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How To Manage Your UGC Brand Strategy

There’s no question that user-generated content (UGC) has power. Recommendations and reviews from genuine fans can help brands streamline marketing spend and positively impact conversion (you can read more about the benefits of UGC in our last article).

On the other hand UGC can cause consumers to lose trust in a brand if they feel the content is toxic or fake. A recent survey by TELUS International revealed that:

  • Since the start of the pandemic 54 percent of respondents have witnessed a rise in Misleading UGC.
  • 36 percent reported seeing inaccurate, fake or even toxic UGC multiple times a day.
  • More than 40 percent said a single exposure to toxic or fake UGC would make them leave a brand’s community and 45 percent would lose trust in a brand.
  • The most commonly reported types of fake user-generated content were spam (61 percent) and fake reviews and testimonials (61 percent).

Given how much our lives have shifted online over the past year and a half it’s not surprising that we are seeing more fake content, we simply have more opportunities to come across it. It’s also likely that there’s just more of it now with spammers and fakers on the rise during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Federal Trade Commission reports that consumers lost more than $3.3 billion to fraud in 2020, which was an 83 percent increase on the previous year.

People are understandably feeling more alert. This may explain why 70 percent of consumers in TELUS International’s survey felt brands should take steps to proactively protect their consumers from toxic content. So what can brands do to filter out the fake content, while enabling organic UGC to thrive?

Reactive and Proactive Approaches To UGC

People are always going to recommend products to one another: organic word of mouth is, after all, the oldest form of marketing. It’s going to happen with or without brand involvement. Unfortunately, so is fake user-generated content and spam.

Brands, therefore, need a better vantage point over the UGC reaching and influencing their consumers. This is the only way to find and filter out fake or malicious content and it’s also the only way to measure, track and boost the really great stuff.

The reactive approach is to use social listening tools, combined with community managers and moderators as a way of monitoring and responding to the conversations and content shared online.

This essentially means casting the net wide in the hope of catching brand-related UGC spreading across social networks and forums. In this way, if there is spam or fake content circulating it can be addressed. If there is great quality UGC circulating it can be amplified through brand channels. And if there are negative reviews or critical comments, customer representatives can step in to mediate and resolve.

This 2021 round-up of social listening tools from Socialbakers looks at 15 different options currently on the market.

Of course social listening isn’t a foolproof way to find all the UGC being shared around a brand and it’s going to be even harder to catch when people share videos, images and logos without necessarily including the brand name — although analytics tools, such as Talkwalker, are getting smarter at image recognition to try and bridge this gap.

The proactive approach to managing UGC is to actively incentivize it through dedicated user-generated marketing channels, such as the WOM Protocol and our partner platform, YEAY. At first glance incentivizing UGC, particularly if the incentive is economic, might sound like a recipe for inviting more and not less fake content and spam. This is why it’s essential to design the incentive and the channel in a way that encourages positive and honest behavior, while deterring negative actions. In the case of the WOM Protocol, we have developed checks and balances to protect both the content and the community.

All of the user-generated content submitted to the YEAY app is manually moderated — this happens regardless of whether the creator chooses to earn WOM Token rewards through their content or not. Should a creator wish to earn rewards then they must further submit the content for authentication through a peer review process that takes place on the WOM Authenticator app. Here authenticators assess the quality and authenticity of content before it can be rewarded with tokens, and before they, the authenticators, can also be duly rewarded for their efforts. Everyone, from the creators, to the authenticators, must stake tokens upfront to put skin in the game before participating. Should a creator’s content be found to be inauthentic the creator forfeits their stake. If an authenticator fails to fall into consensus with other authenticators who have rated the content, the authenticator also loses their stake. And should anyone act in a way that breaches the terms and conditions of the WOM and YEAY platforms, such as sharing fake content or spam, then actions, such as account bans, will be taken.

It is only after all of these checks and balances have been completed that quality and authenticated UGC will pass through to the WOM Campaign Manager, where brands can browse through and select content to amplify in marketing campaigns.

Creating A Positive Online Experience

By combining a mix of reactive and proactive methods, brands can take steps to capture fake and malicious UGC, while boosting the supply of quality UGC. As tempting as it might be to simply let user-generated content spread organically without brand involvement, the risks of allowing fake and toxic content to reach consumers and damage their trust just aren’t worth it: while the benefits of creating a positive experience by incentivizing and authenticating genuine UGC are too great to ignore.

See how WOM can help you increase sales with user-generated content

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WOM Protocol

WOM Protocol

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A new blockchain-based MarTech solution that enables brands to leverage authentic word-of-mouth recommendations. Join the conversation: t.me/WOMProtocolChat