UGC: What, Who and Why?

  1. So what exactly is User Generated Content?

UGC is a term that is used so widely, yet it is not always defined. The OECD (Organisation for Economic Development and Co-operation) defines UGC as:

“i) content made publicly over the internet

ii) which reflects a certain amount of creative effort, and

iii) which is created outside of professional routines and practices.”

2. Who is creating this content?

Forrester Research’s Social Technographics Report 2011 is cited as one of the most comprehensive insights into who is creating UGC.

They have divided users into 7 segments. I have also listed the % of people from the EU assigned to each segment (you will notice that people can belong to more than one segment):

  • Creators (upload video they have created, blog, write articles and upload, produce music and upload) 23%
  • Conversationalists (update status on networking sites, tweet) 26%
  • Critics (post ratings or comments on other people’s sites, contribute to forums) 33%
  • Collectors (use RSS feeds, add tags to websites) 22%
  • Joiners (maintain profile on social networking sites, visit social networking sites) 50%
  • Spectators (read blogs, listen to podcasts, watch videos from other users, read online forums, read customer ratings, read tweets). 69%
  • Inactives (none of the above) 21%

There is of course an age distinction here. It will not surprise you to learn that the age range most likely to be creators are below the age of 30.

3. Why create content – what motivates people?

  1. Self expression. New online platforms provide an opportunity to self-advertise, create an online personality and brand, record experiences and to connect for free. This desire is also driven by a changed attitude towards privacy and also cheaper technology to enable postings and creation of content.
  2. Prosumption. Defined as “people who produce some of the goods and services entering their own consumption.” For example customizing clothes, following Jamie’s 30 minute cookbook etc, these people can also be called avid hobbyists , they want to participate, create and gain personal satisfaction for their endeavours.
  3. Enjoyment.
  4. Passing the time.
  5. Information dissemination.
  6. Desire for contact and connect to new communities – online tribalism.

If you would like more information about this section check out ‘User Generated Branding’ by Ulrike Arnhold

4. So how do you stimulate and accelerate the creation of UGC?

  • Don’t treat all users in the same way. If you want users to contribute to product creation or to develop new services understand that a response from your users may not be as enthusiastic or as forthcoming as you had hoped. Also their ideas will be just that, your in house team or agency will be able to use these to kick start campaign ideas, however it is unlikely that you will receive a polished final idea from your fan base (although user generated advertising has worked well in a number of campaigns). Petavy, Cere and Roth from eYaka have identified three sectors of online consumers:

i) Creators: the scarcest consumer who have skills, knowledge and desire  to create content. This group are like creative directors in a brand agency who can provide innovative and creative ideas.

ii) Passionate consumers or brand enthusiasts. These may be part of a fan club and will discuss ideas. This group will discuss and refine the ideas from the creators.

iii) Regular consumers or spectators. This group do not feel especially attached to a brand. At best this group would be part of a focus group.

  • Do not expect users to create for you in return for an iPad. It can be disheartening if you have a large number of fans on your social networks and you do not receive the response that you had hoped for. There may be some ways to prevent this from happening. A great report from Havas Media addresses these concerns by what they term as user manipulated content:

i)Research: use qualitative and quantitative methods to understand how users feel about your brand. Are they content creators or passionate consumers?

ii)Provide them with the tools to help you. Give them a stimulus and reduce barriers to participation.

iii) Rewards: what would really motivate them? A former colleague was motivated to design a poster for Doritos. The prize was £500, however more importantly it was used as part of their online campaign which raised her profile as a graphic designer.

  • Supporting your fans to become brand ambassadors. This is being tested by Ford and Puma.  Puma have launched a campaign where they are paying fans to take photos of themselves performing physical tasks to use in one of their campaigns. They are using Foap, an iPhone app that lets you take a photo and upload it to sell for cash. Ford has recently launched a campaign whereby users will create one year’s worth of advertising. This will be their first entirely user generated campaign. In order for these campaigns to work users have been given as much support as possible to produce content, with few barriers to participation.

I hope you liked this post. If you are interested in engaging your users to create video content for your brand please drop me a line.



  • No comments yet. Be the first.

Post a comment