How to integrate customer-generated content into your blog

First of all: Anytime you can incorporate your customers/users/readers in your blog, do it.

After all, this is the audience you are trying to engage with your blog. It’s why you even have a blog. And what’s more engaging for individuals than actually having their ideas, thoughts or questions directly addressed in the blog content?

Many companies have created blogs (or areas of their blog) based entirely on customer-generated content. A few examples: My Starbucks Idea, where Starbucks customers can share their ideas to make Starbucks better. Playstation also does something similar with their Playstation.blog site. On the Flickr blog, they profile photos from actual Flickr users. These blogs are fantastic. They really get people involved and create a sense of brand community. Best of all, these blogs are all about the customer.

That being said, most businesses – especially those just beginning to build an online presence – don’t have the established online audiences of big, well-known entities like Starbucks or Playstation. These are audiences you need to build over time. Organizations build them by providing valuable content to customers, generating links to your content, and reaching out to as many people as possible to get them to ingest (and enjoy) your content.

Once you build up your online audience (and you will with enough time, effort and quality content), a customer-generated blog is a great way to take audience interaction to the next level. The more individuals engage with your business and your customer community online, the more they will be tied to and invested in your brand. And that’s how you create a marketing monster.