Consumer Generated Media (CGM)

CGM or UGM (user generated media) is marketing’s new black.

The key attraction is marketers’ ability to monitor, track and therefore respond “appropriately” to consumer conversations about, and opinions of, their brands.

Throw in blogging as a key influence of opinion and the viral effect of that and hey presto ! you have a powerful medium.

A company’s ability to make decisions can only be enhanced by listening to the moans, groans and praise for their and their competitors’ products and services.

In Estonia we are yet to see CGM really take off but if we look across the pond at the good old US of A we get a glimpse of the future…

Brands ask consumers to help them generate ads -cool, but for how long will they do it (essentially) unrewarded?

And be careful CGM can explode on your face.
Look at GM campaign for the SUV Chevvy Tahoe:

GM asked internet users to make video ads within strict guidelines, but some people took the “ok’d” images and turned them against their owners.

22,000+ ads were created – wow but a huge 16% were negative.

“We anticipated that there would be critical submissions. You do turn over your brand to the public, and we knew that we were going to get some bad with the good. But it’s part of playing in this space.” Chevrolet spokeswoman Melisa Tezanos told the New York Times.

Now this bad CGM is not necessarily outwieghing the positive effect of the good stuff but a company needs to know how to cope with it before going down the CGM dream road.

Just look at what happened to DELL after mishandling Jeff Jarvis . DELL HELL (PDF)!

Oh dear !

DELL were burying their head in the sand about a complaining customer’s valid issues.

No DELL NO ! Listen, engage, react and treat customers like humans…

Max Kalehoff, vice president of marketing for Nielsen BuzzMetrics says :

“Practice common sense ethics. Be a champion of the consumer. You can no longer market a product that sucks. Consumers talk to one another. Search engines are becoming not just ways to find data on the web but powerful enablers or facilitators for passionate information seekers. As a result, it comes down to less tolerance by the consumer. Consumer respect is an emerging theme here. Advertisers need to understand WOM (word of mouth) and the interaction and process and flow surrounding it.”

It seems pretty obvious that person-to-person conversation facilitated and monitored by genuinely caring brands will be the CGM of the future.

CGM WILL be integrated into normal / traditional marketing research and furthermore it will stretch into all areas of marketing, product/service creation, advertising and even sales too.

As I have said many a time: Find out what your customers want and…give it to them. Simple. (Not quite so simple but still the right thing to do)

I leave you today with wise words from Mark Tutssel, worldwide chief creative officer at Leo Burnett ad agency:

“Marketers must learn to let go of the control they think they have over their brand…. Once consumers have interacted with brands they will not go back to being shouted at by marketers.”

Consumer Generated Media is hugely powerful but not something to jump into lightly. Think before you leap, prepare carefully, keep the customers needs and desires uppermost in your mind at all times.

Good luck, get it right, like Converse, AUDI and Cadillac did and you will be very pleased with the results and never look back….

Marketing will never be the same again 🙂

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