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Understanding User Generated Content: The Pros & Cons

User Generated Content (UGC) is any type of digital content including videos, photos, testimonials, tweets, or blog posts that are created by unpaid contributors or fans to promote a brand. A few years ago, brands started to see the potential of using their own fans’ testimonials and began adopting the idea to help promote their business. Why? Because word-of-mouth referrals are the best kind of referrals, especially in today’s age of digital marketing in Dubai.

Giving fans the space to share their opinions and be able to directly engage and with the product or service strengthens consumer loyalty. This word of mouth buzz is invaluable in reaching new consumers, building SEO services in Dubai and cementing relationships with existing buyers.

However, as with any marketing tool, there are cons to every benefit. With UGC, when you are directly dealing with people, there are bound to be some unprecedented ramifications. Thus, you can say there are two schools of thought – the first are the advocates who believe that UGC presents opportunities traditional content doesn’t for connecting with the audience and building brand influencers. And the second believe it can be too costly, too hard to monitor and gives too much leeway for negative voices to hijack brand communications.

Another cause for concern is that it takes too long to build a user database and too much manpower to police conversations. If you’re going to police UGC to the extent that comments are sanitised in line with the brand policy then yes, it probably will use too many resources. It will be stilted and likely to backfire. But then this reveals that you’re relying on UGC for all the wrong reasons anyway.

From a legal and ethical perspective, it is important to monitor online content to ensure your blog, website, social media channels or other spaces aren’t being used to breed insults or be spammed. It is however also about striking a balance because negative feedback is important and relevant criticism is can be useful. So when monitored correctly, UGC can be a goldmine of user feedback and suggestions, providing valuable market research data on product and marketing direction and execution.

Allowing everyone a chance to have their say can also take some of the legwork out of the sales process! A successful example of UGC in the recent past is the collaboration between Belkin and Lego. It shows just how powerful letting everyone have a voice on owned media can be. Belkin created an iPhone case with a back made entirely of Lego studs, allowing the user to attach Lego bricks in any design of their choice to create a totally unique case. Belkin then invited those who had bought the case to upload their creations on Instagram and used some on the actual product page, showing those who hadn’t yet added to cart what they were missing. It gave users a sense of purpose and pride to create something personal that would be shared with the world. It became very popular and was a great success.

It is important to understand that UGC works when the intent is clear, transparent and truthful. Paid spokespeople or marketing teams posing as everyday users defeats the purpose as the authenticity and impact of the content get lost. And you really can’t fool consumers these days. Brands can attempt to steer conversations in favourable directions but in the end, people won’t buy it.

Do you like this article? Let us know what you think of UGC in the comments below!

By Bassem Saber Digital Marketing Expert
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