of “user generated content.” Wikipedia, a completely user generated encyclopedia, has completely taken over from traditional encyclopedias. YouTube, a user generated video site, has taken its place as one of the world’s most trafficked websites.
In smaller niche markets, people are leaning more and more towards interacting with other people through content they’ve generated, rather than just the “top down” approach of a website owner creating content for users.
How do you get your users to supply your site with content? What are a few easy things you can do today to get the ball rolling?
=> Blog Comments
If you have a blog, having comments is a bit of a no-brainer. Comments create more buzz and generate content, as well as help with SEO.
One simple way to get more comments on your blog is to ask for them. Ask a specific question for readers to respond to, or just ask for their thoughts and feedback.
=> Hold a Contest
Holding a contest will get a lot of people not just willing but excited to create content for you.
The contest should involve them submitting content for some sort of prize. For example, a video contest related to a relevant topic in exchange for a prize. Or, a graphic design content in exchange for a cash prize.
There are many examples of using contests to create content. Treadless.com, for example, is a site where designers submit t-shirt designs. The winners have their shirts printed and the designers are paid. The site is one of the number one t-shirt sites on the net today.
=> Have an Affiliate Program
An affiliate program can go a long way towards generating buzz and content.
A blogger for example, might pick up your program and decide to write a review for your program. They’re creating the content because they’re incentivized by possibly making a commission.
Many affiliate program owners have found that they get a lot of first-time affiliate marketers who only make one or two sales. Financially that may not be the best, but usually that means you’ll get a lot of people creating content for you in an effort to promote your product.
=> Start a Forum
If your user base is large enough, starting a forum can create a lot of unique content for your site. What’s great about a forum is that once it’s going, more and more content will be created without you having to do anything.
When you’re starting, consider starting with a single-thread forum and then work your way up to a multi-thread forum if your user base is smaller. Nothing kills a budding forum faster than a large forum with a scarce user base.
These are just a few examples of ways to encourage user generated content. Use your creativity. The only guidelines are to make it fun and easy for your users to create content for you.