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Is User Generated Content a Myth?



I enjoyed reading Scott Karp’s thoughts on sites like YouTube, which focus on User Generated Content (UGC), being media for real creative talent to be discovered. What I don’t agree with is the way in which he chooses to subscribe to the idea that an average person’s contribution to the same site is not commercially viable.

Scott does a very nice job on covering the latest talent discovery for Apple and its iTouch product, where a young man from England was discovered by Apple execs after posting a very high quality amateur commercial online. Scott goes on to imply that maybe the commercial was posted on YouTube with the intent for the young man to be discovered or that maybe Apple had generated the idea itself and was attempting to create some marketing buzz via the amazing discovery that they made of this young talent.

I think Scott is probably correct with many of his conclusions regarding talent and UGC, but starting his article off by saying UGC created by the masses is a myth and not commercially viable seems to be irrelevant to the point Scott was making about UGC sites being excellent places for talent to be discovered.

Mark Hopkins has produced an interesting post refuting the myth of UGC and I think it says much of what many other marketers are thinking when it comes to the way they look at UGC and the value it has for a business.

How do you feel about UGC? Have so many websites already adopted UGC to the point where instead of being authoritative the sites are actually becoming less relevant just by presenting so many dissenting ideas?

Roderick Ioerger is a long time online marketing and travel industry veteran.

  • http://www.ThinKlear.net/ Chris [TK]

    personally I think that UGC is VERY important for a website…

  • http://bushidoblog.com.ar Zen

    Loved the ad. UGC is like an atomic energy. An atom by itself it doesn’t do much, but when in community and exploited properly it can light up a whole city! :D

  • http://www.personalbrandingmag.com Dan Schawbel

    UGC is important for establishing a line of credibility.

  • http://www.cslf.com Mariana Evica

    I think that increasingly so, UGC is going to be engine of social media. I don’t think UGC has reached it’s peak at all yet, as we see the younger demographic mature. The same “kids” who are using Myspace and Facebook now (primarily for social contact) are laying down behavioral habits that will carry over into adulthood.

    These early adopters will almost certainly apply their habits to discussions of brands, organizations and even towns and cities as they graduate from high school and college.

    Consumer-to-consumer discussions will continue; exactly how entities interact and engage consumers will indeed affect credibility and reputation both. Companies too afraid to engage consumers in discussion will, I think, get left in the virtual dust.

  • http://www.acopic.co.uk Lee Turner

    I’ve just worked on a government funded website in the Northeast of England. We utilise UGC but each addition to the site is moderated to ensure the quality remains high. I think this is very important in terms of UGC.

  • http://aclterror.wordpress.com E.J. Alcantara

    People think that UGC is a myth because users are waiting for others to do it.

    That’s the problem: people are lazy. Besides YouTube, UGC is hard to come by because people don’t want to take the time to do it.

    Take Microsoft’s XNA platform for example. They were touting it to be a YouTube for games, yet there haven’t been any Xbox Live Arcade releases from the platform yet.

    Another way to look at it is that UGC is all about getting attention. The problem: people are prideful and selfish. There are many great minds out there, but think if just a few of them collaborated for a single project.

    A great example of this is the beginning stages of the iPhone’s unlocking for 3rd-party apps and for other mobile service providers. For a long time (internet-wise), the iPhone couldn’t be cracked because individuals competed with each other to be the first one to do it. Now, we see the “iPhone Dev Team” and their works.

    I hope this has been some helpful insight.

  • http://www.tarihteneski.com tarihteneski

    There are many blog search sciripts looking for keywords in blog tags and then indexing them. This is bad in terms of utilizing others’ intellectual work. Yet this is good in terms of reaching more people.

  • http://bookmarks.honewatson.com Hon

    WordPress.com has some high quality written content and there’s 6 million pages indexed in Google.

    I think that there is already a lot of high quality content created by users. People now watch user created video on YouTube over regular TV.

    Still I don’t know if you can monetize it so well. Content is cheaper than ever before.

  • rcjordan

    I think there’s a sort of “UGC blindness” coming about due to the usual culprits -media hype, knee-jerk reactions, and the bandwagon effect. I know I’m dismissing comment streams on general news articles and even tech product announcements. I also tend to skip out when threads go long and tedious.

    That said, I’m producing ultra-high quality (hhh) UGC for you right now, so there’s apparently some mileage in it when the topics and my interests happen to align.

    The more traditional publications are going to have an increasingly hard time integrating UGC. To do it properly, which is a euphemism for “keeping their advertisers’ brands polished and tarnish-free,” they are going to have to put a strong editorial staff on duty. Case in point:
    http://www.miamiherald.com/news/miami_dade/story/295141.html

  • Roderick Ioerger

    The feedback is terrific, hopefully over the next few weeks I can follow up on some of the comments.

  • http://www.gowfb.com GoWFB

    I think that people can ingnore the value of user generated content at thier own peril. The tremendous success of sites such Youtube are ample proof of this.

  • http://www.minicix.com minicix

    UGC is great when done properly, look at wikipedia.
    But UGC can work out bad when the userbase is lets say like with Digg, where there are too many apple and ubuntu fanboys.

  • http://www.theappleofmyi.com/blog Jon Moss

    I like and welcome UGC – Nick’s ad is a superb example. In one of those very random events, I met him at the Leopard launch! Pics and report here – http://theappleofmyi.com/blog/?p=1270

    A really nice chap! Hope he does well!

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