Secret weapon or known tool: UGC
When the target group does the marketing.
Just put your feet up and let your target group do the marketing? Is that possible? Of course, it's not quite that simple, but there is a bit of truth in it: We're talking about user-generated content, or marketing content that is created and published by the target group. Direct, honest and authentic messages - very valuable for marketing. Well then, pencils out - let's take a look at what user-generated content is all about.
What is UGC?
User Generated Content (UGC)- Basically, it is content that does not come from professional content creators or companies, but is created by ordinary users or the general public. This can be all sorts of content, such as text, images, videos, reviews, comments, or any other type of media.
And what happens to the content created and where can it be found? Sure: on the Internet.
All kidding aside, social media is a great example of UGC playout. Think of tweets on Twitter, posts on Facebook, photos on Instagram or videos on YouTube - all this content can also be content created by users who are not professional creators or don't show this level of experience.
But UGC is not limited to social media. For example, if you search for product reviews on e-commerce sites like Amazon or TripAdvisor, you'll find many comments from customers sharing their honest opinions about products, services, hotels, and restaurants.
Online forums and discussion groups provide an opportunity for users to share knowledge, ask questions, and engage in lively conversations. Think also of the comments that can be found under blog articles - they often contain valuable feedback, opinions and additional information from readers. Even Wikipedia is edited by a broad group of users, and the wiki contributions they create are another example of UGC.
And sure enough, how could it be otherwise - on platforms like TikTok and YouTube there are also heaps of videos created by users as part of UGC. Be it for entertainment, education or other reasons.
Why is user-generated content so important? Because it is often perceived as authentic and credible. People are more likely to trust the opinions and recommendations of others than brands and companies.
As a result, companies and platforms often use UGC to strengthen their brand image, leverage customer reviews and recommendations, encourage community participation, and increase their visibility on social media and search engines.
In short, UGC is a key driver of engagement and interaction in the digital world, and we're sure to see a lot more of it.
Advantages and disadvantages
It's clear there are pros and cons to UGC, so let's take a look.
Authenticity and credibility: UGC is often perceived as more authentic and credible than content created by companies. Because it comes from users who have actually had experiences, UGC is often seen as trustworthy.
Customer engagement: Involving customers and users in content creation can build customer loyalty. When people feel that their opinions and contributions are valued, they often develop a stronger bond with a brand or platform.
Cost savings: companies can benefit from UGC without having to bear the costs of content creation and production. This can be especially beneficial for small businesses with limited resources.
Viral distribution: if UGC is interesting, entertaining or useful, it can spread quickly across social media and other platforms, resulting in increased reach.
Diversity of perspectives: UGC can reflect a variety of perspectives, opinions and experiences, leading to a broader and more diverse content offering.
Sounds great at first, is there anything wrong with that?
Quality: UGC varies widely in terms of quality and relevance. Not all user-generated content is well-researched or of high quality, which can lead to bias or negative impact.
Legal issues: The use of UGC can raise legal issues, especially when it comes to copyright or data protection regulations. Companies need to ensure that they respect the rights of users.
Lack of control: Companies have less control over user-generated content. If UGC is negative or harmful, it can affect a brand's image.
Time investment: managing and moderating UGC requires time and resources. This can be especially challenging when dealing with large amounts of generated content.
So roughly balances out in terms of quantity - though of course the classification varies. Because even though it takes time, the trust factor can be more important in the long run than the time invested.
If you want to see some good examples of how brands have achieved high engagement rates with the help of UGC, you should definitely take a look at the Hubspot article.
What could come in the next few years
If you type "user-generated content" into Google, you get over a billion search results. In Google News, too, you'll find a whole host of current articles that are hotly discussing the topic.
And what is being speculated and discussed there?
Sure, AI - how could it be otherwise in times of Chat GPT. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and UGC - content created by users can also be created by users with the help of AI.
Video and livestreaming are also currently one of the trending topics on TikTok. Livestreams in which users talk about products could also become a form of UGC. And if you conduct surveys and/or observe the comments and interactions, you can learn a lot about the target group in parallel.
In the area of 3D and VR, it is also conceivable that brand content created by the target group will soon show up there. And since UGC has been on the marketing agenda for some time and its importance is not waning, it is conceivable that there will be more special platforms where, on the one hand, the exchange between brand and user can take place for UGC, but also where it can be made available.
What the motivation might be
There are certainly many and very individual reasons why users create content for companies.
Users with few followers (or those who are interested in growing) create content about and for brands in order to communicate, present themselves, and also for their own reach.
Using one's own expert knowledge to use a stage, to show off one's own knowledge - this can also be a motivation for UGC.
Forms of altruism, especially in the social or environmental field, are also conceivable: Being so convinced of an idea or a product that one selflessly agrees to create content. But of course there are also monetary reasons, such as a certain fee, compensation in the form of discounts or a bonus. Beyond that, there are probably many more aspects to it, the most common of which we have summarized here.
UGC has become a fundamental part of the digital age and the way people create, share and consume information has used. Overall, user-generated content has the potential to make online marketing more interactive and vibrant. However, companies and platforms need to consider the pros and cons of UGC to ensure it is used in a responsible and effective way.
More articles from us can be found on the Flanke 7 blog.