User-generated Content: 5 “Contexts” to Consider Before Launching Your Next Campaign

The Internet is filled with examples of brands brilliantly engaging with consumers and fans to co-create waves of exciting content and conversations that drive trust and sales. The Internet is also filled with examples of brand campaign calamities completely derailed by user-generated content (UGC). As a communicator, are there steps you can take to protect yourself (and your client) from these reputation-altering brand fails? The answer: Yes! Here are five simple contexts to consider before planning your next UGC campaign…

user generated content campaigns

1. The Brand Context:
Are there recurring problem areas in your company that your customers, or other wide-ranging and interested groups, would be happy to call you out on?

2. The Current Context:
Are there current events or topics with news value (read: powerful memes) that can be linked back to your campaign content in a damaging way?

3. The Stakeholder Context:
Is your campaign of interest to stakeholder groups beyond your target audience? Stakeholders unfamiliar with your brand and, thus, are unpredictable in gauging how they might react.

4. The Hashtag Context:
Have you performed a hashtag audit? Have they ever been used? If so, how? Does your campaign redefine the hashtag from its original intent to an unintended (or unwanted) meaning or use? Can it be easily and deliberately mispronounced/misspelled and, in turn, derailed by a social media community who never turns down a good joke at the expense of a brand?

5. The Creative Context:
Have you considered that, if your campaign has mass viral potential, creative minds across platforms may look to take on (or hijack) your ideas and bask in the afterglow of your social renown? While this could work to your advantage, it also means wild unpredictability in that the content that will emerge beyond what survived internal approvals.

Have you answered these questions honestly? If so, then consider the next two steps…

Step 1: Predictive Community Management (PCM):
Put yourself in your audience’s shoes. Imagine how they might react. Use those insights to play through various scenarios. Use your smartest editors and community managers to provide clever and authentic answers to every question that has arisen during scenario planning. If necessary, adapt your campaign based on these newly-gained insights in order to minimize social media fail risk. Our Ketchum Germany team recently won a 2019 Digital Communications Award for applying this PCM model for a prominent client in the region.

Step 2: Stick With It:
You deliberately chose this campaign, hopefully based on data-driven insights and consumer personas, so stick with it! Nothing is more deflating than rowing back at the first and slightest sign of a headwind—the perception is an admission of failure and public denigration of what’s probably a great idea. Attitude is everything here, row confidently into that campaign headwind… until it’s time to stop rowing and reevaluate. If you’ve gone too far, a proactive and public apology is appropriate, and occasionally necessary to regain trust. Before a campaign ever begins, make sure you define what red line can’t be crossed before you consider rowing back—and ensure all relevant internal stakeholders are fully aligned on what that red line is to avoid being forced to pull your campaign because of office politics.

Interested in learning more about how predictive community management can save your company from the next great brand fail? Connect with me here!