While searching for content ideas or information about a particular topic, user-generated content platforms are the go-to source for many people — including content creators. Who doesn’t like to access free content, be it for entertainment or educational purposes?
On YouTube, for example, as of the third quarter of 2020, 62 percent of U.S. users accessed the video platform daily.
People who earn more than $100K per year and are over 18 years old spend 2x more time on Quora than LinkedIn.
It’s evident that most people enjoy user-generated content.
However, it’s debatable whether this content should be trusted or not — and should the platform let users post anything without confirming their authority?
So yes, there are both pros and cons of user-generated content. Let’s have a look at both.
Pros of User Generated Content
Here are some of the pros of user-generated content:
More Content Ideas
If you’re a web content writer, your first — and probably the biggest — challenge is to devise content ideas. Be it a blog post, a youtube video, a podcast, or a LinkedIn post, ideas set the base.
This is where a user-generated continent comes in handy. For instance, if a question has been answered by thousands of people on Quora, chances are more people are searching about it online.
So if you, too, prepare content on the same topic, you have a higher chance of getting more traffic and views.
Great for Website’s SEO
This might feel like a stretch, but user-generated content can boost your rankings on Google. So let’s put it this way, you put customer reviews or videos, or any other form of content on your site — with their consent.
When visitors see real people and content prepared by loyal customers of a brand, they tend to trust the business. Besides that, with more realistic visuals, their dwell time on the site would increase — another important factor for SEO.
Take Burden off Your Shoulder
As a brand, you have to keep looking for new content ideas. The trends keep changing, and what people like today won’t get any attention next month. Depending on your niche, preparing content takes time and effort.
With user-generated content, you get the luxury to simply polish and post the content — with credit to the user. No more worries regarding preparing a lengthy content calendar and hiring multiple teams for content creation.
Cons of User-Generated Content
Don’t let the pros make you feel everything’s perfect with user-generated content. Definitely, there are some cons as well:
The biggest challenge with user-generated content is authenticity. If no sources are provided, one can’t cross-check the facts and ensure that the content producer is an authority in a certain niche.
Take the example of YouTube and Quora; they are full of questions like “ What are the symptoms of XYZ disease,” “What should I do if I feel I have XYZ problem,” legal questions, myths about different cultures and religions, etc.
Hundreds of people answer such questions, and most of the answers are copy-paste paragraphs from Google. This is dangerous when an engineer is advising on a serious medical issue that needs emergency treatment.
They say it’s democracy and everyone has the right to have his say. This might be true on platforms exclusively made for debates and discussions, but not on your blogpost or brand’s website.
You don’t want to turn off visitors due to a negative comment from someone your competitor bribed. Likewise, there are good and bad experiences when shopping online. And certainly, you won’t want bad experiences to be shown in the feedback section.
If you have a blog, some people will inevitably oppose your ideas. This often leads to quarrels and later escalates to personal fights, tarnishing your years-long reputation in seconds.
With user-generated content, legal issues are bound to occur. To avoid them, you will have to verify the content, which is an exhausting task itself.
If you want to post a picture of a happy customer with your product, you would still have to take their permission, or else they can sue you.
So, all in all, at times verifying content or taking permission itself can be as time-consuming and costly as preparing content.
User-generated content has its benefits. You can take ideas and prepare fresh content from them. And to some extent, you can use it on your site as well. But at the end of the day, it’s the fresh ideas and content from scratch that will make your business/website stand out in your industry.