In the world of social media, all branding professionals need to understand the difference between what is called user generated content (UGC) and employee generated content (EGC). There are lessons to be learned from both, as there are best practices to be shared.
The first, UGC, is simply allowing and encouraging your customers, clients or users of your brand to speak freely of their experience with your brand. Usually, there is an entertainment value to this type of communications, creating content that resonates well with the audience, allowing them to easily share, contribute or comment in various types of online mediums e.g. videos, tweets, instagrams, etc. (Miyaki 2013). The risk with UGC is that there is less control, as users can disseminate positive or negative news – they can be your advocates one day and your opposition another.
The second, EGC, is a much more secure and reliable type of communications, as employees are or should be the true ambassadors or disciples of your brand. In other words, they live and breathe your brand (Miyaki 2013). In this area, the communications is deemed effective if it is considered to be authentic. The company needs to walk the talk. It cannot pretend, especially in the long run, to represent certain values – if it does, it will be perceived as farcical and the employees will not communicate willingly about your brand. This type of communications is extremely effective if, and only if, there are guidelines on what the employees can be encouraged to say and if the company has strong values to which it lives by.
There are many great examples of UGC, like the Doritos Bowl, where audiences where encouraged to create their own commercials, or the Disney memories campaign, that asked people to share their best Disney experiences. In the EGC arena, there is one best practice from the Deloitte Film Festival that encouraged employees to create short movies of what it was like to work at the auditing & accounting firm, from a humorous and light perspective (Miyaki 2013).
To set up a successful EGC program, make sure you follow some basic recommendations – have a captain steer the ship, establish a team, sett the guidelines, coach and support, empower, recognize and reward (Zwas 2012). These are some simple guidelines that may help employers create an effective EGC program.
Moreover, there is a third type that should be considered – candidate generated content (CGC). How do potential hires experience the recruitment process? What happens if someone doesn’t get a position? Or if he or she considers you, but hears negative things from peers and changes his mind? CGC is becoming more common with the advent of social media and that is why companies need to ensure that the candidate experience is a good one – prospective hires should get good feedback, meet competent staff members who give good impressions, the whole recruitment process should be smooth and professional, etc. Candidates will also talk about your brand, so ensure that you interact with them in a good way.
Companies cannot ignore or prevent communications from happening in the digital world. As Searn Dodson, in his article “Creative accounting”, rightly points out: “unless corporations open up to the potential of social media their employees will do so anyway, and they will do so without any safeguards or control”. It’s thus time for companies to learn how to be transparent and embrace the true potential of today’s communication era. In short, it’s best that companies take part in and lead discussions rather than let gossip and rumours overshadow their credibility.
Dodson, Sean. Creative accounting. The Guardian. [Online] Available from: http://www.theguardian.com/enterprise/ugc [Accessed: 26 August 2013]
Miyaki, Russell (2013). UGC vs EGC. They are different. And they are the same. Meshworking. [Online] Available from: http://www.meshworking.com/home/2013/8/5/ugc-vs-egc-they-are-different-and-they-are-the-same.html [Accessed: 26 August 2013]
Zwas, Aaron (2012).The Power of EGC: Employee Generated Content. DMW Industry Analysis. [Online] Available from: http://blog.digitalmarketingworks.com/2012/07/power-of-egc-employee-generated-content.html [Accessed: 26 August 2013].