Whether it’s social media shares from micro-influencers, in-depth articles from bloggers, or even a simple review from everyday customers — user generated content has grown in popularity to become a fixture in marketing strategies for many brands.
User-generated content (UGC) is a powerful way to share your brand, giving valuable insight into the customer experience. So much so, that 85% of customers say they prefer UGC more than branded content.
But with the ease and accessibility for customers to create and share content, brands have less control over messaging. And just one unfavorable tweet can cause major damage to a reputation.
Because of this, content moderation is an essential part of any UGC campaign.
In this article, we’ll dive into content moderation — covering what you need to consider when using user generated content, and how to implement content moderation as part of your overall marketing strategy.
What is user generated content?
User generated content (UGC) is any content that your users create and share organically.
This content includes posts, tweets & hashtags, images, videos, blogs and reviews, typically shared via social media.
Brands are able to promote this content on their own social media channels, as well as on their website and in other marketing materials. This is a great way for brands to publish unique, high-quality content, especially if they are lacking the resources to create this content in-house.
And as we mentioned above, it’s also a highly-effective social proof strategy.
UGC is seen as authentic and trustworthy. It gives a boost of credibility to brands and their products, with customer content being a stamp-of-approval. After all, most customers wouldn’t share if they weren’t happy.
Types of user generated content
There’s several ways your brand can encourage user generated content, and use it as part of your overall marketing. Below are some of the most commonly used types of UGC.
Customer reviews are one of the most impactful, and arguably the most important, types of UGC. In fact, 90% of potential customers read online reviews before they move forward with a business.
This content can be part of product pages and displayed in advertisements, such as 5-star ratings or “Top Rated” product features. Beyond your site, this content on 3rd party review sites like Google, Yelp, TrustPilot builds brand credibility and awareness, and can help with SEO efforts.
Testimonials give a first-hand account of the customer experience. Feature testimonials on your homepage and as part of marketing campaigns, such as in a customer video series. To further credibility and visibility, reach out to well-known, recognizable brands to contribute.
Social Media Posts
Social media is a primary channel for creating and sharing UGC. This can range from any brands actively responding to & reposting customer content — to more elaborate efforts such as contests, challenges, and branded hashtags.
Feature UGC on your website with a dedicated section. For example, furniture company MADE asks customers to submit content for their site with the message “Share your home #goals and use #MADEdesign and @madedotcom to appear on our site.”
Success Stories & Case Studies
Customer stories are more in-depth, typically featured in blogs or resource sections. This content shows realistic situations and practical use cases by real customers. Collaborate with your customer support team to partner with customers for this content.
Affiliate & Referral Promotions
Incentivize UGC through affiliate marketing & referral programs. Affiliates create content around your brand, and use referral links alongside to direct audiences to your site. In exchange for their promotion, customers earn a commission for every successful referral — this is typically for when their referrals end up making a purchase or signing up for a service.
Implementing Content Moderation for UGC
Content moderation involves screening and filtering user generated content as it relates to your brand.
There’s a lot (and we mean a lot) of content out there — content moderation ensures that what is being uploaded and shared is not only appropriate, but also aligns with marketing goals.
Here’s what you should consider as you get started.
Set General Rules
For starters, set out a policy with rules for what your business allows and what you don’t.
Address any content that is inappropriate. This includes harmful or offensive photos and videos, such as nudity or violence, with other considerations being topics like bullying, brand bashing, etc.
Additionally, include any spam content that would devalue the credibility of the brand and clutter the site’s comment and review sections.
Keep in mind that it does not necessarily mean negative content, such as bad reviews or customer complaints. Deleting this content could hurt your credibility and relationship with customers. Instead, look at these comments as useful feedback and an opportunity to provide excellent customer service.
Establish A Submission Process
The submission process for UGC is directly tied to content moderation.
Who can submit? What can you submit? How do you submit?
Generally speaking, there are 3 different approaches to submissions: pre-moderation, post-moderation, reactive moderation.
Screen any submissions before publishing. When a user submits content, include a message like “Your Post Has Been Submitted For Review”.
Post submissions in real time, and monitor on a regular basis.
Post submissions in real time, and only review if other users flag or voice concern over the content.
How you moderate submissions will depend on your brand, and the resources available. Some have the resources to screen every submission, while others might not have the man-power and can only screen after posting.
Moderating content submissions can be tricky when it comes to content on social media, given that anyone can post virtually anything they’d like, as long as it adheres to the social media platform’s rules. We’ll discuss how to limit this risk more in-depth later on.
Consider Limitations & Restrictions
Along with the submission process, you can use limitations and restrictions as a way to moderate content.
On your own website, this could be requiring users to have an account and log in to post. It could also include limiting users who do not have a history with your site, and then easing these restrictions as they build trust and credibility later on.
If it is content on other platforms, like social media or an affiliate program, set account preferences to limit who can post. For example, on Instagram you can accept or decline tagging in user photos. Or, make your affiliate program invite-only instead of available to everyone.
Have Clear Branding Guidelines
With clear branding guidelines, there’s little room for confusion for users.
Branding is more than just your logo, it’s an all-encompassing voice that tells your brand’s story and gives your brand a distinct personality.
Using Selz’s Brand Voice Template as guide, consider the following:
Imagery: Logo Kit Color Palette, Brand Photos, Graphics
Text: Brand Message, Taglines, Elevator pitch
Style: Spelling & Usage, Tone & Style, Terminology, Specific Product References
Additionally, if you are running specific campaigns or contests, particularly on social media, consider incorporating it to your branding guidelines.
For example, when using a branded hashtag be clear on the spelling, including capitalization. This is important as it will only be effective if it is consistent throughout all campaigns, as well as becoming recognizable to users.
Align Marketing Goals & the Customer Experience
The intent of UGC is to further promote your brand, so it is important to include your marketing goals as part of your content moderation. This means finding ways to get the most out of UGC, as well as making it a great customer experience in the process.
Make submitting UGC easy and straightforward. This includes:
- Making available permissions & rights agreements readily available
- Being transparent about how your business will use content
- Listing submission deadlines, rules and other guidelines
- Having a strong CTA for submitting
- Including contact information
You’ll also want to encourage users to submit content that is both high quality and on-message with your branding. Some ways to do this include:
- Clearly stating what you expect from your users to share
- Providing examples from other submissions
- Use branded hashtags that are consistent across social media, website and other promotional materials
Then, think about the ways to reward and incentivize user submissions. This can include:
- Feature on your website
- Social media shout-out
- Free gifts & giveaways
- Insider access to products, features or sales
- Promotional Discount
- Affiliate & Referral Commissions
Regularly Monitor Pages with UGC
Even with all the safe-guards in place, it’s necessary to still regularly monitor UGC.
Some brands choose to do this in-house, manually. While others choose to outsource the work with third-party tools and plug-ins. Additionally, as more content comes in you can look to use AI to detect violations and filter the content accordingly.
But most importantly, content moderation should become a routine step in any UGC-driven marketing campaigns. Not only does this protect your brand’s reputation, but also allows you to encourage great customer content that can help your brand grow.