What is user-generated content and what isn’t?

October 5, 2007 at 4:19 am | Posted in Definition | 9 Comments

This is what Wikipedia says as of 10/5/2007 5:38pm:

User generated content (UGC), also known as Consumer Generated Media (CGM) [1] or User created Content (UCC) [2], refers to various kinds of media content that are produced by end-users, (as opposed to traditional media producers such as professional writers, publishers, journalists, licensed broadcasters and production companies).

Various kinds of media? What does that include and what does it exclude? Is a high school play UGC? Why or why not?

Why are end-users the opposition of traditional media producers? What happens when a professional journalist blogs? Or when people make money blogging full time? How are they different than professionals? Are they doing UGC?



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  1. I think the idea of User Generated Content has emerged because traditional content has not been meeting the needs of the general population at large. Thus, the idea is that the more that the general population or “end users” can help generate their own content, the more likely the needs or wants of the whole in terms of content can be achieved.

    My perception is that UGC is purely digital. If not, then the only truly relevant UGC is digital. You could also argue that the term UGC is used primarily in the digital world because it is the ideal environment for collaboration which has become essential for quality UGC.

    The trickiest part about UGC is that the mediums and ways for collaboration are continuing evolving. Being able to maintain a technological edge, in order to be at the forefront for maximizing the quality of collaboration and thus UGC, is essential.

  2. I was reading an old (Nov 2005) post on Scobelizer (http://scobleizer.com/2005/11/10/i-dont-use-the-internet-so-why-am-i-a-user/) about UCG terminology and the replies included a lot of the terms we are still tossing around: amateur-, participant-, community-, agent-generated content…

    However, I thought this comment was particularly interesting:

    “…the whole phrase “user generated content” is smoke for the real verbs that should be used for content. It’s “contributed content”, “attributed content”, and “stolen content”, right? The phrase is used to hide what the actual “user” is doing with your stuff.”

    This an interesting angle. The post suggests that instead of trying to define the content generator, we define how the content is being used. However, I don’t think this definition by itself works either, as content could fit into all three groups depending on what the consumer is doing with the content.

    It does bring an interesting aspect to the question of how to define UGC though – maybe terminology that incorporates both the actions of the generator and the consumer is needed.

  3. From an advertising perspective (I work for an advertising agency), we tend to view UGC on the most basic level as “cutting out the middle man.” It is called “user” generated or “consumer” generated because we are specifically referring to the user or consumer of a specific product or service who is creating the content.

    So, for organizations and businesses that are in need of content and would traditionally purchase it from a 3rd-party vendor – whether this is an advertising agency, a publishing house, a stock library, a music studio, etc. – UGC instead allows them to engage their core users/consumers and acquire content for a much lower cost or for free. In turn, this content can then be used to reach other users/consumers and prospective users/consumers.

    A recent AdAge article talked about how big breweries are gutting their ad budgets, spending more money on non-traditional/unmeasured media (incl. UGC), and watching their sales/profits increase as a result. But because the brewers are going directly to their end-users, I don’t take this to imply that consumers are at opposition to traditional media producers. I suspect it’s really more of a media industry backlash – professional content producers are feeling threatened by the way marketplace has changed their traditional roles. Most professionals have adjusted to this shift – look at how major media outlets have started blogging and inviting their readers to engage in a conversation with them or how bands like the Beastie Boys have allowed their fans to remix songs as examples – but they still did it with a lot of grumbling.

    Are bloggers, then, including professional journalists who blog, creating UGC? Not unless they are writing content from a consumer perspective to the benefit of a specific product or service.

    This, of course, produces the question, does UGC always have to benefit the product or service that it is promoting? The *intent* of soliciting UGC is always to benefit, but as noted with the Mitt Romney or General Motors examples, UGC can backfire and hinder a product or service. That’s the inherent risk in UGC – you get what you pay for.

    Finally, Mike’s perception of UGC being purely digital isn’t entirely correct, it’s just that digital media make it far easier to acquire UGC. If you’ve ever read WIRED magazine, I would consider their monthly “Return to Sender” section UGC, but it’s not digital at all.

  4. Without philosophizing too much, user generated content (or consumer generated content) is any content (text, video, photos, ratings, web links, etc.) provided by actual users or consumers of the product, service, web site, etc. It’s intended to add more relevant information, feedback, opinions, contribute to the conversation, make the product/service more useful, and so on. Users may provide the content for their own future use, e.g., storing photos or bookmarking web links, and/or for the benefit of the online community as a whole.

  5. Alright, I know this is late, however this is my attempt to define UGC. Please note this definition is subject to change as I delve deeper into this subject matter. User generated content is any digital media information created and then posted to a public distribution channel such as the Internet by any user, regardless of the user’s affiliations (meaning groups such as: religion, corporation, race, political party, professional, amateur, etc.,).

  6. user generated content in simple words refers to ‘media of the people and by the people’.

    the virtue is the fact that it gives the end user the power to showcase himself and his good, bad, ugly work to all concerned.

    the downfall is the fact that since it is by the people media, the governing factor does not exist leading to serious issues such as copyright infringement, trashy content etc. in such media the number of trashy content always exceeds the amount of good or technically correct content. so many a times, it becomes content largely for all who are not concerned.

    also it is not a great tool or platform for any advertiser, since the target audience (the viewer) is largely unidentified.

  7. Reply I agree with the “Media of the people and by the people” part but not with the thought that it cannot be a formidable tool for any advertiser, cause we have missed the “for the people” part.

    I might be wrong, but any user who generates content, comes into light with more or less a selfish prupose, be it monitory or claim to nominal fame. Take Yahoo! Answers for example, where every answer can be rated. This urges the users to come up with good answers, hence resulting popularity in the related community.

    We can also fade into something known as the ‘viral effect’ here, where the advertiser can throw in a debate and users can feed from it with their own opinions. Sure, we can talk about irrelavant content here, but its still user generated. It can help advertising, if the advertiser promises a return of some kind. Its also easy for the advertiser to say that they do not hold the copyrights on users’ opinions on sensitive topics, but, very, very harmful for the reputation.

  8. hii
    i want to be discuss on why the need of online marketing specially in steel industry in india

  9. итак: превосходно…

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