For some brands, user-generated content is the holy grail of digital marketing. UGC is hailed as a powerful tool to drive customer engagement and get free publicity for a brand. But marketers should understand that UGC is not fail-safe, particularly in the age of social media. There are so many things that can go wrong with a USG campaign when marketers and brands are not careful. Here’s is a list of several big UGC mistakes marketers should be aware of and avoid:
User-generated content is willingly submitted to brands for marketing purposes. Companies assume that consumers who participate in such campaigns understand this. However, even photos and videos consensually handed over to businesses are protected by copyright law.
Assume that a brand runs a Facebook campaign asking followers to submit pictures of themselves with a certain product. Most people would gladly do so. When the company ends up with hundreds or even thousands of photos, don’t assume that the content now belongs to the business. A user will not be happy to see their selfie appear on any other media, such as a magazine.
UGC campaigns are run online, so marketers should expect the usual Internet chaos. All content submitted must be moderated to avoid embarrassing situations. Consider, for example, the case of Walkers, a British food brand. The company ran a USC campaign on Instagram asking followers to submit selfies to win tickets to a big game.
The problem with this campaign was not that it failed to take off, but that it was a bit too successful. People were not shy to send their selfies. Unfortunately, for Walkers, people also started sending pictures of dictators and serial killers. Walkers never moderated the content, so the offending material was out there for all to see.
The result was an obvious PR nightmare. Marketers should learn from Walkers and always assume that some UGC would be highly offensive. There should be safeguards in place to prevent trolls and other unsavory online characters from taking over your campaign. It’s best to seek help from a social media company consultant on how to moderate the content without trampling on free speech.
UGC naturally result in a comment, usually lots of them. Even if a particular UGC campaign doesn’t go viral, it’s highly possible that spammers and trolls would begin to flood the comments section. Marketers must have a process to remove comments that are unnecessary or offensive.
It’s understandable that a brand doesn’t want to appear like an overbearing parent shushing bad words. The aim of comments moderation really is to keep spam and trolls off the conversation. Don’t try to be censorious and start deleting any negative comment. Allow free speech, and keep the malicious actors out.
Some brands overreach when creating “clean” UGC on various online platforms. If a moderator is deleting organic content to promote marketing-friendly content, the internet audience would notice. Content that is too pristine is just as bad as content that offends.
At no point should your marketing campaign appear inauthentic to users. Keep it real to drive interest and engagement. Some light moderation would do to get rid of blatantly offensive material. However, don’t overreach and try to make an organic UGC campaign look more like a choreographed ad.
Even the best UGC campaign attract negative responses and reviews. Brands don’t need to delete these. However, the moderating markets should respond to negativity immediately before allowing such content to go viral. It’s important to preserve the brand image to attract more participants. Do that by responding to negativity in a timely and effective manner.
Marketers that run UGC campaigns should understand foremost that not all publicity is good publicity. Don’t let a campaign go off the rails because of a lack of moderation or commitment. Be aware of the above mistakes and preserve the integrity of your UGC campaign.