9 Plugins to Encourage User-Generated Content Submissions on Your WordPress Site
There are a number of reasons why companies use content marketing to power their lead generation efforts.
- While a business’s services or products are what a customer ultimately needs from them, a high-quality content offering increases the value of that company’s solution.
- Content marketing helps businesses establish themselves as thought leaders and stay top-of-mind with their audience.
- In a recent Demand Gen Report, 47% of survey respondents said they read three to five pieces of content prior to reaching out to a company to take next steps.
- Content gives businesses something worth sharing across other marketing distribution channels (like email and social media).
Web content that merges images with text can perform up to 650% better than plain text pages in terms of engagement.
- A Google/Ipsos poll found that nearly half of all online consumers watch product or service videos before making a purchase in-person.
While these facts are just the start when it comes to content marketing’s prowess, there are still some who struggle to create content for their WordPress site. For instance, did you know that 51% of executives claim that a lack of time keeps them from creating content? While that may be true (because, really, there are never enough hours to get everything done), it’s no excuse.
Here’s why I say that:
Because you’re not alone. Even if you’re not in a position to hire content marketers, strategists, or writers to help, I’m willing to bet your customers are more than willing to step forward and lend a hand. Think about the prevalence of selfies and up-to-the-minute tweets about that delicious croissant so-and-so got at the new bakery in town. They’re already talking about your business and sharing photos as they engage with it, so why not put that to use to bolster your content marketing efforts?
Currently, only about 22% of companies use any user-generated content on their websites. However, as I’ll soon demonstrate, the commentary and visual contributions your users share online can be just as powerful for marketing your business as are the thought-provoking articles and long-form content you create yourself.
Why You Should Encourage User-Generated Content
Part of the reason you’re looking for user-generated content is to save yourself time in your own content creation efforts, so why not actively encourage customers to submit their content directly to your website? One of the best ways to do this is to make the process intuitive and user-friendly. In WordPress, this means enabling front-end content submissions.
Here are just some of the things you could do with front-end content submissions enabled:
- Accept user-generated articles or blog posts.
- Show off customers’ photos and videos.
- Encourage customers to leave reviews of your products or services. With 71% of customers feeling more comfortable about buying a product after reading reviews, you really shouldn’t skip this one (so long as it makes sense for your business model).
- Add a business directory or classifieds listings that users can contribute to.
- Run a forum or message board and encourage community comments, discussions, photos, and other content.
- Host a wiki and ask users to help you update and add to it.
In addition to taking the pressure off of yourself to create enormous amounts of content and burn yourself out in the process, user-generated content (UGC) can help because of its relevancy. It ensures that content on your site is relevant to your visitors; 58% of people believe that in order for content to be effective, it needs to be relevant to the audience’s specific pains or needs. And, let’s face it, who else is going to understand your audience better than your audience?
Plugins to Let Users Submit Content from the Front-End
Whether your WordPress site already hosts user-generated content or you want to start doing so now, there are a number of free and premium WordPress plugins that can help. In the following list of the nine best front-end UGC WordPress plugins, I’ve included ones that solely focus on keeping your users out of the backend of WordPress and within a user-friendly frontend interface.
Want to give users an experience that’s as close to working in the WordPress visual editor as possible? Then check out this post submission form plugin. It comes chock-full of customizations, so you can give users as much flexibility or restrictions as you want while enabling them to easily create and submit content to your site.
- Responsive form design
- Flexibility in post submission type (anonymous vs. guest vs. logged-in user; post vs. page vs. event; etc.)
- Unlimited customizable fields
- Image and rich media integration enabled
- Tooltip guides for users
- Set post-form submission redirects
- Set character limits
- Form templates
Although most form submission plugins specifically aim to help users submit blog content to websites, this one is a little different. CRED’s form-making capabilities instead focus on those cases where you’d want to allow users to submit content for product listings, directories, memberships, or classified sites.
- Customizable fields
- Built specifically for gated content submissions
- Input validation checker
- Spam protection
- Content expiration rules
- Payment integration
- User or member role assignments
- Members control their own profiles
- Email notification system for admins
While BuddyForms may seem like overkill for a site that just needs basic contact form integration, it’s absolutely perfect for creating front-end content submissions in WordPress. There are three different pricing tiers available, all of which are super affordable. If you’re looking to make the most out of your front-end submissions, however, I’d suggest you start with the Go Pro option.
- Easy-to-follow Form Wizard guide
- Advanced form elements
- Post type customization
- Inclusion of metadata fields for users
- Front-end revision control
- User role management
- Post moderation and revision control
- Admin email notifications
- Form templates
- Integrates with e-commerce
For some websites, it just makes sense that you’d want to create an on-site community where all members can connect and submit their comments, thoughts, and content to message boards, wikis, and more. This super powerful plugin makes it easy not only for you to build those communities but for your users to get involved on the front-end.
- Build discussion boards, wikis, communities, and more
- Users can create their own communities
- Users can edit or submit wikis
- Message board moderation tools
- Easy community management
This is the first of the few free front-end UGC plugins to make it to this list, and this is a good one to start with if you’re not sure how much user-submitted content you’ll receive. With this particular plugin, you can set a number of restrictions that dictate how content needs to be prepared before it makes it through to you for moderation (which can be a huge time-saver).
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- Content moderation
- Shortcode embeds for form placement
- Set restrictions regarding word counts, tags, links, bios, and more
- Set user-specific publication rules
For those of you who want to skip the free WordPress plugin options and go straight for the feature-loaded premium ones, this one here is the premium version of #5. It does everything the free plugin does, and much, much more.
- Responsive form design
- Cross-theme compatibility
- Drag-and-drop builder
- Unlimited form creation
- Allows logged-in and anonymous posting
- Custom advanced field types
- Validation rules and content restrictions (text and media)
- Admin email notifications
- Post-publication management
- PayPal integration
- Copyscape integration
- Media upload integration
- Captcha security
In terms of free UGC WordPress plugins, this one is basic in one it does, but it gets the job done. There isn’t much to it in terms of customization. Simply choose the fields you want users to fill in when they submit content, and then add the shortcode to whichever spot on your website you want to paste the form to.
- Form embedding via shortcode
- Simple set of form fields to select from (including author bio details, content, metadata, and featured images)
- Publication moderation
- User redirect after submission
If you’ve used the User Submitted Posts plugin (#7) in the past and enjoyed it, but felt like there was more that you wanted to be able to do, here is the premium version of it. With this one, you can create front-end forms that enable users to submit content, contribute to forums, register for membership, and more.
- Unlimited form creation for a variety of purposes
- Puts WordPress’s visual editor tool in the hands of users on the front-end
- Enable users to submit images and video
- Create universal settings on the backend for easier individual form setup
- Choose from different form styles or create your own
- Custom post types
- Admin email alerts
While setting up your site to accept customer reviews is great in terms of giving visitors and customers an opportunity to share their insights about your business for the world to see, I’d also argue that customer reviews help you run your business better. The more you know about what’s working and what isn’t, the easier it’ll be for you to address those issues later on. So this type of user-submitted content could really be a win-win for you.
- Collect and publish customer reviews, ratings, and testimonials for your business, services, and products
- Full content moderation and editing capabilities
- Easy to insert on pages or within widgets with shortcodes
- Customizable fields
- Customizable stylesheet
- Anti-spam tools
User-generated content is a fantastic way to up your website’s authenticity and credibility. This is especially important to millennials; 65% of whom view UGC as being more honest than the information they get directly from brands.
Whether or not your website currently struggles with customer misconceptions or it’s simply a matter of conversions not being what you want them to be, think about encouraging more users to contribute their own content to your WordPress site. It may be the boost it needs.