User-Generated Content in Healthcare Marketing

User-generated content or UGC, also known as CGM or consumer generated media, is perhaps the most powerful aspect of marketing in social media. You can say that user-generated content is any blog, meme, video, review or comment made by a non-professional individual made to be shared publicly on the internet. Those who wish to strengthen their visibility using social media have to share, engage and repurpose content generated by users responsibly and effectively.

In healthcare marketing the mentioned needs have to be met, but it could get tricky when there is a conflict between confidentiality and regulation in sharing relevant content created by someone else. It is important therefore to explore the effectiveness of user-generated content.

User-Generated Content

The effectiveness of UGC comes from social proof and the psychological nature of trust. In the online world, we are faced with media shared by our friends as well as our interests. These are entities we have selected to follow and trust. Depending on who we are following, the content we see is usually a mixture between sponsored, user-generated or journalistic content. Real content made by an unsponsored source is more reliable, more inviting and more approachable than a real marketing message. The reason is that this content is relatable.

The content is made by an ordinary human being just like you and me and not a corporate persona, therefore, there is no marketing agenda behind the content. The content is also social and in its most natural form. If advertisers and brands share and recycle UGC, they show the relatability to their followers and therefore, incorporate a marketing message because of a positive association which is evoked by shared content. This is, in its essence, the marketing value of a retweet, a revine, a re-pin or a share.

The right use of user-generated content is to leverage the social proof responsible for a certain piece of content. If you find a piece of content online that aligns positively with your social goals like branding, for example, then there’s no reason why you should not share it. This is also the secret behind how social networks function. Of course, you can’t just share anything. User-generated content is owned by the person who made it. With proper use, marketers can easily infringe on the intellectual property or privacy of the creator. This results in legal consequences that are very harsh. So, healthcare marketers, with user-generated content toggle between legal reuse of content and strict compliance regulations.

Sharing user-generated content

If you share user-generated content, transparency is very important. Just like journalism, accurate citing of the source of the content is not just responsible ethics, but can also create trust because of transparency. If you see an image from Pinterest or if you read a good blog from Twitter, do your best to look for the name of the creator and tag him/her/it with your reuse. Using someone else’s content and posting it to be your own, with no attribution can be considered as stealing.

Today, most of the digital content is optimized so that it can be used through social media. You would think that this means that all publicly shared content can be reused. You would be thinking wrong. Experience has taught everybody that just because the content is on the web, it does not mean that it is meant to be shared. Personal content that is shared without consent, even with proper citation, can violate user’s privacy.

If you ever encounter must-share content that needs to be republished on social media, consider the source and possible breach of personal privacy. This applies to confidentiality, that media published regarding recent visitors or past patients that could violate HIPAA  regulations.