Marketing and branding strategies often change due to the ever-changing digital world and the ways people prefer to receive content. One hugely popular method, offering new benefits to companies, is incorporating user-generated content into your branding. Rather than creating all content in-house, UGC is a system of using others’ content in your marketing. Companies are finding vast benefits from this system, but there are also downsides to be cautious of. Keep reading to find out what business founders and CEOs say are the pros and cons of UGC.
Pro: Added Element of Trust
These days, where social media dominates, social users look to a new persona with an almost celebrity veneration. Research shows that consumers trust reviews from others about products for purchase to a large degree. This in turn leads to much higher sales lead conversion rates. Many brands opt to work with one or more social influencers who match the target audience and can testify to the veracity of the product to increase trustability.
Dylan Fox, Founder and CEO AssemblyAI
Pro: Acquiring Long-Term Customers Organically
When you can incorporate user-generated content in any form, your branding automatically becomes more organic. Typically, this is also something that consumers and current customers will take notice of, which will make it easier to build feelings of trust and reliability. This can be the basis for acquiring long-term customers who will even refer you to their friends and family.
Marc Atiyeh, CEO PAWP
Pro: Reach a Larger Audience
It’s no lie that user generated content increases social awareness about your company due to the simple rule that the more people talking about and sharing your content, the more people are aware of you. When you incorporate other people’s content into your marketing strategy, those original creators are likely to share your reposting of their content, thus leading all of their followers to your page. And while marketing and advertising strategies can lead to great results, sometimes you can’t beat the success that word-of-mouth brings. Choose your content creators wisely so that their target audience is also yours in order to gain a larger following.
Michael Hennessy, Founder and CEO Diathrive
Con: Necessity of Close Monitoring
It’s great when businesses are able to pass on a large portion of their content creation workload to others, but this does create the necessity for the business to closely monitor the content becoming associated with their brand. The feasibility of slip ups increases exponentially the more content creators are given access to the brand. In order to avoid straying from the marketing mission or voice, set solid guidelines for your UGC and keep an eye on the content posted.
Justin Chan, Growth Manager JuneShine Inc.
Pro: Establish Mutually Beneficial Relationship With Content Creators
The amazing thing about establishing a relationship with content creators is that the relationship benefits both sides equally when done right. Your company gains more followers in your target demographic (if you and the creators have the same audience), lessens the load of content you need to create each week, and establishes a solid relationship with influencers who will promote your brand. On the other side, influencers get featured on company pages, gain more followers, get paid for their hard work, and form concrete working connections. Also, time should be spent talking about how beneficial word-of-mouth reviews are for brands. With users highly likely to purchase a product after hearing a good review from someone they trust, your company should be asking for as many reviews of products as possible.
Tyler Hayden Read, Founder and Senior Editor PT Pioneer
Pro: Incorporating Customer UGC for Free Feedback
Let’s just face it, our customers are the foundation of our companies. So, when they provide us with any type of feedback or content, then it should be treated with importance. Plus, our customers ARE our brand. So, incorporating them in as many ways possible when it comes to branding strategies is almost a common-sense move.
Ryan Rottman, Co-Founder and CEO OSDB Inc.
Con: Inevitability of Negative Content
One con of incorporating user generated content into your marketing strategy is the release of control over all the content representing your brand. While you can search out creators who fit your mission and identity in a strong sense, and you can clarify set guidelines for your content, there is still an increased likelihood of marketing slip ups; some would even say negative content is inevitable when handing over that degree of content freedom to others. Companies will need to weigh how important the benefits of UGC are compared to the eventual moments of negative content. One important step you can take to prepare for mistakes is to establish a crisis control plan of action beforehand rather than in the moment of trouble.
Sarah Pirrie, Brand Director Healist Naturals
Pro: Strengthened Authenticity in Brand Strategy
Incorporating UGC into your branding strategy is a great way to build brand trust. UGC-style content is easily relatable for consumers and strengthens the authenticity of an overarching brand marketing strategy. The most successful UGC content strikes the fine balance between staying authentic to the creator’s style yet upholding a brand’s high-level style guidelines. While UGC is a powerful content tool, remaining true to your brand is equally important.
Dr. Kathrin Hamm, Founder and CEO Bearaby
Pro: Understand What Content Users Enjoy
When you partner with social media influencers to incorporate UGC into your marketing strategy, those people are usually already fairly established with a large follower base of their and your target audience. Therefore, what the influencer is promoting has worked for gaining them followers and interaction with consumers. When you collaborate with content creators, you are gaining valuable feedback about what the content users enjoy seeing and interacting with. Take notes about what steps have been successful, and try to model some of your marketing strategy after this new insight. Then, of course, when you incorporate the influencers’ UGC into your own branding, their followers will slowly become your followers and vice versa. This is a lesson in social listening to find out what type of content is in high demand by your audience.
Lauren Kleinman, Co-Founder The Quality Edit
Con: Working Around the Legal Side
Something that will come up for your company when incorporating user generated content into your marketing is a new set of legal complications to work through. Understanding permissions and ownership rights is essential to avoid any issues with content creators down the road. I have found that setting clear policies and drafting reusable messages regarding asking for content permission and clarifying ownership rules is very useful and will save you time in the future. And of course, save all correspondence to protect yourself should any discrepancies arise.
Kashish Gupta, Founder and CEO Hightouch
Con: Avoiding Poor Quality
You hold your brand to a high standard in regards to content and quality, but decide to outsource user generated content to decrease your content load. Unfortunately, this may result in some poor quality content you’ll need to sift through to keep up your brand standards. Some content sent your way won’t reflect the highest value of marketing. The same is true for sources and background information. Be wary of content that does not cite reliable sources or is not based in fact. Unfortunately, incorporating UCG does lead to a higher need for filtering and monitoring content, because when your team isn’t the ones writing the content and doing the research, there is more room for error going against your brand.
Manish Joneja, CEO BarkBox
Pro: More Time Spent on Other Areas
No doubt about it, user generated content saves you time! Your content load will be much decreased which gives you more time to focus on other important areas of marketing and outreach. Outsourcing your content also opens a whole new world of advertising, since content creators are working to spread awareness of your company around their own audience. Once you use UGC you’ll find yourself with more time and a steady influx of followers interested in your brand!
Candace Alarie, Founder Soak Bath Co