UGC, CGC, and UPCs – Part III

July 12, 2007

Dance CrewProfessional or amateur, most content is produced with a specific audience in mind. Most UGC is produced for a micro audience; friends, family, and possibly a special interest group. Rarely do amateurs (users) produce content for an audience outside their small sphere of acquaintances. Professionals obviously focus on much larger audiences.

Relevance, quality, and uniqueness/creativity drive content appeal. As each factor increases, so does the potential size of the audience and the degree in which they’re engaged. Most UGC is only relevant to a very small audience. Andrew, you would have no interest in browsing my daughter’s Facebook page, believe me.

Relevance + Quality + Uniqueness/Creativity = Value

Every producer makes a value promise to their audience. Even my wife and kids would have zero interest in our vacation pictures if they were poorly lit and blurry. Fred Rutherford repeatedly failed to deliver his value promise to the Cleavers because his slideshows ran far longer than their interest.

Bob SagetOccasionally UGC will appeal to a large audience due to it’s absurdity or shock value. Television programs like America’s Funniest Home Videos have made a cottage industry of UGC for almost two decades. But rarely does an amateur intentionally design content to appeal to a large audience, and when they do, they usually fail. This is a key point many marketers don’t seem to understand. 

 Add a brand contraint and you really have a tall order. Unlike user generated content, consumer generated content is supposed to say something compelling about a brand. Too often UGC appeals to a large audience because it is pornographic, violent, grotesque, or degrading – exactly the kind of content most brands want nothing to do with. Amateurs, for whatever reason, have great difficulty creating content that is G-rated-funny, inspirational, or creative.

Brands who have attempted to initiate CGC to reach a large or influential audience are often disappointed with the results – but you won’t read this in the trade press.

The idea of CGC appeals to marketers because “authentic content” is thought to make a stronger connection between brands and consumers. CGC is viewed not only as entertainment, but as a testimonial for the brand. A the very least, CGC should say something positive about the brand. Tangerine Toad aptly points out that CGC like the Mentos/Coke videos say nothing positive or negative about either brand.

In part IV I’ll delve into UGC created by skilled amateurs and semi-pros.

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