For marketers, there is no hope for social media without superb content, and there is no better medium for distributing content than on social media.

We're stuck with this "arranged marriage," which is why it's time to do some relationship counseling.

Currently, the dynamic is too one-sided: Content marketers make stuff, the social marketers have to distribute it, and the audience is supposed to consume and share it with other people. The audience has minimal influence on the content, and social marketers seem aloof.

The dynamic creates a lecture, not a conversation.  

If you want a healthy, loving, and fruitful relationship between social media and content marketing, you have to make the conversation two-sided by adding user-generated content (UGC) to the mix. The people who believe in your brand (i.e., your customers) will get to define what you are to the wider world. Your new task is to collect UGC from social media, deliver it to the content marketers, and then re-distribute it in a curated, awesome form.

Instead of waxing on about how wonderful UGC is, let's talk through a proven model for collecting UGC and using it.

Creating a Mission

To collect UGC, you have to put people on a mission where the intrinsic value of participating is just as compelling as the reward. The act of sharing this content is secondary to the journey of creating it.

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image of Jake Athey

Jake Athey is VP of marketing at at digital asset management (DAM) software provider Widen Enterprises, where he has worked with CRM, campaign management, DAM, email, blogging, and social media management platforms.

Twitter: @JakeAthey

LinkedIn: Jake Athey