Are you putting user-generated content to work?

Rebecca Morgans

How tech firms can get user-generated content right

User-generated content (UGC) is growing more important within the technology marketing mix, for numerous reasons. For a long time, customers have been more inclined to trust real opinions posted online than companies’ own advertising. Said customers are today more likely to share their experiences than ever before on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube et al. And all that sharing is creating a vast public resource of UGC that is ready to be used, cost-effectively, to create highly trusted and engaging marketing content.

Of course, it’s not quite as straightforward as that.

Tech companies cannot simply go searching for their customers’ funniest memes and happiest moments, then start re-posting them to market their wares. That tends to backfire pretty hard.

"There is a right way to leverage user-generated content – it is respectful, diligent and fair."

Thankfully, it can also be fun and really effective.

UGC isn’t just for big brands

It’s also something that businesses of all sizes can put to work. However, the kinds of UGC available to you might depend on the size of your company.

High-profile companies with high-profile products are more likely to be the subject of rich content, such as unboxing videos and opinion pieces. Meanwhile, smaller companies may struggle to launch a new hashtag off the whiteboard and into the trending charts.

Known brands

SMEs + brands

Product unboxing videos

Hashtag campaigns

Blog posts

Creative content, e.g. memes and art

User reviews

Facebook & Twitter posts

Instagram photos

YouTube videos

Dos and don'ts for leveraging user generated content

Whether your business is large or small, rules and advice generally apply when leveraging UGC. I’ve rounded them up here, along with some technology-industry examples – some of which were created by TBT Marketing

Do add an original spin

Instead of simply RT-ing, re-posting or sharing without comment, add some of your brand’s creative flavour to...

  • Maximise shareability – By making the post even more fun or interesting
  • Frame the message or provide context – E.g. highlighting the best part of a review
  • Engage with the content creator – By answering their comment, having a joke or just thanking them

Don’t disrespect the creator’s work or rights

Make sure you:

  • Get permission to re-use or re-mix content
  • Credit the creator properly

If you don’t, you risk damaging relationships with every customer who finds out about it.

Do build spaces for users to create content

The big social platforms are great places to find UGC. However, you can also create your own online spaces where customers can publish content such as comments, reviews and articles.

When you create a UGC platform, you can find content easily and even set your own terms for re-using content.

Consider building:

  • A specialist blog or forum that users can contribute to – E.g. the HPE Community blog and Cloud 28+
  • A user reviews feature on your website’s product pages
  • A LinkedIn group where customers can discuss topics related to your offering
Blog Image 1

Cloud28+ is an HPE-sponsored platform for cloud computing providers to share original content

Don’t align with creators who could damage the brand

It’s great when your customers create shareable, engaging content that supports your brand. However, some content creators might hold views that reflect badly on your brand – and this could actually be damaging, if other customers perceive that you are supporting those views.

Before promoting a user’s content, check their social presence to make sure they aren’t involved in bullying, hate speech or other negative behaviour.

Do incentivise customers

"Sharing experiences online is a common activity today, but at the same time there are lots of experiences to share. There’s no guarantee users will post about your products."

Incentivising helps. Consider:

  • Running a competition, which users enter by creating a social, hashtagged post – E.g. Lenovo’s #MerryThinkPad Twitter campaign
  • Using email to invite customers to write reviews and create posts
  • Gamifying social engagement, where users “level up” or gain privileges for sharing content
Twitter Blog Image

#MerryThinkPad incentivised Twitter users to share festive ThinkPad-themed images

Don’t break advertising rules

When incentivising customers, make sure you follow laws that:

  • Prevent businesses from paying for positive reviews
  • Require paid promotions to be clearly marked as adverts

TBT Marketing can help you navigate this minefield, as well as helping you devise strategies, manage campaigns and leverage UGC effectively and ethically – just as we have for many major technology companies before.

If you’d like to know more, please get in touch. Give us a call on +44 (0)1373 469270 or email us at [email protected].

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