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Wouldn't it be great if random strangers showed up and created dynamic, relevant content for your website? Without being paid?


Yes, that's a thing. And it's called a branded online community.


Establish a "home base" on your corporate domain where your fans and customers can rely on direct, two-way engagement with you and your team. If that trust relationship is established, the magic happens. It's like a barn-raising, with everyone working together to build a reservoir of value.





Give them a way to share photos, videos, ask questions, answer each others' questions, share their opinions in polls, and get to know each other.


All of that back-and-forth, and all of that meaty information feeds the search engines' hunger for useful, recent content.


And search engines hunger for content because humans hunger for information.


In the recently released book Absolute Value, authors Simonson & Rosen use the term β€œcouch tracking,” accumulating lots of information over time, even before the need for a product is identified.


Marketers need to focus more attention on the couch-trackers, who frequent online communities and discussion forums as they have a certain product or brand β€œon their radar,” because they are likely to make a decision before marketers are even aware of them.


Gini Dietrich also recently wrote on this subject as it relates to brand journalism. Your PR team can leverage your guest bloggers, Q&A topics, and visual content to support their efforts. 


If you want to leverage user-generated content, bring together your online (and offline) community in a space you control.


Raise a barn together.



Image via Flickr CC, Rebecca Siegel.


I'd love to hear your thoughts here in the comments, or connect with me on Twitter.

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