As social media expands, and participation by consumers grows, there is no stopping the sharing of content about specific products and brands. The creation of user-generated content can be amazing for a company, or it can be horrible, but either way it is important to acknowledge. This content is important because customers trust other customer’s opinion more then advertisements or a company’s social media. If potential customers trust fellow consumers then the content being produced by this group is extremely valuable.
The article by Eric Siu outlines past campaigns driven by user generated content that were successful. It shows how this content can help a brand become even more successful. Benefits of this content are that it is free and once the campaign starts it is less time consuming in the sense of the company not having to create the content. To ensure this campaign will be successful, and content will be created, the campaign should center on content that excites the primary consumer of the product.
I think a great example used in the article would be the campaign by Starbucks where they asked customers to decorate the white cups Starbucks is famous for. This was a success for the brand because it started the trend of taking a picture and posting your Starbucks order. With each post that is created by a consumer the Starbuck brand is getting free advertisements with positive sentiments. The campaign generated over 4,000 user-generated posts in a three-week time span. It’s success stemmed from how easy it was enter the contest, and it allowed each customer to have a unique perspective on why they drank Starbucks.
There is no doubt that user generated content can be beneficial for companies in terms of publicity, money, and time efficiency. However, there are some big risks that come with consumers posting content related to a brand. As previously mentioned customers trust fellow consumers more then a company. This means that if negative content appears it can be very dangerous for a company. On social media a company has no control over the content that is posted about them. This means that every negative post created can be seen be unlimited amounts of potential customers creating a negative sentiment for the brand.
When these posts appear companies have very few options on how to handle the negative ones. It would be unethical to remove the posts, or block the users, and ignoring them doesn’t allow customers voices to be heard. A solution, and opportunity, for this problem would be to open two-way communication between a company and its publics. By starting a conversation and listening to the concerns of customers it allows a company build trust and improve for the future. Listening to the concerns of the public will help a company be successful.
There are major positives and negatives of user generated content. After looking at each side of the concept it is clear that there is more value then concerns regarding it. Negative posts will surface but companies can use them as a chance to create a meaningful relationship with customers. Social media is showing no signs of slowing down, and because of that companies need to adapt to these platforms. Content created by users is the base of social media and it has an incredible amount of potential for companies to use.