The Power of Reciprocity, and Why You Should Increase the Amount of User-Generated Content You Share.

Guest Post by one of our Partners, ContentBacon.

It’s the chorus, not the aria that closes the sale.

“But enough about me, let’s talk about you. What do you think of me?” Bette Midler delivered that line to Barbara Hershey in Garry Marshall’s 1988 movie, Beaches. If you weren’t too distracted by Hershey’s cosmetically enhanced lips, you appreciated how apropos it was for the moment in the movie – but are you honest enough to apply it to your content marketing?

It’s the elephant in the room. Or, maybe we should say, the bee-stung lips in the room. (Sorry, Ms. Hershey.) You’re missing the boat if your website content is all about you. The people you’re trying to convert into customers don’t really care all that much about you – not at the moment. They’re busy looking for a solution to their problem, and they want to hear about the solution – and maybe it’s yours – from anyone but you. Successful online marketers know this, and it’s why they continue to increase the amount of user-generated content (UGC) on their websites.

eCommerce led the way

user gernerated contentPeople just want to be heard. eCommerce websites figured that out a long time ago. Recommendations and reviews sell more than marketing does. We, as consumers, prefer word-of-mouth to anything else. Nielsen’s Consumer Trust index gives UGC a 92% ranking. Consumers trust organic, user-generated content far more than traditional advertising.

It’s why the Amazons and eBays of the eCommerce world mercilessly bug you – but in a gentle way – to leave a review or a recommendation about your recent purchase. We care what others think. Even if they’re perfect strangers.

We also want our 15 minutes of digital fame. It’s why Sephora encourages consumers to upload selfies of themselves wearing Sephora makeup.

Talk less, repost more

But, wait a minute? How does our brand – or at least the spokesperson for our brand – become established as a thought leader if you turn over the microphone to somebody else?

One word: Reciprocity.

Tim Ferriss may be the undisputed thought leader of hacking everything from cooking to working, but he and Marie Forleo would be happy to sit you down and point out that what they’ve really mastered is not the subject. They have perfected the ability to curate and share information on the subject as perceived by others.

Interaction fosters perspective. It’s the chorus, not the aria that closes the sale. It’s why, according to Kissmetrics, 1 out of 4 search results done on the world’s 20 biggest brands are links to UGC.

Listen and reap

You’d think that by now somebody would have written the eulogy for online surveys. Few people participate, and those who do usually end up telling you only what they think you want to hear. You end up trying to separate the wheat from the chaff, instead of reaping from the veritable feast provided by UGC.

Facilitating and featuring UGC primes a powerful pump. You’re preparing for a steady flow of information from both existing customers and prospects. You can use it to guide the future activities of your brand. Hearing – and sharing – from both of these groups creates an important additional opportunity.

They’re giving you valuable information about how you can personalize future experiences with your brand. Goodbye, one size fits all. According to Marketing Dive, a recent Adlucent survey shows that over 70% of respondents want to see ads that are tailored to their interests.

A dead-end street

Yes, it’s spooky to hand over the content reins to consumers. Face it, you’re probably the only one who cares if the ™ or ® is added to your brand name. Complete control over owned media is a comforting blanket, but consumers look at it as selfish and self-serving. It’s one-way communication, and it leads down a dead-end street.

Earned media, on the other hand, can take you far. There’s no need to question if you’re resonating with consumers when they create their own content with your brand’s name on it. There’s also the fact that it’s free.

There’s something else about cultivating your own online community by curating UGC. It takes a while, but you can build a community of vocal supporters. These brand ambassadors will connect you to their networks – and that’s important. They will also offer support and encouragement to those who are further up the sales funnel, and who are still deciding whether you even understand their problem – let alone have the right solution. They’re selling your product or service for you – for free.

Barbara and her bee-stung lips meet a tragic end before the credits roll in Beaches, but not before Bette learns the what reciprocity is all about. Then she gets to belt out that made-for-karaoke ballad, “Wind Beneath My Wings.”

Now it’s your turn to gain some altitude with UGC. Make it the wind beneath your wings.  


ContentBacon creates the content that drives your inbound marketing strategy. Creative and strategic, we help companies attract and retain a clearly defined audience while driving profitable customer action. We know content is the only sales tool that works 24/7/365 to generate awareness, qualify and convert new leads, and retain the base you already have. The best part is that we are super simple and—dare we say—fun to work with. Just like regular bacon makes everything better, ContentBacon makes your business better.