Losing Control: 4 Potential Pitfalls of User Generated Content

Posted on June 27th 2014

Losing Control: 4 Potential Pitfalls of User Generated Content

user generated contentThere’s no denying the upsides of a healthy influx of user-generated content (UGC). When your customers are posting glowing reviews about your business, sharing your marketing campaigns with brand-specific hashtags, or commenting frequently on your blogs, your business reaps the benefits of an engaged community, free copy, higher search rankings, and broader reach. Your target audience may feel a deeper connection with your brand. At first glance, having an abundance of UGC seems like an effective way to market your business and engage with your customers. But as with anything else, user-generated content has its downsides. Here are four potential pitfalls to keep in mind.

Inconsistent messaging
It’s important to remember that very few people apart from your team are intimately familiar with your brand’s messaging. This is one of the major drawbacks of user-generated content. Your customers may be well-intentioned as they’re posting updates and tweets with your campaign hashtags, but they may not be conveying your message in a way that you originally intended. Inconsistent messaging may leave your audience feeling confused about your business’ platform and services.

Campaign hijackers
Keep in mind when you’re managing a UGC campaign that things may take an unexpected turn. A handful of dissatisfied customers or vindictive competitors can quickly send your marketing effort into a downward spiral. A good example of this is the #McDStories campaign launched by McDonald’s in 2012. Originally, the marketing effort was supposed to put a positive spin on working for McDonald’s. The brand encouraged employees to share their experiences. Instead, disgruntled employees and customers used the hashtag to post negative quips about the popular fast food brand. Be aware that campaign hijacking is a real issue, and come up with proactive strategies to combat the problem ahead of your launch.

Lack of engagement
The most effective user-generated content campaigns are backed by a strong community. If your brand actively engages with your online audience regularly, you’re a candidate to run a successful user generated campaign. But sometimes other factors come into play that may affect audience engagement. A lack of engagement from your customers can be caused by everything from a confusing campaign structure to a poorly-timed launch. Whatever the reason, it’s important to have a back-up plan in place to make sure that your upcoming efforts don’t fall flat with your audience. Be flexible and willing to adjust your strategy if your customers aren’t engaging with your brand as you expected.

Too much engagement
Sometimes the problem isn’t a lack of engagement, it’s way too much engagement. But a lot of interest and discussion is a good thing, right? Not always. The result may leave your team feeling completely overwhelmed and unprepared for the amount of comments or submissions you’re receiving. A campaign can quickly spiral out of control and become impossible to moderate effectively. In this case, seeking outside help for content moderation can be helpful. Some businesses turn to distributed moderation services like Amazon’s Mechanical Turk to manage the influx of UGC. MTurk, as it’s commonly known, relies on freelance workers to help moderate content. Other companies that aren’t necessarily comfortable crowdsourcing their content moderation for privacy reasons may choose to seek out specialty services. Platforms like WebPurify have dedicated teams of employees trained in the art of image and content moderation. There are a couple different approaches your business can take, but the bottom line is that effective moderation is critical when it comes to UGC campaigns.

The benefits of user-generated content are many, but there are also pitfalls to be aware of. If you’re launching a marketing effort that calls for UGC, be proactive about managing the process. Have a back-up plan in place in case things get off track, and come up with a moderation strategy ahead of your launch. Pre-planning can help you keep your campaign on track!

jessullrich

Jessica Ullrich

Jess Ullrich is an experienced SEO copywriter, blogger, and social media manager. She enjoys studying and writing about trends in the nonprofit industry, higher education, small business, entrepreneurship, and home & DYI.

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Comments

"Your customers may be well-intentioned as they’re posting updates and tweets with your campaign hashtags, but they may not be conveying your message in a way that you originally intended."

Very true. The NYPD had exactly this problem when they solicited input from the public on their Twitter feed (see: http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-27126041).