As the volume of content being pushed out by brands continues to increase, it is more important than ever for that content to make a connection. And while original content created by the brand can be a great way to connect, it’s not always the best way to sway opinion.

The fact is, people trust other people more than they trust brands. Even random strangers posting comments and reviews online are trusted about 70% of the time – vs. brand marketing which is trusted only about 30% of the time. We call this the content marketing trust gap.

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Nielsen, Global Trust in Advertising and Brand Messages

So how can marketers connect with trust?

What this means is that content marketing should be about a lot more than just original content coming from the brand. Curated content from people outside the brand should play a big role in every content marketing strategy.

Consider this comparison. Papa Johns wants to be associated with bringing people and families together. Retweeting @abeyta1988 talking about Papa Johns bringing his family to the table is way more powerful than any original tweet they could post. The trust level is so much higher to hear a real person’s experience than to hear Papa Johns talking about themselves.

social-marketing-papa-johns

The best part about this is that user comments and opinions are readily available and, unlike original content, don’t have to be created from scratch. A simple search for any mainstream company or product name on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other social channels turns up tons of mentions. Most brands are already monitoring this chatter using social analytics tools. The next step is to re-purpose the best user comments for content marketing.

The easiest way to do this – and the thing many brands are already doing – is to engage with these customers via social channels. Retweet great brand mentions and thank the author. Reply or re-post content from brand fans. Read down through the Papa Johns Tweet thread above and you can see that they are definitely already doing this part well.

Taking user-generated content marketing mainstream

Social interactions are great, but brands have a bigger mouthpiece than just social channels. Web properties, advertising, email campaigns, and other marketing efforts can all benefit from a more user-generated approach to content marketing. Some of the limited man-hours available to marketing departments should be re-focused on curating the limitless supply of customer content instead of just creating new content from the brand.

Given how powerful user-generated content is at earning trust, it should be the centerpiece of brand communication. If you are doing social well, you’re already engaging with customers and responding to their issues. You’re already monitoring what people are saying online. The next step is to put user content to work as an integral part of your content marketing program.