As a business professional, you know the importance of keeping an eye on what's being said about your company online. And if you're using social media to promote your products or services, you need to be especially vigilant in tracking user-generated content and making good use of it. Thankfully, there are a number of platforms that can help make this process easy and automated.
In this blog post, we'll take a look at some of the best options available and how they work. So, whether you're just getting started with social media monitoring or you're looking for a better way to keep track of all the chatter around your brand, read on for the scoop about user-generated content!
What Is User-Generated Content (UGC)?
Think of the last time you were checking Facebook and saw a notification from your friend about how great their vacation was. You click on the link and it takes you to a blog post that they wrote about their trip—including the hotel, local activities, and the restaurants visited. Something as simple as this is an example of user-generated content. UGC can come in the form of written articles, videos, or anything else that users create and share online about an experience they had with a brand. Businesses are starting to pay more attention to UGC to connect with customers, generate leads, and increase the public's understanding of what they offer. So, what makes UGC so powerful? And how can you start using it in your own marketing strategy?
Types of user-generated content include:
- Social media posts or comments
- Reviews and testimonials
- Blog posts
- Video content
- Q&A forums and comments
- Case studies
- Hashtag campaigns
Why Modern Brands Need to Track UGC
If you're not monitoring UGC associated with your business, you're missing out. This is especially true if a company is well-established with plenty of buzz surrounding it already. UGC can provide valuable insights into what customers and prospects really think about your brand and how they experience your products or services. It can also help you identify and track emerging trends in your userbase. Here's a closer look at why businesses should be monitoring UGC - and how to do it effectively.
The most important reason brands should be keeping pace with UGC is that it can be a form of social proof. In the best-case scenario, content from users can serve as organic advertisements for your organization. Because it is developed by a real user of your products or services, it is natural and honest—rarely salesy. Most potential customers want to know the opinions and experiences of your current customers more than your own biased opinion of your offerings. According to Crowdriff, "Almost half (47%) of millennials and 36% of baby boomers trust UGC whereas only 25% of both demographics say they trust branded content."
Seeing this type of organic content can serve as a powerful motivator to give your business consideration or even cause a purchase on the spot. Sometimes users can better explain a product to potential customers than the brand itself. This is natural, as the business is never in the exact position of its users and thus can only research and speculate about what they need. On the other hand, a fellow user may know this innately and be able to articulate it clearly.
Another great reason to employ user-generated content is to spotlight your users! This can be a great way to thank them for trusting your brand and speaking out about your products or services. While there are plenty of other ways to show appreciation, sharing their content on social media or otherwise lifting up their voice will make your users feel seen and cared for. This works wonders for building a loyal customer base.
Lastly, bringing UGC into your marketing strategy is a way to usher your brand into a more modern style of business. Thanks to social media, blogs, and email, being a customer has taken on a whole new meaning. No longer are companies dealing with faceless customers and making simple transactions. Instead, every business is building a community. This is true regardless of the industry or whether your users even realize they are part of a community. Incorporating UGC into marketing campaigns and organic content is an effective way to encourage that community to grow and learn from one another.
The key to measuring the success of user-generated content is to look at KPIs (key performance indicators). To do this, you'll need some sort of tracking tool, which we'll discuss later in this post. The first thing to start measuring is content production costs: how much time, money, and content does it take to keep your content strategy running smoothly?
Next, look at the most obvious metrics of all: content performance metrics. If you can't see how your UGC is performing in relation to other types of content, it will be impossible to measure its effect over time. These KPIs include:
- page visits
- ad impressions
- click-through rates
- revenue & sales
- email subscribers
- time spent on your website
You can also choose which metrics to focus on based on your specific campaign goals. For example, if your goal is engagement, you can track engagement rates like clicks, shares, or comments for UGC posts. On the other hand, if your goal is simply brand awareness, you might track new follows, organic traffic, reach, and impressions. Other goals like customer retention or conversions might warrant a slightly different KPI setup, which a UGC platform can help you figure out.
User-Generated Content vs Crowdsourcing
The terms user-generated content and crowdsourcing are used almost interchangeably in today’s business world, but there is a fundamental difference between the two concepts. User-generated content refers to any type of information that consumers create themselves, including written reviews, user-made videos, or photos posted to social media sites such as Facebook or Instagram. The term crowdsourcing, on the other hand, refers to the outsourcing of tasks to individuals or groups through an open call for participation and input. Although both are methods used to collect data from consumers, they each have their own unique purpose and distinct advantages and disadvantages.
UGC is trusted and provides more content for search engines to grab onto. It is also honest in the sense that it allows for negative feedback. However, it can also be tricky if ownership of the content is unclear, or the content is highly unstructured and confusing. Crowdsourcing can be helpful as it draws immediate attention to your brand—it rallies your entire audience to participate at the same time (often with the lure of a prize). However, crowdsourcing can lead to things like plagiarism by dishonest people. In addition, it doesn't leave a lot of room for confidentiality.
When considering your options for user-generated content versus crowdsourcing, you need to think about whether it makes sense for your business goals. As with all marketing strategies, it is important to evaluate your unique situation.
Platforms that Help You Monitor User-Generated Content
More businesses are turning to UGC to help them create informative, engaging, and relevant content. But how can you actually manage and monitor this content across the vastness of the internet? Without tools for tracking and measuring content marketing data, it's incredibly difficult to keep track of what's happening. Drawing insights from your data will be next to impossible when social media monitoring and similar tasks are all done manually. So, you may want to explore some of the best UGC-related platforms on the market. These tools have various different functions and features, but all are related to your content strategy & incorporating user feedback.
Disqus is one of the top content and discussion hosting platforms. It has been around since 2007, providing forum-like commenting functionality to sites like CNN, USA Today, The New York Times, and more. But in its quest to become the most popular commenting platform out there, Disqus had its work cut out—it was competing against the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, YouTube, and other well-established platforms with strong user bases of their own.
Disqus offers users a variety of features, including comment notification tools and tools to help manage threaded conversations. It also includes social sharing options to help your audience share posts on Facebook and Twitter, as well as a domain-blocking tool that lets you suppress spam on your site while still offering an open dialogue with your readers. Disqus is completely free to use, but it does allow ads on its sites—you can opt-out of these ads if you wish.
IntenseDebate is one of the most popular commenting platforms available today, used by millions of websites across the world. The software has been praised by its users for its simple design, its ability to scale with user demands, and its easy installation process. If you’re looking to add an engaging, insightful, and unique feature to your website, IntenseDebate may be just what you need. While this platform does have some great features, there are three that make it stand out from the crowd. These are keyword ranking tracking, new user-generated content notifications, and support for popular image-hosting sites. IntenseDebate allows you to always be in touch with your followers and what they're thinking.
If you're a business owner, then you know the importance of online reviews. They can make or break your business - which is where Yotpo comes in. Yotpo is a platform that helps you collect and showcase customer reviews on your website. It's easy to use, and it can help improve your SEO rankings and bring in more traffic.
A successful social media strategy requires regular engagement with your audience. How do you keep people coming back to your page day after day? One way is to create a platform that encourages repeat visits. Shortstack assists you in creating hashtag giveaways, contests, landing pages, and more to give your users an interactive experience online.
TurnTo is a platform that allows businesses to connect with customers in real-time. It's easy to use, and you can get started in minutes. TurnTo is perfect for businesses that want to reach customers in a more personalized way. With this UGC platform, you can easily answer customer questions and provide support. You can also curate social media posts to fit your desired customer experience.
Stackla is a powerful platform that helps businesses create, manage, and share engaging content across social media and the web. Using Stackla, businesses can quickly find and curate user-generated content from all over the internet, then publish it directly to their websites, social media channels, and other marketing materials. With Stackla, businesses can easily create rich, engaging online experiences that capture the essence of what makes social media so popular—users' love of sharing great content.
Walls.io is a unique platform that allows businesses and individuals to create beautiful, interactive walls using their social media feeds. It's an easy way to keep your followers engaged and interested in what you have to say. Plus, Walls.io makes it easy to track how well your content is performing, so you can continue to improve and grow your online presence.
Pixlee is a platform that helps businesses tap into user-generated content (UGC) like ratings, reviews, and influencer posts with an aggregator. With Pixlee, you can collect and curate user photos and videos from all over the web, then turn them into shareable content that will help promote your brand across multiple social channels.
Nowadays, there are plenty of UGC tools to choose from, you may wonder where to even begin. You'll want to consider the price, integration options, and more. For help making a selection, check out this guide for choosing a UGC platform.
The Pros and Cons of UGC Monitoring
Any UGC platform has its benefits, but some are a little more well-stacked. Some of the benefits of using UGC monitoring include:
Efficiency. By far the biggest reason to employ a UGC monitoring platform is automation. Manually tracking user feedback is somewhat impractical unless you have a staff member with nothing but time and energy to do this. UGC platforms automatically search for mentions of your brand across the entire internet and deliver them to you on a silver platter.
Pattern Recognition. As you gather more content, it may illuminate patterns that you otherwise would have missed. For example, an e-commerce brand may discover their customers' favorite thing about a product, or the main benefit it adds to their life. This information can be used powerfully in future marketing campaigns.
Influencer Marketing. If you intend to bring influencers on board to help market your business, you may want a more effective way to manage and track their work. A UGC platform will help you see what your team of influencers is up to and what activities are working the best.
While there are plenty of obvious reasons to keep track of UGC, there are some inevitable downsides. These include:
Negative feedback. Every business has the occasional unsatisfied customer or negative review. If you monitor UGC, you may stumble upon negativity that you otherwise wouldn't, and it can bring down team morale. However, many professionals would see this as a good thing, as they can better shape their offerings & make changes based on this feedback.
Anonymity. Some content may either be anonymous, or it may be difficult to pin down exactly who posted it. This could make it seem less reputable in the eyes of customers.
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