User-Generated Content – Just more ‘Us vs Them’?

by Conversations with Dina on June 29, 2007

in Blogs & Blogging,Brand 2.0,Social Software Social Networks,Uncategorized

Bloggy thought three. Something I was mulling over for a while, even shared in a completely inarticulate manner with Rajesh yesterday, who by the way awarded me with the Thinking Blogger Award.  He shared with me some links that report on the recent IAMAI Web2.0 conference, with the comment – “am getting a bit restless with marketers”!  Then I got a call from a journalist, who wanted to discuss ‘unconferences’ – and I took off on her a little and told her how I dislike the term – any activity that is prefaced with an ‘un’ makes me feel not-so-nice about it.  Anyways, it also reminded me about another phrase or term in the social media realm that I generally dislike —- user-generated content and I started my rant on her! 

I particularly dislike it when I hear mainstream media and corporate organizations get a high on the phrase ‘user-generated content’.  In India, many times, its shortened to UGC (the only UGC I know of is the University Grants Commission!) and it bugs me no end. 

I dislike it, especially when, in the background, I hear their minds ticking away the rupees they can generate, behind all this buzz and excitement around the term.  When they have not really embraced it themselves.

I dislike it when they distance themselves from it – it’s something other people — oops users do.   How many of them have actually generated content themselves?

I am happy with adopting the term when I am talking about content that is created by users of a service – so there is user-generated content on Youtube, or on blogging platforms, or on wikis.  But I dislike it when marketers, PR agencies talk about the ‘potential’ in harnessing user-generated content for their brands, products and services through advertising messages on the user-generated content spaces or sites, and then believe they are really using social media in their strategies.  Am not knocking advertising based strategies – I just feel they are skimming the surface of the true potential in participating in the conversations, co-creation, community and collaboration that occurs when there is user-generated content.

I think they have it wrong, when they feel that getting onto the user-generated content bandwagon is a quick-fix for their social media strategies. Inherent in the phrase is a division, the notion or assumption of ‘us vs them’.  They have got to see themselves as co-participants and partners rather than marketers or advertisers who are ‘using’ user-generated content as another media opportunity.

I simply loved Toby Bloomberg’s rant at Unilever which so well illustrates what I am trying so hard to articulate!

“So I really want to see that ad. I really Need to see that ad. What do I do? Do I search for Lux? Do I go to the Unilever website? Nope. I head for YouTube and sure enough here it is! It’s a must watch. Oh and the Unilever Lux site?
Good I didn’t head that way, my coffee would have turned cold looking
for any mention of the campaign. Anyone for integrated marketing?

Questions To Ponder
Does a marketing campaign have to be “social” to be successful?
Is traditional advertising dead?
Is there room in the proverbial marketing mix for the good old 60 second TV spot?

Diva Marketing Thoughts
Marketing 101 tells us to hang where our customers hang. For some the “tube” means television and for others it means YouTube. And for many people it means Both

While there were quite a few Neon Girl videos on YouTube, I didn’t notice a Unilever Neo Girl YouTube Channel.
Unilever you missed an opportunity. Actually you missed several. Never
too late to get into the game. Would be a good idea to consider
especially if a sequel is in the works. Work it right and you might
have the next Lonely Girl.”

Bonus link: Here’s Jon Udell on why he dislikes the term per se.

Share

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: