User Generated Content: There is a wave but we still need a push
There is huge potential in drawing out value by modelling user generated content. We have the platforms, the scale, but we still have a few other considerations.
The rise of the digital platform revolution sees a huge surge in the number of millennial users who ride on user generated content as a vehicle. The natural tendency of millennials show that they inherently gravitate towards opinions and perspectives of other users prior to making digital decisions such as purchases online or formulating individual views. This enables key insights to be drawn by modelling and analysing user generated content from a social network perspective to gain considerable competitive advantages. The following depicts the current landscape of the social media network sites
- Facebook had 1.44 billion active users every month for the first quarter of 2015 (Statista, 2015)
- Instagram listed in at 300 million active users every month as of January 2015(Econsultancy, 2014
- Twitter has 255 million active monthly users as of 2014 (Digital Insights, 2014)
- YouTube features 1 billion active users each month as of 2013(The Huffington Post, 2013)
User generated content is the new communication medium and vehicle for companies to leverage to their digital identities. Social media content can make or break a brand’s reputation. Companies need to understand the importance of monitoring online published content and responding to feedback in order to maintain brand relevance.
“Involvement of customer base in building brand reputation is key”
There are two key ways in which brands can leverage user-generated content to maintain an effective brand image.
1. Build consumer trust
Companies also need to realise their biggest learnings are from their weakest points. By continuously monitoring feedback and managing user-generated content, companies will be able to both satisfy customer expectations while also improving on core functions of their brand. Leveraging this strategy also provides companies with the opportunities to create tailored solutions for customers. By listening and responding to customer feedback, trust can be built on to the brand.
(Source: OutandAboutMarketing (2015))
2.Create engaging site experiences
The digital landscape provides new opportunities and dynamics that brands need to capitalise on. This is heavily associated with the activeness of their online digital identities. Some ways in which this can be done is to integrate social media posts, maintain a consolidated social media presence and to empower customers with the opportunity to create and publish their own content.
Companies can no longer ignore the increasingly important relationship between their social media brand and user generated content. Given the dynamic nature, companies who are adept enough to react quickly and proactively to user generated content will be able to engage effectively within a digitally competitive industry. However, given the lower barriers of content distribution, the quality of user generated content also lowers.
Peter Esperson shares the same perspective in regards to the value of user generated content:
“An influx of content does not guarantee an influx of quality. Even amongst major publishers “
This ongoing trend is an indication that most content created isn’t original or simply of high enough quality to be shared and linked to. Consequentially this is leading to a point where data quality within user-generated content needs to be validated and cleaned. Such examples of companies that rely on user-generated data are Foursquare and Trip Advisor which use a combination of algorithms and human curation to ensure data correctness. These algorithms can capture simple errors or errors which follow common patterns that occur. Some examples of issues which may occur within these cases and which are solved by algorithms are:
- Restaurants closing down
- Algorithms can infer a place is closed if the number of visits suddenly drops to zero over a long period.
- False repeated reviews
- Machine learning and spam detection across various domains can be used to develop algorithms that check the percentage of posts from every user that contain the same content.
- False check-ins to drive traffic
- Algorithm to detect cheating through analysing feasibility of moving geographically across many locations.
Algorithms are great for fixing the simple stuff however they are easily outsmarted by more devious malicious users. This is where the terminology human curation comes in. It is essentially the process of improving the quality of user generated content. Some examples are:
- Conducted by the passionate users of the web platform to realise and fix errors identified. This relies on the fostering of a web community while also relying on the right tools to be provided.
- In the rare extreme case where things do go out of hand, companies hire contractors or use crowdsourcing websites to clean data and fix incomplete data. This strategy should provide better results however will be more expensive and harder to scale.
The current social media landscape is changing rapidly and with it brings new opportunities and dynamics for business organisational brands. This discussion examines three core components which need to be considered when aiming to model user generated content as valuable resource.
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Praetorius, D. 2015, There’s A Lot Of Content Out There, But That Doesn’t Mean It’s Any Good — Thoughts on Media — Medium. [ONLINE] Available at: https://medium.com/thoughts-on-media/there-s-a-lot-of-content-out-there-but-that-doesn-t-mean-it-s-any-good-59e038baedab#.4zllib16h
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3 Reasons Why You Need User Generated Content — Real Brands Examples — Medium. 2016. 3 Reasons Why You Need User Generated Content — Real Brands Examples — Medium. [ONLINE] Available at: https://medium.com/@brand24/3-reasons-why-user-generated-content-can-boost-your-sales-real-brands-examples-359d48fcd464#.kl0v5i2qj
Statista, 2016, Number of Facebook users worldwide 2008–2015 | Statistic. 2016. • Number of Facebook users worldwide 2008–2015 | Statistic. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.statista.com/statistics/264810/number-of-monthly-active-facebook-users-worldwide
Econsultancy, 2016, 20+ Instagram stats marketers need to know | Econsultancy. 2016. 20+ Instagram stats marketers need to know | Econsultancy. [ONLINE] Available at: https://econsultancy.com/blog/65939-20-instagram-stats-marketers-need-to-know
Digital Insights, 2014, Latest Social Media users stats, facts and numbers for 2014 — Digital Insights. 2016. Latest Social Media users stats, facts and numbers for 2014 — Digital Insights. [ONLINE] Available at: http://blog.digitalinsights.in/social-media-users-2014-stats-numbers/05205287.html
The Huffington Post, 2016, YouTube Stats: Site Has 1 Billion Active Users Each Month. 2016. YouTube Stats: Site Has 1 Billion Active Users Each Month. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/21/youtube-stats_n_2922543.html
Watch “Sailing in the perfect Storm of User-Generated Content: Peter Esperson at TEDxVianadoCastelo” Video at TEDxTalks. 2016. Watch “Sailing in the perfect Storm of User-Generated Content: Peter Esperson at TEDxVianadoCastelo” Video at TEDxTalks. [ONLINE] Available at:http://tedxtalks.ted.com/video/Sailing-in-the-perfect-Storm-of