How to Use User-Generated Content in WordPress
Updating your website frequently makes for better Search Engine Optimization (SEO). However, content creation can be time consuming. When you’re busy running a business, it can be difficult to come up with enough new content to keep your site fresh.
Luckily, there’s an easy way to solicit new material for your site. If you have an active following, you can enable users to generate content. This is an excellent way to engage your audience and keep your site updated at the same time.
This page will explain what user-generated content is and why it can be useful for WordPress sites. Let’s begin!
What Is User-Generated Content?
User-generated content is any type of content on your site created by its users. This might include reviews, comments, forum posts, social media campaigns, or even entire blog posts. Enabling users to create content can help drive traffic to your site and increase user engagement.
Plus, user-generated content is an easy and cost-effective way to add images, posts, and other materials to your site. This helps first-time visitors and search engine crawlers alike see that your site is active and interesting to users.
How to Add User-Generated Content (5 Methods)
User-generated content can be a vital addition to a site, because it drives brand loyalty and connection while creating organic marketing opportunities. Let’s go over a few ways you can include user-generated content on your own site.
1. Accept Post Submissions from Users
The User Submitted Posts plugin adds a custom form to your site where users can submit posts. The plugin includes a CAPTCHA code to help prevent spam. You can set the posts to automatically go live on your site, or to save them on the back end as drafts for approval:
This plugin is a quick and easy way to enable guest posting. User Submitted Posts also has a pro version with even more features, such as unlimited custom fields. However, the plugin’s free version is a powerhouse by itself.
2. Include a Forum
A forum is an online discussion board where users can share thoughts, questions, and resources. Including a forum on your site gives your users a place to share valuable content among themselves. It can also enable users to ask you and others support questions:
You can use WP Foro to quickly add a forum to your site with a one-click install. Its documentation page has guides on how to customize forums to your specifications. Once configured, forums can be added to any post or page on your site using a shortcode.
3. Manage Your User Roles
WordPress itself comes with built-in functionality to enable user-generated content through ‘user-roles’. You can configure your settings to allow users to register as contributors so they can create and edit their own posts, but not publish them:
You can use your admin account to manually approve users’ posts. This way, you can welcome contributions but stay in control of what is published on your site. If you want more control over your user roles, you can look into plugins such as User Role Editor.
4. Enable Comments
Comments are another built-in feature of WordPress, which provide a rich source of user-generated content. Enabling comments on your blog posts drives interaction and promotes discussion among your readers:
You can also use a plugin, such as wpDiscuz, to add advanced comments settings to your site. This will give you more control over your comments system, such as enabling you to disable comments on a single post or on certain post types.
5. Embed a Social Hashtag
If your business runs a social media campaign, you may want to embed a hashtag on your site. This will enable you to automatically pull the most recent social posts with specific tags onto your site:
10Web Instagram Feed is a plugin for creating Instagram galleries on your WordPress site. It enables the creation of multiple and mixed feeds of posts from various users with specific hashtags.
How to Use User-Generated Content (In 4 Steps)
Now, let’s talk about how you can enable users to easily submit a variety of content to your WordPress site.
Step 1: Identify Your Need
To start, determine what types of content would be most relevant to your users. For example, if you run a recipe website, comments and ratings on each recipe could help users choose which dishes to try, as they do on AllRecipes.
It’s important to note that sometimes, user-generated content can backfire. Once you start asking for ratings and comments, for example, you invite negative feedback. Negative reviews may have helped spur Netflix’s decision to remove user ratings and reviews from its site last year.
That said, as we mentioned earlier in this article, there are many types of user-generated content you can use. If you find the one that best suits your site, you should be able to avoid most of the potential downfalls of user-generated content.
Step 2: Understand Your Audience
It also helps to think about who will want to share content on your site, and what kind of content they might want to create. Generating user personas might help you get into their mindset. You may also need to brainstorm ways to incentivize content creation among your users.
Going back to the user rating example, research shows that people value others’ opinions. A 2012 Nielsen survey found that 70 percent of people trust online reviews. Review sites such as Yelp capitalize on users’ desire to share their thoughts, as well as the demand for reviews on local businesses.
Step 3: Monitor Content
Once you have a vehicle for user-generated content, you need to set up a moderation system. This is key to stopping spam and preventing fake accounts on your site, both of which can reduce trust in your site among your users.
One way to prevent fake accounts is by using a CAPTCHA to ensure that a human creates each account. You may also want to require an email address from users when they submit content, to verify the authenticity of each user.
Step 4: Add the Content to Your Site
Finally, you’re ready to add the content to your site. We’ve already covered several methods for doing this earlier, including using plugins to accept posts from users, adding forums and hashtag feeds to your site, and monitoring user roles and comments.
Before your user-generated content goes live, however, it’s important to make sure you have permission from your users to share it. An official terms and conditions section on your site can help you do that.
Additionally, if you ever want to use specific images or other content for promotional material, it doesn’t hurt to be thorough and reach out to the user who created it for permission. It may also be wise to consult with a lawyer.
Adding User-Generated Content and the Digital Experience
Adding user-generated content makes for an engaging digital experience. You’ll draw users in by offering the chance for them to participate in creating content, keep your site fresh and interesting, and build a sense of community around your brand.
With WP Engine, you can grow your customer base and attract more traffic to your site. Check out our plans to learn more about how to expand your digital experience!