This sponsored post is produced by Livefyre.

User generated content (UGC) might be the biggest untapped resource in marketing history. It’s more trusted by consumers than any other type of brand content, it takes zero internal resources to create, and it’s “always-on” by nature. Plus, consumers create over two billion pieces of it every day. The only problem? None of it is accessible by traditional content management systems.

That’s because most brands use a CMS to manage long-term, professionally created content — like rights-approved photos, branded videos and blog posts — and stick with a social media management system (SMMS) to manage social content — like Twitter replies, Instagram posts and Facebook uploads. Until recently, that wasn’t a problem; the vast majority of UGC was being created and distributed on social networks, so it made perfect sense for brands to depend solely on their SMMS to manage it. But not anymore.

With organic social reach in a continuous downward spiral, marketers will allocate more spend on their owned properties — websites, microsites and communities. In order to attract and retain visitors to their websites, leading brands are investing in technology to build entirely new kinds of content experiences for their fans. From photo and video submissions to onsite reviews and interactive contests, these highly-immersive experiences are pushing marketers to think differently about user generated content.

UGC is no longer just another term for social content. In addition to third-party social content like Tweets from happy customers and the Instagram photos that fill campaign microsites, brands now have unprecedented access to their own UGC. Owned UGC is made up of onsite reviews, photo and video uploads, comments, and any other original content that fans create directly on a brand’s site. And unlike third-party UGC, brands have complete control over the lifespan, tone, and distribution of any content created on their own properties.

The top three challenges facing content marketers today are producing engaging content, producing enough content, and producing content within a limited budget. User generated content is poised to solve all three, but only if marketers start thinking about it as a full-fledged marketing asset. This means integrating UGC throughout the customer journey, across properties and devices — and in a way that adds real value for the consumer.

User reviews on product pages help prospective buyers make better purchasing decisions. Comments and chats allow exploratory visitors to ask questions and engage with a brand. And an incredible user-submitted photo in a well-placed ad can catch the attention of a potential customer. Your customers are already creating a supply of content relevant to or about your brand every day. Isn’t it about time you tap that well?

Jordan Kretchmer is Founder and CEO of Livefyre.

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