Sunday, October 3, 2010

Letting Go Of The Reins

User Generated Content can be be scary but with risk comes a lot of potential reward. One of the things covered in Chapter 5: "Want control? Give it away," are some of the ways that companies have tried to control user generated content from simply being prepared for the negative along with the good to tailoring contest and campaigns to make them more appealing to the real targeted audience instead of the semi professional videographer. There are contests where people are post straight to online communities and ones where the organization is acting as a middleman sifting through all the submissions in-house. So the question remains: As marketers how much can you control user generated content? And how much should you?


  1. I think the key is to have an excellent product and provide excellent customer service. This is the best recipe for any sustainable business and as a side effect it will reduce the risk for negative user feedback. However, if there is user generated content, I'd recommend watching it closely and not leave any question unanswered.

  2. I agree. I think that Mathieson's example (discussed in Spencer's previous posting) of the "gas-guzzling, road-hogging, global warming-causing ride, buy a Tahoe" user customized ad is reason enough for every company to apply some sort of review process. Bottom line - no matter how great your product or service you'll never be able to please everyone. Left unchecked handing the keys to the consumer can and will be dangerous.

  3. In general, you can't control user-generated content any more than you can control speech, blogging or any other form of communication.

    Specific to these contests in which UGC is solicited, you can take as much or as little control as you like - just be clear about it up front. If anything goes, make that clear. If you're only showing the "top 20" or some other filtered set, make that clear.

    I also like Sandra's recommendation: watch participation and conversation closely and don't leave any questions unanswered.

  4. UGC opens up a brand to any type of praise or criticism. It does seem fair for a company to censor or screen some of the UGC; however, criticisms that are within reason should be addressed and not ignored. Nothing looks as bad as when a company attempts to cover up or deflect criticism. If you truly have a great product then you should not be worried about what people may say. When an organization decides to use UGC it needs to understand and prepare itself to address the criticism it may receive.