The Pros of User-Generated Content and Avoiding the Cons

Ronan Mahony


October 9, 2017 (Updated: January 23, 2024)

woman sitting in front of a camera creating user-generated content

YouTube is perhaps the largest example of a platform that thrives on user-generated content. Currently, there are over 51 million YouTube channels developing content for their own target audience. YouTube succeeds by putting user-generated content at the heart of its business plan. But it’s reasonable to wonder how this content can fit into a normal content marketing strategy. In other words, how can your business benefit from user-generated content? We’re answering this question with topics like:

What Is User-Generated Content?

Image via Flickr by sevenatoms1

User-generated content is any form of content, such as videos, images, or comments, created by a platform’s users for an online system or service. For the example of YouTube, users can create videos that they share on the site where people can publically view them. But there are other platforms too, like Instagram, that allow people to share pictures, videos, and other visuals they create with their followers.

Using User-Generated Content in Your Marketing

There are a lot of ways that you can incorporate user-generated content into your marketing efforts. The easiest way to start is by looking for people who post about your brand and the products or services you offer. If they’re raving about what your products did for them or they’re telling the world about a positive experience they had with your business, that’s a great piece of content you can share on your own platforms.

But user-generated content doesn’t have to stop with mentions of your brand. You can also share content that’s relevant to your business. That might include content that shares similar values or content that pairs well with your industry. But whenever you find content you want to share, it’s always important to talk with the content’s creator first and ask for permission. This can help limit any legal risks, but it also allows your brand to continue building relationships with its target audience.

Cons of User-Generated Content

Here are some of the negatives you might run into with user-generated content and how to avoid them:

Negative Content

It’s almost guaranteed that user-generated content eventually leads to some negative perceptions of a company appearing online. People aren’t always predictable, and not everyone will like what you say or sell on your website. Brands must be aware of the fact that user-generated content might result in negative feedback, which is visible to all potential customers. Of course, moderation efforts can prevent such negative feedback from showing up on your site. However, this presents a dilemma, because censoring perfectly valid feedback just because it is negative can quickly backfire on businesses.

Instead, it’s good to use negative feedback as an opportunity to connect with your target audience. If someone leaves a bad review for your product or service on social media, respond to it. Ask them what your brand could do better and how you could improve the goods you sell. This helps show other potential customers that your brand cares about their well-being and strives to improve itself.

Legal Issues

It’s important to note the relevant legal issues that come with user-generated content. For example, consider a social media user-generated content campaign that encourages people to upload images of themselves using your product or service in some way. Such content belongs to the person who uploaded it, and you need their express permission if you want to share other people’s content on your business’s social media pages. At the very least, you need to provide direct attribution that makes it clear the content does not belong to you.

The best way to counteract any legal issues is to talk with your company’s legal team. Make sure that you’re following all the rules when you share someone’s post or content and that you’re legally protected against any future action. If you’re running a contest that involves user-generated content, ask your legal team for help drafting the contest policy users have to agree to before entering.

Pros of User-Generated Content

The following are some of the main benefits you can get from user-generated content:

Save Time and Money

Producing compelling content consistently doesn’t only present challenges in generating ideas. The simple fact is that it takes time to create content, and time is money. User-generated content essentially allows you to outsource a lot of your content creation to users, which saves both time and money for your business.

Improved Reach and Engagement

User-generated content doesn’t have to take a “set and forget” approach whereby you allow users to write comments on your blog posts or upload images to your site. You can run active user-generated content campaigns on social media that often result in dramatic improvements in both reach and engagement. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are all areas in which you can implement a user-generated content campaign. For example, you can create specific hashtags for users on Instagram related to your product or service. Every time users upload content with your hashtag, they drive engagement with your brand.

Read more: Everything You Need To Know About Engagement Rates

SEO Benefits

SEO can prove tricky to understand, but it makes sense that a really detailed product review from a user might drive traffic to a website. Product or service reviews are often keyword-rich, meaning they contain the keywords and phrases businesses try to rank for. Multiply the value of one keyword-rich review by potentially hundreds of pages, and you quickly have a clear idea of why user-generated content is so useful for driving traffic to a website.

Better still, certain optimization tweaks can drive even more traffic. By structuring your site according to standards, all search engines can offer more relevant content-rich results, such as aggregated star ratings for a product, page, or service. Otherwise known as rich snippets, these user-centric results can boost click-through rates from search engine results pages by up to 30 percent.

Read more: A Beginner’s Guide to SEO

Increased Dwell Time

Dwell time, also known as time on page, is an important SEO metric that measures the length of time people spend on your website after finding it on the search engine results page. The key distinguishing aspect of dwell time is that when visitors leave, they return to search engines. Ideally, you want users to stay as long as possible on your site and increase the time they spend in your branded environment.

It’s not a stretch to say that the more time people spend on your site, the more likely they are to remember your business when making a purchasing decision. Allowing user-generated content in the form of images, comments, or reviews can increase website dwell time by encouraging people to express their thoughts on what you say, do, or sell.

Improve Trust

One of the first places people look when deciding to buy a product is not the product description, but rather the customer reviews about that product. As the statistics show, people deem such reviews more trustworthy and perhaps more representative of actual product quality.

Reduce Your Content Burden

Creating great content continuously on any subject is a huge challenge for content marketers. The internet contains such a vast library of information that it’s difficult to come up with ways of producing new, compelling content. However, user-generated content reduces the burden on businesses to produce it. Something as simple as a user review can provide detailed insights into your product or service, and the great thing is that this type of content is evergreen.

But that doesn’t mean your content burden is gone. You should always look for more ways to develop and create content for your site that captures your audience’s attention and builds leads. However, you don’t have to do it alone. CopyPress offers a wide range of content writing services to help businesses create compelling content for any industry, no matter the niche. Our team of creatives can develop blogs, articles, eBooks, and more that fit your brand’s tone and style. Schedule a free strategy call with us today to see how we can help reduce your content burden even further.

Author Image - Ronan Mahony
Ronan Mahony

CopyPress writer

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