The trend for organizations worldwide is to let customers do the talking, and it works! Customer reviews are trusted 12 times more than a marketing piece from an organization. So they’re bidding farewell to the days of static brochure-ware websites. From Coca-Cola to the American Institute of Architects, organizations realize that a community of educated and passionate members is an incredible source of trusted, user-generated content and opinions.

The last 10 years have seen an explosion of online outlets for anyone to share their opinions, positive or negative. Organizations can’t filter or ignore the voices, nor should they. Instead, every organization should be planning how they want to galvanize these audiences and bring them together to share and interact. 

Listen to Social Channels and Communities

It’s simple: crowdsourcing your content helps customers find you, and in turn become your biggest fans. Organizations are missing out on potential valuable data and opportunities if they’re not actively listening for mentions of their brand—and even competitors’ brands—on social channels and communities. It’s these online community platforms that can help achieve a balance of engagement while still taking advantage of marketing automation systems, all with honest content.

So harness your activity taking place online—whether in the form of positive tweets about your brand or negative tweets about a competitor, blog posts and comments about your latest products or services, or shares/likes on Facebook and other social platforms. Now add that to an existing customer’s record or use it to generate new leads.

Being able to capture all this data about individuals and tie it to their records, then tag that activity for action in the form of customer service or reaching out to a potential sales prospect, is what crowdsourcing is all about and why it’s valuable.

How You Can Use Customers’ Content

As an example, we at Higher Logic love Microsoft Dynamics’ Communities and their story. They decided to combine their corporate and community sites into a single source of information and engagement for their members. Streamlining everything from live events, membership renewals and member-specific discussions, they focused on experience rather than the traditional marketing fluff. 

Microsoft Dynamics took advantage of their vocal and active users groups to move away from separate channels—knowledge bases, blogs, documentation, etc.— and implemented a hub, in their case an online community, for customers, prospects and partners to share ideas. They cut the clutter and streamlined their entire online presence.

Customers are on to the outbound marketing tactics, and they see it as a daily rouse. So marketers should move on, as well. If we put customer and marketing content on the same plane (or in Microsoft Dynamics’ case, the same online community), then the long-term benefits will follow. Opinions, discussions, blogs and more become popular collateral, the best SEO content, and what ultimately will improve the organization’s inbound marketing strategy.

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