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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.

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