User Generated Content (UGC) is defined as content such as posts, videos, images and reviews, developed by someone and shared on a social channel. UGC is content that people can relate to, it is what ultimately makes up social media, it is what people are talking about, good, bad, factual or fiction.
We recently witnessed the social media saga surrounding Cinnamon Toast Crunch, where Jensen Karp claimed to have actual shrimp tails in his cereal box. So naturally what does one do when they have news to share, post it on their social media page. General Mills who owns this brand responded claiming this was not the case and it was clearly impossible this happened at one of their facilities, pretty much discrediting Karp’s claim. Regardless, if the claim was true or not, GM handled the response to this very poorly, causing even more negative on-line chatter for this brand and organization.
UGC can be a great way for a brand or organization to receive advertising, free advertising by individuals, but it is not always the case as we observed with Cinnamon Toast Crunch.
Another example of UGC we saw this year, the #TargetDressChallenge. This is a wholesome example of how a simplistic story on one’s social page went viral and had so much influence on others. Since the original post on January 31, 2021, this post had 27,000 shares, 9,800 comments and 20,000 reactions. These Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s), indicate how powerful user generated content can be. In addition to free media, this story was so popular that it even made local and national news. All of this free media around “the dress that was purchased at Target” was extremely beneficial for Target, dresses sold out at some their stores and stock prices increased. Though Target has not made a public comment about this initiative.
The Cinnamon Toast Crunch saga and #Target Dress Challenge are leading examples of UGC calling attention on social media to brands in two totally different circumstances, however both creating brand awareness.
With the evolution of the digital ecosystem, there is much more opportunity for one to share their thoughts, concerns, likes and dislikes on just about anything, the world is everyone’s oyster as it relates to the digital environment. At any given time, any post can go viral. Brands need to keep this this top of mind at all times and join in on the right conversations to help enhance the user experience. Brands have no control as to what type of content is posted, they only have control on how they react.