Can brands depend upon user generated content for their promotions?

Do you recall writing a review for a skincare brand you have been using? Or for that matter posting some videos, comments, pictures, blogs, and testimonials stamping your support to the brand in question? We are living in an age of the Internet, which is probably the biggest of the invention of the last century allowing us to connect people from across the world in a seamless fashion enabling their expression in an open and free manner. Interactivity between the brand and the audience has never been so enormous historically and so has been the impact of this on brand communications.

From cars to coffee shops, travel sites to garment brands, and hotels to tourism players have been successfully using UGC (user-generated content) to the benefit of their respective brands. Digital videos, blogs, vlogs, reviews, experiences and many such forms as creative expressions have been successfully used by marketers worldwide.

Have you ever thought why has UGC become extremely important today? In today’s age of hyper-social media connectivity, it is even more important to talk in the same language of your target audience and gain their confidence. Honesty and transparency in communication with the audience always pay in the long-term and it generates a great fan-following for the company’s products and services.

User-Generated content can establish a clear feedback channel through an honest report on the products or services, which can then be utilised by the advertising or marketing professional in a more targeted fashion. Such feedback can be linked with sales, specific geographies & segments and promotional communication can be tweaked as per the insights.

Trick here for the brand communicators and marketers is to engage their audience in direct communication and drive them to produce content, that brand communicators want them to produce. Anything that is required to strengthen a brand’s relationship with its audience is crucial in today’s scenario. From things like highly personalised customer interactions to unique e-commerce offerings and transparency about how products are sourced, developed and R&D is deployed, etc. all of them play a strong role in building a stronger relationship with any brand.

In terms of customers’ mindset, the level of trust is biggest when they see someone like themselves, commenting, reviewing, opining and advising on any products or services. They associate and form opinions much easier with such a similar audience connection. Also, visual content is another most important form that the audience loves to use more often. With the abundant presence of mobile camera phones and always-on internet connectivity, the sharing of views, thoughts, reactions, and counter-reactions has become almost instantaneous for the audience.

Videos today prove to be the most effective ways of brand communications and UGC videos work better than brand ambassadors. They offer real-life perspectives to the brands establishing the brands’ credibility to a new high since they highlight the genuineness and integrity of the brands.

Reviews, ratings, Q&As and online polls coupled with analysis of posts on various social media platforms provide a deep insight into the audience and their brand relationships. Customers nowadays are more convinced from consumer-generated content as compared with the content pushed by the brand. Moreover, in the age of digital communications, user-generated content greatly helps the SEO efforts of the brand thereby facilitates in increasing the revenues.

However, UGC as a part of brand communications is also unique and quite different from each brand. One needs to link it with consumer behaviour as per research insights driven by data and get the consumers to produce content fit for the brand

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Praveen Nagda
Praveen Nagda is the CEO of Peregrine Public Relations, a full-service corporate communications and public relations consultancy firm delivering a pan-India reach to its clients. He also heads White Coffee, an independent events & celebrity engagement company.

Praveen has been closely associated with many national and international events related to cinema for children, art and culture. He has a well-rounded experience that cuts across all key sectors of PR & Corporate Communications.

He started his career with URJA Communications, an advertising agency specialising in technology brands, where he was instrumental in developing the PR division. Post this, he had a stint with Horizons Porter Novelli, a global public relations consultancy. Thereafter, he was heading the IT & Telecom division at Clea PR, a leading Indian public relations and communications company followed by a fairly long stint with Omnicom Group agencies viz. TBWA\India and Brodeur India.

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