User generated content (UGC) is a buzz phrase that has our industry all atwitter. Mostly, marketing communications processionals are scrambling to harness the power of UGC for to move product. But here’s the thing: the consumers we’re targeting with UGC — X, Y & Millennials — aren’t buying. They’re sharing, and learning and building relationships online. Mostly with other online-people and sometimes with brands.
CurrentMarketing has always been a technologically forward-thinking company and we have long included email blasts, websites and seasonal web content as a part of our clients’ marketing mix. Cue it up…pull the trigger…next! It became a parallel function — in timing and execution — to the traditional media it reinforced or replaced.
But UGC is more of a slow cooker than a microwave. It takes time, thought and coordination. Mostly time. Reggie Bradford points out in a recent post that UGC and other social media builds long-term assets, requiring persistence, along with appropriate integration with a brand’s traditional promotional calendar. It must be nurtured and cared for.
There are some who define a “brand” as the consumer’s relationship with a product or service. UGC builds that relationship stronger and deeper than any award-winning campaign. I haven’t seen the proof that it’s enough all by itself.
So while traditional media like broadcast and print — and nowinteractive media like podcasts, SMS text programss, and blogs — may still have a place in the marketing mix, social networking also need to be integrated into promotions and brand building formerly entrusted these media.