How to Sell Your Boss on User-Generated Content

We all know that content is king. However, we often forget that we don’t have to do all the work ourselves. Content created by customers, such as reviews and blog posts, can be just as valuable as the content your company generates. In fact, according to Media Research Specialists, Ipsos MediaCT and Crowdtap, millenials report that information received through a user-generated content platform is trusted 50% more than regular media sources (i.e. TV ads). With this in mind, a user-generated content platform makes a lot of sense… right?

Unfortunately, not everyone sees the benefits of user-generated content. And if you were to bring it up to your boss, you might get a little bit of pushback. Here are some of the most common issues your boss might have with a user-generated content platform, as well as some facts you can present as counter-arguments.

Potential Negative Comments

In life, we’re trained to take the good with the bad. But in business, many owners only want to hear glowing feedback. In a user-generated content platform, there’s potential for negative feedback, which in theory could turn other prospects away from your company. Well, don’t break out in a cold sweat just yet, and here’s why.

The thing is, negative feedback doesn’t have to stay negative. In fact, studies have shown that nearly 60 percent of customers who received a response to negative feedback left those customers feeling better about the company than they felt before they had reason to complain. Additionally, half of those customers opted in for further updates from the company. That’s turning a minor negative into a major positive.

Let’s use Spirit Airlines “State of the Hate” report as an example. This summer the low-cost airline invited nearly 30,000 travelers to participate in a survey and unleash the hate on all airlines, including their own. The findings? People really hate flying. They also learned that they are not the only airline people are unhappy with. They hope their “Hug the Haters” campaign will re-educate their customers on how their a-la-carte sales method is different and all the ways it can help you save dough. Surprisingly, its fee-crazed business model is working; Spirit’s adjusted net income for the quarter is up 28% year-over-year while total revenue is up 14%.

If your boss still isn’t convinced, remind her that people will still have negative opinions about your company whether you have a user-generated content platform or not. However, encouraging them to voice their opinions gives you the chance to make things right. Which is crucial, because above all else, customers hate being ignored.


Tracking is perhaps the most important part of any marketing campaign, and your boss is right to be concerned about his or her ability to track the user-generated content that’s posted on your platform. The good news is that tracking user content isn’t all that different from the way you track your other content platforms.

Conventional metrics such as shares, likes and email list signups still work with user-generated content. But you can now go so much deeper. Using specific hashtags, URLs and promo codes for your user-generated content will show just how much engagement your efforts are creating. Travelocity rolled out one of the most successful social media campaigns using hashtags in 2014. By creating and tracking the #IWannaGo campaign they were able to see that social impressions increased 23% in just three months from the entire year before.

Now, you won’t be able to track every single benefit you’ll derive from user-generated content. That doesn’t mean you should ignore the impact it can still have. Show your boss some entries from the Starbucks White Cup Contest and explain how it made an already strong social media presence even more prominent. After holding the contest Starbucks not only increased their social reach, but was able to gather an abundance of visual content to use on their website and social channels. Not entirely measurable, but still incredibly valuable.

Why Now?

When a boss hears an idea that he or she doesn’t find particularly interesting, they often try to delay the conversation as long as possible. However, the time to embrace this user-generated content platform concept is right now, and it’s up to you to get that message across. There are so many reasons why user-generated content is a huge deal right now. Here are a few ideas you can use to convince your manager that this is a conversation that can’t wait.

  • Customers trust social media more than advertising. In fact, consumer reviews are significantly more trusted – nearly 12 times more (Source: Bazaar Voice) Positive user engagement needs to happen now, not later if you want to stay in the minds of your customers.
  • Customers have the power to send messages to thousands of people and 17% of users have bought something based on a friend’s social media post about it (Source: Forrester). Better to get people involved, sending out a positive message instead of a negative one.
  • Ignoring users opens the door for someone else to step in and take away their business.
  • Many companies — including heavy hitters such as Sony, Disney and Budweiser — have already embraced user-generated content and use it regularly. You can’t afford to get left behind, and you definitely can’t risk being seen as merely copying your competition.
  • User-generated content lends itself to all of the core values every marketer wants – engagement, sharing, and conversion. It’s a no brainer to get in on this platform, and to get in on it immediately.
  • Chick-fil-A, AT&T and Applebees are all examples of social media gone horribly wrong. At worst these blunders actually impacted the company’s bottom line, at best they created a PR nightmare. Using a user-generated content platform not only allows you to collect and share all the great things about your company, but can actually help you control backlash in times of a social media crisis. It’s important to have a forum for customers to share their voice, so you can avoid the above scenarios.

As with any new marketing initiative, it’s important to have all your bases covered when you’re ready to share it with the big guy upstairs. Come prepared and the impact that customer storytelling could have on your organization should be clear.

Looking for more ammunition? Read the Ultimate Guide to Customer Storytelling to

learn everything you need to know about the power of user-generated content.