UGC requires an accord of creator and user to work

Damian Thompson

User-generated content (UGC) has been embraced as part of the marketing mix by some of the world's biggest brands, including McDonald's, Coca-Cola and General Motors.

UGC drives word-of-mouth, helping to enlist consumers as online spokespeople or customer service representatives for a brand. It also gives consumers a role in generating product development, advertising and communication ideas.

But it is not necessarily right for every brand, and some firms will harness its power in very different ways from others. So how do brand managers know when to place their product in the public's hands, and when they would be well-advised to keep content generation firmly in-house?

In a study by Brainjuicer, MEC talked to 16-to-35-year-old broadband users from 22 countries to understand their motivations for engaging with three types of UGC that brands use: voting or rating; sharing thoughts and opinions; and making content (such as videos and music).