02 Jul 2014
by Samantha Dunn

4 Drawbacks of User-Generated Content & How to Not Fall Victim

User Generated ContentIn a highly-social world with millions of competing marketing messages, it’s pretty clear by now that user-generated content (UGC) has become an essential part to reaching customer demographics. UGC can help you reach new customers, engage old ones, develop your brand and increase overall sales, but it also bring it’s own challenges with it. Here are four potential drawbacks of user-generated content and how you can adapt so you don’t run into the same issues.

Uncertain Quality

Involving customers and fans in your marketing efforts through different campaigns can be very rewarding and a lot of fun! But when you have people outside of your company create content for you, you have to be conscious of the quality you get back. Let’s face it. Not all of us are wordsmiths or well-written poets, so you just never know what you’re going to get.

However, there are ways that you can help to ensure what you receive is what you actually were looking for. The most important: be very direct with what you want people to do or say. The more open-ended you leave it, the more variety of content you’ll get back. For example: “Tell us how you’ve used Boast before!” or “How would you rate our product from 1 to 5, 5 being the best?” or “What was your favorite moment of our event?”

Project Instructions

It’s also important to be very clear on what you want them to. Meaning, give them clear directions as to the steps they should take. For example: “Fill out the form below and tell us what you think!” The less the user has to think about or figure it out, the better the quality of content you’ll receive back.

Unknown Sources

Another concern that arises from asking for user-generated content is the credibility of the sources who submit it. Anytime you ask your fans or customers to create and submit something, especially when there’s a change for a reward, you run the risk of getting information from unreliable sources. Questions you might be ask are if this person has actually worked with you or used your product, or are they just saying they have for the face-time or possible prize.

There are ways that you can try to make sure that credible people submit content. You could require them to take a picture or video with your product. Ask them questions that would only pertain to those that have had an actual interaction with your product or service. Or you could only send an invite to those within your database or email list.

Time Consuming

Using Time ManagementInvolving your fans and customers can create opportunities to reach new customers in a unique and powerful way. However, stepping out of the box to incorporate this additional content within a marketing campaign does mean added time and effort on your end.

The trick is to plan ahead. Dedicate and schedule certain days and time within your week to manage submissions, answers questions, fix problems, etc. Time management will be key to keep your to-do list in check and your sanity.

Lack of Participation

I think we’ve all had the fear at one time or another that we’ll spend hours sweating over the details of setting up a campaign, launching it and………nothing. No one participates. It’s one thing to come up with a great idea to utilize your customers and fans, but it’s another to get them to actually engage.

So what’s the trick? Although, there is no 100% fool-proof way to go about it, you can greatly improve the odds by using these simple tricks:

  • Offer an incentive or two – “Win this TV!”
  • Make it really easy – the less steps and forms to fill out, the better.
  • Trade promotion – “If you give us a testimonial, we’d be happy to feature you in our next newsletter.”
  • Make it fun – Tap into the interests and emotions of your audience and leverage those to get them to engage.
  • Target those you already have a connection with – i.e. past customers

User-generated content can easily take your marketing and promotion to the next level, but it takes careful planning, a clear strategy and dedicated time and resources to make it really successful. Check this out to see how big brands have successfully used UGC.

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