UGC (User Generated Content) has been around as long as the open web has been with us; in fact, UGC predates the web, given that AOL’s huge growth in the 1990s was largely driven by UGC content. Today, UGC — in the form of reviews, ratings, and user comments — massively influences consumer behavior on Amazon, Google, and across the open web and smart brands are making smart use of the channel.
I wanted to catch up with Christina Kay, VP of Marketing at ResellerRatings, to discuss UGC, how it’s evolved over the years, and why it’s so important for merchants to track and, where appropriate, incentivize user ratings and reviews. We discuss how ResellerRatings handles UGC, how it ensures that these ratings are authentic, and the impressive conversion lift that can be obtained when a merchant garners a sufficient number of quality reviews (positive and negative) and other social proof.
We delve into the fear that some merchants and brand marketers have regarding UGC, how this fear can be overcome, and how UGC can serve as a source of genuine community-building for the brand. We converse about how UGC influences buyer behavior differently in B2B and B2C contexts, and also focus on “do’s and don’ts” regarding how merchants should go about obtaining reviews.
We then discuss the “blurred lines” between UGC and influencer marketing, and how these two channels should be distinguished. “In my mind UGC is all organic,” observes Christina. “It’s not like paid. And people are hiring UGC content creators. But in my mind that’s an influencer, because you’re paying them.” We touch on the importance of brands including language in their TOS allowing UGC reviews to be repurposed for marketing purposes, and discuss the value that can come from analyzing UGC content in a way that harnesses this channel’s potential as a real-time “focus group.”
If your brand is using UGC or is thinking about making better use of this powerful channel, this interview has a lot to offer.