User-generated content takeover

The subject of user-generated content (UGC) brings to mind the Robert Heinlein quote: “There’s no such thing as a free lunch”. At best UGC is a twin-edged sword, as illustrated by this story.

Still, it is flavour of the month and some people believe it’s possible to harness its undoubted potential. Adobe has just acquired content curation service Livefyre, which the software company intends to absorb into its Adobe Marketing Cloud stack.

The deal will allow Adobe to offer Livefyre’s millions of images, video and articles. Aseem Chandra, vice president, Adobe Experience Manager and Adobe Target, said: “With this acquisition, our customers will be able to unify the best social media content with branded experiences created in Adobe Creative Cloud and community-driven content in Adobe Behance and Adobe Stock.”

At the same time, ‘research’ has emerged from content curation software provider Bazaarvoice that user-generated content can add value to a brand’s online proposition.

Putting aside the potential conflict of interest that comes with companies putting out research about their own markets, let’s look at the arguments in favour of user-generated content. It seems online conversions went up by 75 per cent on brand websites when using UGC.

Here is a quote about the research from Adweek’s Social Times blog:

Fifty-seven per cent of retailers and 61 per cent of brands are using CGC in social media. While 27 per cent and 2 per cent, respectively, are using it for print.

It goes on to state that visual media are growing in importance. Bazaarvoice’s Curations tool processed 4.7 times more photos in 2015 than in 2014, and 4.5 times more video.

The report itself makes a number of recommendations. Primarily, these include ways to allow consumers to add content to your site. For example, include a comment box so they can append their own stories. Hmm…

Should you do this? One can imagine some brands – such as GoPro – would think it is a good idea while others would run a mile, such as Coca-Cola or McDonald’s. These are extreme examples, but maybe more resource will end up going into policing what people are putting on the site than producing actual content marketing.

Yes, UGC can work for you. But in echo of the early struggles faced by brands on social media, it is a difficult beast to tame.

User-generated content takeover is part of Content24, the blog for London content marketing agency FirstWord.