User-Generated Content – Help Or Hindrance?

User-Generated Content – Help Or Hindrance?

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The internet has provided a plethora of new and innovative ways to expand your brand’s presence, increase sales, and expand your customer base. One of those ways is with User Generated Content (UGC).

UGC is anything that your customers or users create and share online that is about or concerning your company, service, or product which can take the form of testimonials, videos, images, and a whole host of other things.

One remarkable thing about UGC is that you don’t necessarily have to expend resources to create it. Your customers do it for you which is a beautiful thing. But it is also terrifying.

The Downside of UGC

There is a reason a lot of business owners can tend toward the control freak side of the scale. They know better than most people how quickly things can spiral out of control if they are not guided and directed in the right direction.

User-generated content done wrong can be a disaster for a business. A quick look online will reveal a lot of UGC horror stories that will leave you wondering whether it is worth risking.

Take for instance McDonald’s. Even with billions and billions of customers served, the fast food behemoth has a lot of critics and the term “McDonald’s food” is used as a negative in many circumstances. They tried a UGC campaign that backfired stupendously.

It was a hashtag campaign called “#McDStories.” People were supposed to tell the world about their wonderful experiences at McDonald’s. But instead, the hashtag was used for people to vent their complaints about the restaurant. And it was not pretty.

Beyond UGC fails like this, there are also spammers, hackers, and straight up jerks that will try and hijack your UGC efforts.

Do the Upsides Outweigh the Downsides?

So, with all these problems, is UGC worth the potential risk?

The answer is – definitely!

UGC has some fantastic benefits that make the potential downsides pale in comparison.

  1. UGC can serve as free exposure for your brand (keyword there is “free”).
  2. It can introduce new customers to your brand.
  3. It can create new partnerships and relationships between you and other businesses that you were not aware of previously.
  4. UGC can be far more effective than traditional marketing.
  5. UGC creates a degree of rapport and trust right off the bat that is virtually unmatched by any other marketing strategies.

And… we could go on. But you get the idea. UGC is impressive and worth the risk involved. However, if you’re going to do it, you need to it right.

How to Ensure Awesome UGC

There are several different tactics that you can employ to make sure that your UGC accomplishes your goals for 2019.

First, before you go diving into a UGC campaign, make sure that you are 100% clear on your brand. Make sure that your customers (and non-customers) are also 100% clear on your brand. There should be no vagueness or ambiguity regarding who you are and how you conduct yourselves.

Second, guide UGC through some basic guidelines. If negative UGC is something you are concerned about, dedicate a page on your website to telling people what kind of UGC you are seeking. Make it clear what is acceptable and what is not.

Third, reward good UGC. If people are following your guidelines, make sure you praise them and draw attention to them which can be as simple as a comment or a retweet. Make sure good content gets brought to the forefront.

Fourth, moderate UGC. Whether you do it in-house or hire somebody, moderating UGC is a critical thing to do. Whether it is image moderation on Instagram or moderation of comments on YouTube, keeping an eye on the UGC coming in can help you nip lousy content in the bud.

Fifth, don’t freak out. No matter what you do, you are never going to eliminate the possibility of bad UGC. The best you can hope for is an overwhelming amount of good content to overshadow the bad. When you do get that inappropriate post or offensive comment, the previous steps should ensure that your real customers negate it in a hurry and understand that it is a troll and not something you with your stamp of approval.

Summary

If you are in business and have an online presence, you need to be utilizing UGC. The potential benefits are incredible and can help your business in so many ways.

However, just like most great strategies, there are potential risks involved. Knowing what these risks are will prepare you to avoid and mitigate them as much as possible.

With the tactics listed above, you will be on your way toward tons of excellent UGC that will boost your business and amplify your reach.