honoknanabalansuAuthor: Alasdair Munn

tcg: The Communication Group

User Generated Content (UGC) is no longer news; it is an established part of our lives. We expect to be able to participate, share and create online. Just as having a mobile phone is standard. Do you remember when mobiles were something special? Sure, mobiles are evolving. It is no longer a question of whether you should have one or not, it is now a question of what you want to be able to do with them.

UGC is evolving too. We are producing content online in various forms. The question now is not whether we should be producing it, but how it can be used. Organizations are adapting their business models and taking a serious look at how social media tools and software can add value to their business models. One of the central questions concerns how to deal with UGC.

We know that engaging with and learning from our audience, be they customers, partners, employees or other stakeholders, is important. Who better to tell us what our audience wants than our audience? But we are also aware that the resources needed to continually monitor conversations and act on them can be prohibitive.

The way we view content has evolved. Websites are no longer static, or indeed the destination or focus. What we are all looking for is content. You just need to look at RSS feeds or the way we use twitter search to know that targeted buckets of information are the destinations. From an organizational point of view, these buckets of content need to be able to travel, grow, expand and have value added to them. This process results in User Generated Value (UGV).

UGV differs from UGC in that the content, or the momentum for the content has originated from the organization. This UGV is also distinct in that the value added by the stakeholders or audiences can be, but does not have to be, overt. Comments, blogs, stories and use case are all valuable. As is internal collaboration on content and content editing through tools such as wiki’s. However there are a whole set of tools that can add value to content, without altering its form.

Below are some examples of how UGV may play out.

  • Tools such as rating, tagging and flagging allow organizations to understand how people view their content.
  • Monitoring how a person moves through your website or content can highlight new product connections.
  • Incorporating your website, your intranet and your extranet through a combination of using a CMS or LMS, permissions based profiles and social media tools allows for a seamless experience for your users. This also helps make monitoring, assessing and analysing easier to do.
  • Allowing people to rate a search based upon their search words and phrases for example means that the next time someone uses the same search terms the most relevant result will be at the top.
  • Knowing which products or services are compared or analysed, and in what order gives an organization a unique view into the workings of customers minds.

Integrating social media tools and technologies into an organization goes far deeper than allowing comments and engaging on twitter. Understanding how users can add value to the organization requires an in-depth look at what your objectives are and how you manage your content. Ensuring that the tools you use add value in themselves, and that your audience’s experience of your organization is open, seamless, painless and intuitive will bring the interaction and added value you seek.

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