Consumer generated content (also known as user-generated content or consumer generated media) is “any material created and uploaded to the Internet by non-media professionals.” The earliest forms of CGC were discussion networks in the 1980s and in the late-1990s, rating sites became popular. Nowadays, CGC is flooding the internet with the popularity of websites like Facebook, YouTube, and Wikipedia. Consumer generated content consists of review sites, wikis, blogs, forums, social networking sites, content sharing sites, and more. With faster internet connections, people are now able to upload more files, pictures, and videos onto the internet.
This growing popularity of consumer generated content has caused good and bad consequences. Consumer generated content has allowed a larger information base on the web. The consumer can now create content and share information and opinions. Websites like LinkedIn and Facebook make it easier to network with professionals and keep in touch with friends. However, despite the benefits of CGC, there are a few problems that are concerning to media professionals. A problem with CGC is its reliability. CGC can be created by anyone with an internet connection. Sources may not be credible and information may be biased2.
Consumer generated content, whether good or bad, has its effects on advertising. Advertising has become more interactive as opposed to one-way messages1. Advertisers must be careful, because there is less control over CGC. Therefore, ads are incorporated with little clutter, becoming just another opinion in the mix. Advertisers are still unsure how to go about CGC ads, but they will be forced to learn because not adapting to this change may bring on worse consequences1.
Paul Chin. “The Value of User-Generated Content, Part 1.” Intranet Journal. Mar 2006. <http://www.intranetjournal.com/articles/200603/ij_03_07_06a.html>.
Social media websites is having positive and negative effects on companies. Word-of-mouth advertising has increased significantly because of social media websites like Facebook and Twitter, causing an increase in brand awareness and marketing sales. Marketwatch wrote an article about this topic, saying that companies that take advantage of social media will more likely have visibility in consumer generated content and effectiveness in marketing. With the decline of traditional marketing effectiveness, social media may be the future of marketing.
Even though word-of-mouth may spread good news, it can also spread the bad. ZDNet wrote an article about how social media may increase identity theft on websites such as Twitter, Facebook and MySpace. Most recently, a person on Twitter who claimed to be a representative of ExxonMobil was confirmed untrue. This has caused people to think that social media websites are untrustworthy and dishonest. These websites have been accused of not doing enough to secure a person’s identity (or brand, in this case). Despite incidents like this, the marketing world cannot ignore the rising influence of social media and must be prepared of how it will affect marketing as a whole.
In the past few years, user-generated content has been on the rise. Nowadays anybody with access to the internet can create reviews, videos, articles, and much more. Compared to ten years ago, more people have internet access and have faster connections to upload photos, videos, music, etc. Amateurs can become celebrities through YouTube or MySpace and become experts through Wikipedia and various review sites. Social networking has become a very popular way to meet professionals and to stay in touch with friends. However, with the public having so much power in creating and editing information, there may be a need for professionals to step in to make user-generated content more reliable.
The internet has become notorious for inaccuracies and scams. The demand for a more reliable web and the potential for more advertising money have given the experts their jobs on the web: to edit user-generated content to make it accurate. Advertisers are willing to pay more for space next to trusted information. With Web 3.0 on the way, the experts are likely to come with it, adding a refined layer to user-generated content.
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