7 Things You Should Not Do With UGC

Getting people to share positive sentiments about your brand online is the #1 goal of digital marketers. That’s because user-generated content – like reviews, social media posts, blogs, and user videos – is far more influential in driving sales than a brand’s own promotional content.  

But, while UGC is a powerful asset, there are a few things you should never do with it.

1. Underestimate UGC’s value

    One of the biggest mistakes in marketing happens when brand managers regard UGC as irrelevant or unimportant. Today, the Internet makes it possible for customers to easily share candid photos, decisions, and opinions with others, and that authentic content is what shoppers crave most.

    Nielson research indicates 92% of consumers trust personal recommendations over all other forms of advertising. And that number is on the rise, increasing 18 percent since 2007. Online reviews are also heavily relied upon, trusted by 70 percent – an increase of 15 percent in just four years!

    As it turns out, digital marketing is a lot like dating. Talk about yourself all the time, and you’ll quickly lose the interest of prospects. However, gather a few friends who happen to share some pretty awesome stories about your work, and consumers move in closer.  

    Like marketing strategist April Rudin told Forbes, “It’s not all about you! Having different voices/users weigh in with real-time stories and use cases can help move your brand forward in ways you have not imagined.”

    Related Read: “UGC Stats Every Marketer Needs to Know in 2019”.

    2. Wait until a contest is over to feature UGC

      Social media campaigns (like these hashtag hits of 2018) are now a popular method of generating brand-oriented posts. Unfortunately, many companies run these contests on autopilot, waiting until the end to do anything with content.

      They are missing a big opportunity.

      That’s because even with hashtags attached, social media activity is inherently fragmented between Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and other networks. Even though fans may be telling the brand story at the same time, they’re also doing it separately, and much of that content will quickly fade out of view.

      There is a fix, though. Aggregation engines make it possible for brand managers to scan social media networks for desired hashtags or feeds and pull that content into customized dashboards. Clever brands route UGC into streaming social hubs, displaying the full breadth of the campaign as it occurs. This also makes it easy to find influential UGC to repost (with permission!) on your own social media accounts.

      Highlighting fan content shows users you’re listening. That’s always a good idea, and not just because attentiveness builds trust and overall engagement. Those are two very solid reasons to start, though!

      3. Leave amazing content on social media networks

        Researchers at Statista recently discovered that a mind-blowing boost in engagement occurs when consumers get exposed to brand and user-generated content together. Simply including fan photos or customer reviews on a company’s website increased shopper confidence by 73 percent!

        That’s why smart marketers don’t just leave UGC on social media networks. At TwineSocial, we regularly partner with clients to activate cutting-edge stadium displays, invite event attendees to submit content on live social walls, and even showcase real customer photos on e-commerce platforms and retail environments.

        Do be careful, though. Streaming UGC from social media networks does require unique authorization.

        4. Publish without permission

          The first commandment of UGC is you shall not publish without permission, says Australian Marketing Institute CEO Lee Tonitto.

          “Though user-generated content is voluntarily created and can be voluntarily submitted, its use without consent of the content owner can be a serious offense,” she told CMO. “This usually happens when companies reuse customer photos that they’ve found on social platforms like Instagram and Twitter.”

          Copyright protections extend to social media posts, too, and overlooking the legal concept is not worth the risk. Consumers already view brands with distrust and more than half say they would stop doing business with a company that uses personal information unethically.

          The better course of action is to secure relevant permissions. Under network terms and conditions, users do grant the network and partners the right to search and display public posts. The key is that content must remain connected to and accessed through official network APIs.

          Fortunately, with partners like TwineSocial, the heavy lifting is already done. Marketers need only to select a customizable layout, configure rules and filters as desired, and seamlessly integrate UGC displays into websites, mobile apps, and live event screens. 

          As a rule, fans are generally excited about the possibility of being featured by brands they love, but if you intend to repurpose content outside of social hubs, be sure to get specific user permission. This is especially important with explicit advertising. Until you get consent, UGC is not yours to share.

          A free trial and complimentary demo of TwineSocial’s Content Permissions Module is available here.

          5. Forget to monitor and moderate user posts

            The Internet never sleeps. This doesn’t mean marketing teams need to be on-duty 24/7, but at least one person in your organization should be monitoring UGC daily. Leaving comments or questions unanswered gives visitors the impression you’re not there or you’re too busy to care – neither desirable for your brand image.

            “If marketers are going to provide the opportunity for UGC, they need to commit to it,” marketing director Robin Marchant told CMO Australia. “Enabling their audience to submit comments, and then suddenly disabling this feature because of negative feedback, for example, is counter-productive and will only result in more negative feelings toward the brand. If an open dialogue is to be created between the organization and its audience, effective monitoring and regulation methods need to be established.”

            But wait. Manually sifting through each day’s social media to find relevant content would be a huge waste of time, right? Yes. There are better ways of getting the job done.

            One of the perks of aggregation and display engines is that all relevant posts can be compiled into a private administrative hub for easy review. While this is particularly useful in moderating social hubs – auto-publishing or requiring pre-approval before publishing fan content – the dashboard also gives teams a bigger picture of how customers are talking about the brand or its competitors.

            6. Ignore questions or negative feedback

              Consumers increasingly head to social media channels to reach out to brands. As SocialFish reports, “Sometimes it’s a kneejerk reaction (frustrated people are known to reach for their smartphones to vent) and sometimes it’s more deliberate than that (the more people use social media for engaging with brands, the more we expect to receive fast responses there). This type of social media use makes a lot of sense in the context of the digital revolution, which has empowered customers and flipped the flow of messaging on its head. Interruptive, hard-sell marketing has been replaced by inbound marketing, as people engage with companies online because they want to.”

              It’s more important than ever for brands to plug into social media and respond quickly to inquiries. According to a Lithium Technologies survey, 53% of Twitter users expect to hear back from a brand within an hour of tweeting, and if they tweeted a complaint, the number jumps to 72%.

              Timely responses minimize damage. Like Bo Thorp of global production house Chimney Group says, “Bad can be turned to good if handled well.” The key is to always, always respond. Try not to censor, and don’t make excuses for unmet expectations.

              “Treat your social media channels like your office phone, in that when someone calls, you answer, and you do your best to help – it’s a useful analogy, except for one key difference. Billions of people around the world can listen in on this phone line,” Social Media Consultant Daniel Kushner says. “Keep in mind that your goal is to show your customers that they are important to you. Acknowledge their problems, provide them with wise advice, and engage them so they don’t forget who you are.”

              You may not win over every disgruntled consumer, but a thoughtful response will certainly earn the respect of others.

              7. Showcase only a subset of your community

                “One of the most impactful aspects of user-generated content is its relatability. It allows shoppers to see relevant information provided by the most relatable and reliable source – your past buyers,” a Hubspot article explains. This shared interest builds confidence and can inspire shoppers at every stage of the purchase path.

                It may be easier to narrow content down to just one type of customer, but successful brands speak to their entire target audience. That’s why HubSpot recommends including “an assortment of photos, reviews, and Q&A exchanges to show the diversity and breadth of your brand community. This will attract potential customers and inspire them with varying uses and applications for your products.”

                “For example, one person may use your product as a scarf, while another uses it as a beach blanket, and yet another uses it as a table runner. If you are selling apparel and accessories, comfort and fit will vary by customer. It is in both your interest and the shopper’s interest that they know as much as possible about your product when making their purchase decision.”

                Many voices lend transparency and trust to your brand image.

                For more ideas on how to promote shared enthusiasm around an idea, product, or community, check out our solutions gallery. Then, kick off your own success story with a free 7-day trial of TwineSocial. Let us know how we can help!

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