User Generated Content – marketing and image in one
Comments, videos, photos, hashtags… there are many ways to interact with a specific brand and its fans online. Collectively, this phenomenon is called user generated content and is – from a marketing point of view – highly desirable. More in the article below.
What is User Generated Content?
True to its name, user generated content is content created by users.
As we know, the content of a given website is supervised by at least several people. The content manager develops strategies and deals with the appropriate internal structure; new content is provided by content writers and copywriters. However, not only that. Some general content may also be contributed to the site by persons who have not been employed to do so and do not derive any benefit from doing so. We are talking about users, whose role in the process of content development should never be overlooked – it is difficult to imagine the point of existence of forums, chats, social networking sites or video sites… where no one writes or publishes anything.
It is estimated that 57.3% of the entire planet’s population (and there are 7.8 billion of us, according to estimates) has access to the Internet. On average, each of us spends six and a half hours there during the day. We have plenty of opportunities to interact – especially if we have accounts on a large portal with hundreds of thousands of users.
How to use user generated content?
The use of user generated content in marketing is therefore based on encouraging users to voluntarily – and independently – publish content relating to (or referring to) your product or products.
The type of content may be specified or not – and we have a really wide range of options to choose from: photos, graphics, images, reports, tweets, articles, comments, posts… in short, everything that can come from an ordinary user.
Marketing campaigns based on this type of content may start with suggestions to fans. It may be an action encouraging the publication of photos with the product and a specific hashtag. They can also be videos in which users show the operation of a specific product (e.g. a camera or a specific item of clothing). These also include all kinds of consumer opinions and reviews in online stores.
People involved in internet marketing quickly noticed the beneficial consequences of this phenomenon. After all, an important part of their job is to supervise the appropriate reach of advertised products, so it is impossible to miss the opportunity in which these reach will essentially be self-inflicted.
User generated content – advantages
This tactic is used by a number of major brands across a variety of industries. There are, of course, good reasons for this, as it has several fundamental advantages. The effects resulting from its use may be much more difficult to achieve using only conventional marketing techniques. So what are the most important benefits of user generated content?
People – for the most part – are definitely reserved about marketing campaigns, looking for manipulation mechanisms and treating possible data presented with caution (9 out of 10 dentists recommend this toothpaste, have you heard about that before?).
Marketers do not inspire general trust. A “typical” person is different, even if he is not known – 92% of people, according to a survey conducted by ExpertVoice, consider such a source of information to be more reliable than the information provided by the manufacturer. Additionally, 70% say that product reviews in online stores are their second most trusted source.
Look at it from the other side – we have two brands, X and Y. X uses the user generated content technique and publishes a lot of information that is consumer feedback from users. Y doesn’t do that. The question that will arise in your mind will probably be: why doesn’t Y do this? Does it have something to hide? The conclusions are also self-evident – try to predict which product will be chosen by a typical customer.
Creates a community
This type of campaigns can grow quite large – and this creates a kind of community whose distinctive feature will be a preference for our products.
Of course, the scope of the campaign – and therefore the probability of such a phenomenon occurring – is limited by the popularity and specificity of a given product. A popular soda drink has a better chance of becoming an icon than a manufacturer of electric chainsaws.
However, such a community may have more common features than just the use of a given product – it is no accident that most campaigns of this type appeal to emotions (“share the moment spent with friends”, “show your methods of relaxation”, etc.). This is an additional psychological factor that is not here by accident – the more “contact points” fans of your product have, the greater the chance that this community will grow permanently.
It is financially beneficial
Marketing efforts can be expensive, especially if they are intended to have a broad reach. For this reason, user generated content seems to be particularly attractive – after all, you are already using what you have (a ready-made product), and your communication channel will be an infrastructure that has billions of users – the Internet.
Comparing traditional ads, which require payment for a specific time of display and distribution, user generated content is almost free, does not require the creation of any new medium (Facebook or Instagram is most often used) and is organic – which means that its popularity is generated entirely thanks to the content you create. And since content will continue to be created by users themselves, who can encourage others to replicate this behavior, the situation looks really attractive.
This does not mean that the cost of preparing this type of campaign is negligible – it may also result in negative reviews and may require a reward if you organize your campaign in the form of a competition.
User generated content is almost free and does not require the creation of any new medium.
User generated content – what to remember?
Although there are many advantages, there are also a number of nuances that should be taken into account.
Firstly, not every product is equally suitable for being a solid basis for user generated content, an example of which we have already given earlier. An important limitation is the number of users and the degree of their responsiveness to similar campaigns, which includes demographics, communication channel (whether Facebook or another, less popular website) and the specificity of the product itself. So you need to carefully decide on the type of interaction you want to have with your users.
Secondly, there is also a risk of copyright infringement if you wanted to further use human-made content. Legal issues can derail months of planning, so it is important to move only within legal solutions.
- The strategy discussed can bring many benefits if we implement it properly.
- A good idea is a balance between classic marketing and that based on user-generated content. Then you are not limited to one solution and thus benefit from both.
- However, even if you do not plan to implement this type of campaign, you should never close yourself off to interaction with your fans.
- Comments, reviews, opinions – all this is a form of user generated content, and what’s more, it costs nothing and brings additional image benefits.
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