A central premise of the user-generated nation is that advertisers and marketers have lost control of brand perception. Indeed, consumers have grabbed the microphone of the marketplace, and they’re not inclined to hand it back to advertisers.
Actually, it’s worse than that. Consumers, once confined to making their presence felt at the end of the value chain via purchase decisions, have become assertive usersumers whose actions (posting ratings & reviews, blogs, discussion-forum opinions and so forth) exert considerable influence every step of the way.
Should marketers simply throw up their hands in response?
Of course not. The challenge for advertisers and marketers is to embrace change, as uncomfortable as it may be.
Control is no longer an option — but understanding the implications of user-generated content and acting intelligently on the new reality will give marketers a distinct competitive advantage. Remember, no one wins when all things are equal — often as not, companies climb to the top by ferreting out and leveraging inequities in the marketplace.
User-generated content cannot be “controlled” in the classic sense. But it can be a surprisingly effective marketing tool — especially if you know how to gain advantage from it but your competitor does not.