February 26, 2024

What is user-generated content and why does it matter?

By Gracia Kahungu
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With the meteoric rise of social media and influencers over the last 10 years or so, you’ve probably heard the acronym UGC by now. But you might not know what it is, or how it works. 

UGC stands for user-generated content. It refers to any content that’s created by a user of a particular brand or product, and shared on social media or various other online platforms

UGC has redefined the way brands connect with their audience and approach their social media campaigns. Its authenticity and genuine nature make UGC an important marketing tool for brands and businesses seeking organic endorsements.

UGC can be leveraged by brands to great positive effect. But, as with most online content, it also comes with challenges.

Here, we take a look at the value and pitfalls of UGC for brands, and explore how content moderation can help make sure your brand only benefits from user-generated content. 

Let's go!

What is user-generated content?

UGC includes many different types of content that are not produced by your brand, but by the people and consumers who use your products. 

It takes many forms, from social media posts to reviews, blogs, videos, photos and even comments on a social media page. Essentially, any content that is created and voluntarily shared by users across digital platforms is considered UGC. 

Regardless of its format, UGC is a chance for consumers to express their thoughts and opinions about your brand freely. It’s this authentic, down-to-earth feel that resonates with other consumers, and makes them feel like they can trust what the creator is saying. 

And because UGC creators are customers, followers or fans of your brand, they can either become your biggest advocates, or your biggest detractors. In fact, 80 per cent of people say they make buying decisions based on friends' social media posts; good or bad. 

The value of user-generated content

UGC resonates strongly with consumers because it provides a transparent and relatable view of a product or experience. 

Positive UGC is usually created by enthusiastic customers who become brand ambassadors by voluntarily sharing their experience with a brand. In just one video or review, they become a powerful advocate and let your brand reach a whole new network of people, which significantly expands your reach. 

The more people think a UGC creator is credible, the more likely it is that the brand or product they recommend will ‘blow up’. This kind of buzz attracts new customers and makes existing ones even more loyal. Customers who are engaged are more likely to buy from your brand repeatedly and become ambassadors themselves, leading to long-term brand loyalty. 

Positive comments on your social media pages are user-generated content which can really improve your brand image. Glowing feedback is seen by anyone who visits your page, and often sparks comments from other users. Before you know it, you have a whole conversation within your online community, praising your product; and you can use this feedback as part of your marketing efforts, for example, by anonymising quotes and putting them on your website. 

When UGC about your brand is positive, it can amplify your brand message in an authentic way. But when UGC about you is negative, it can be a real threat to your image and reputation… 

User-generated content pitfalls

We’ve looked at the positive side of UGC and how it can be a huge asset to your brand. But what about its challenges? What are the pitfalls of UGC and how can you overcome these to make sure that all user-generated content, good and bad, ultimately helps to strengthen your brand?

Since user-generated content revolves entirely around people sharing their honest opinions, without any involvement or influence from you, it means you can’t control how your brand is being portrayed or perceived. Understandably, many brands struggle with this. 

Your brand could be associated with messages or imagery you don’t want or intend it to be. Or, it could become associated with a group of people linked to a fringe ideology. These are frightening thoughts for any company, no matter how big or small your online presence. 

Another worrying aspect of UGC, is the potential for creators to recommend purchasing your product from a fraudulent website which undermines your name. These kinds of comments can trickle down to your brand’s own social media pages, and cause even more damage to your reputation. 

How content moderation can help

The harsh truth is, there's not much you can do about negative UGC about your brand on online platforms which aren't yours. After all, we can't control what someone shares on their personal social media pages or on public forums. 

Social listening tools can help somewhat. These let you monitor mentions about your brand on the internet and see what is being said. If needed, you can respond to that content; and you'll also have insights into what you can do to improve your product or service, if the overall sentiment is negative.

The good news, though, is that you absolutely can control user-generated content on your own online spaces, and steer the narrative around your brand in a positive direction. The secret is content moderation. 

Content moderation on your social media is one of the best ways you can keep control over user-generated content in those spaces, and use it to your advantage. 

Bodyguard’s automated moderation solution analyses the content users leave on your pages, around the clock. It recognises and removes toxic content which could damage your brand reputation or be distressing to other users, in real time. 

Toxicity is never allowed. But Bodyguard also never crosses the line into censorship; so constructive or valid criticism is permitted. And taking on board non-toxic negative criticism from your audience and customers is an important part of your brand’s improvement. But, with that said, you’re probably wondering how we can help you navigate user-generated content...

It's all thanks to our classification system, which instantly classifies all the comments left on your pages into defined categories. This lets you instantly identify, address and respond to UGC, whether it's positive or negative, about your brand. When UGC is negative, you can face the feedback head on, and make changes to improve the experience of your customer, and change the narrative. 

We can create custom classifications for you, including customer complaints, pricing, customer satisfaction and even general customer enquiries. You can easily sort through these messages and see exactly what people are saying about you through brand-specific tags. 

And it’s not just about negative UGC. You can just as easily identify positive content and constructive criticism about your brand with our classification system, and use it to make your messaging louder and more credible. 

Bodyguard also detects and gets rid of unwanted links to things like fraudulent websites, ads and scams, which have been left by bots. With these removed, people who visit your pages and have a genuine interest in your product or service get the high-quality experience you intended.

Ready to take back control?

User-generated content isn't going anywhere. Take control of UGC on your social media and other platforms with automated, 24/7 content moderation from Bodyguard.

To find out more about how it works, our pricing and the platforms we protect, contact us!

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