We hear the term used an awful lot but what is user-generated content? or UGC?
It’s about creating, sharing and offering knowledge and information, media of some form or opinion leadership through modern communication methods with the objective of reaching a wide readership, followers or audience. The audience you gather will either become your customer base or seed the material to reach your customer base. Producing content has become one of the most powerful marketing tools available. It isn’t only online specific, however with so many short-cutting applications and sharing capabilities on social networks, ezines, email and even regular sites it is by far a more cost-effective approach to distribution as well as production.
What is content exactly? There is a vast scope of how content can exist, and multiple uses for it. Such as – blogs, videos, audio samples, contributing comments or sourcing comments on bookmarking sites, photography, pod-casting, market research polls, tweets, viral games, e-books, handbooks, review sites, webinars, events plus many more ways of interacting and engaging with an audience, a community and as a customer service tool.
Producing content online has vastly increased PR opportunities for brands and agencies. A key benefit for distributing content online is the statistical data available. By using the data available about online behaviour the content producer is able to tailor the content to better target their audience segmentation by which means higher audience retention and an increase in search ranking results.
It’s obvious to see the benefits of producing content and offering advice or tips to support the integration of a product to market, but let’s look at the main obstacles that you may come across.
Getting internal buy-in: The confusion that social media brings with it is the complexity of whose responsibility it is within company culture. The PR team, marketing, HR, communications? In fact it’s all of them. The more people in-house who contribute to generating content creates a plethora of company and services promotional content that supports the brand message. Enlist a conductor or curator to manage the production of content to oversee that content stays within company policy, who also works closely with the community manager. They will need to set clear procedures and ‘convince’ top level decision makers that social media’s most valuable when used across internal reach of company communications.
Measurement from content to sales: It is an investment of both time and money and it is difficult to directly track sales generated from it, but not impossible. Develop the core objectives and results the company needs to attain at the beginning. There are a lot of good tools out there but it still needs to be analysed by a consultancy or someone who understands the capabilities of these tools and are able to differentiate sentiment responses into targeted results. Develop these before the strategy in order to ensure the content producers time and resources aren’t wasted.
Loss of control: Is your company willing to be open or candid with their public? Are conversations restricted internally? Your customers are talking about you, you can’t afford not to be part of the conversation. The company does have the power to steer the conversation by producing content that offers a clean and simple representation of the brand and their ethics. You need to be seen as the messenger. The company needs to set clear procedures and policy with a list of possible objections from the start. And the first people who need to know about this are internal employees. They are your integral to creating the right image to your customers.
This is only a snap shot of some of the main aspects of content creation for social media. Each week I post a blog post on and around these subjects, simplifying the multiple uses of creating content, outlining terms, offering tips and advice to help your company harness the multifaceted world of social media. If you want to discuss your business or project on managing your companies content or UGC, or in-house or white label training workshops please don’t hesitate tocontact me.
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Kathryn is a Digital Marketing and Communications Specialist with 14+ years in the industry working with SME's and individuals, to corporate and public sector organisations. She is also a mum and one of the pioneers of holistic marketing - digital, consumer convergence. and practical management.