BCM112 · DIGC335 · Digital Media

User Generated Content

When brands utilise fan made, or user generated content, it becomes the advertising equivalent of citizen journalism.  It promotes the idea of participatory culture, while also adding to the narrative of the brand identity, and creating a community of collective understanding, collective intelligence, and collective passion (or brand tribes) around the brand organisation.

If a brand were to take the recommended video from this week, slap their logo on it, and use it to tweet “Wasn’t 2012 the best?”, that would be an example of utilising user generated content to create engagement with their company.

Bruns (2007) outlines characteristics of produsage with these 4 main points:

  • Moving away from dedicated individuals/teams, towards broader generation and distribution via participants;
  • Produsers move between the roles of leader; participant; and content user;
  • The generated content isn’t necessarily a finalised product, but something which can still develop;
  • Deliberate blind eye turned from copyright, in order to build upon existing works for further engagement.

A great example of a brand utilising user generated content to tell a targeted narrative are the hashtags UOW promotes to highlight student culture: #ExperienceUOW (1 | 2) and #ThisIsUOW (12 | 3 | 4)


What’s interesting about these two hashtags is the different narratives that have evolved through this user generated content.  #ExperienceUOW tells the story of UOW students and their interaction with the campus; which was the original aim for both hashtags.  #ThisIsUOW however has morphed into a loop of negative feedback towards the university, branching beyond just Facebook and Instagram, finding a hub of activity on Twitter also (an online platform where #ExperienceUOW has not landed).  One of the ways the brand seems to be trying to control the #ThisIsUOW brand, is by creating a storify page to share only the aspects of the tag that it deems worthy, however user generated content is of such a nature that it cannot be stopped on channels which are not moderated, thus allowing the negative, satirical, or parodying feedback to continue circulating via twitter.  This then becomes a part of the brand, although not necessarily a welcomed one by the organisation (hence the creation of #ExperienceUOW), giving some power to those who are helping establish this element of the brand, rather than the traditional, dedicated team behind the social media accounts.

Is utilising user generated content ethical?  Often times, brands take from the content creators without crediting or attributing the work to them.  While UOW runs their campaign as a competition, other brands do not, and sometimes go as far as to steal for their own profit.  Could brands also be taking user generated content and not crediting it in order to make it appear more ‘credible‘ due to the lack of qualifications from those who are creating?


10 thoughts on “User Generated Content

  1. Heya!
    I feel like your post explains what citizen journalism is really well.
    I really like how you incorporated UOW and their hashtags and provided the reader with what each hashtag represented and what it contained.
    May I suggest possibly adding more pictures. Everybody loves pictures (:(:
    All in all I believe your post is a good read and really informative.

    Nailed it 😀


  2. I don’t have many suggestions as always you explained the weeks topic really well! Bringing so many things I’ve never even thought twice about to light, like I never thought of the uow hashtag and competitions they host as part of advertising. Even though it clearly is… And that’s crazy in my opinion either i’m too simple or they did it so well so nobody could think negatively about them for this. Anyways very good post, not too long and provides good examples of how citizen journalism can backfire with little authority in control.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Do you think that the hashtag campaigns create a sense of connection between you and the brand? Linking it into the week 10 topic for example (#CoveringTwoWeeks), could this campaign be utilised by students as a way of identifying themselves online? Does their interaction with the #ExperienceUOW competition become a part of their persona as well as UOW’s online persona? Is that something you want to identify with in order to win a few coffees and a sticker here and there?

      Expand that beyond UOW however, because as a student, you may experience more pride in your institution than other brands. Are there any brands you would create content for in a fan like way, even if they are not physically connected to you? I myself identify with and sport multiple Coca Cola products, however my only tangible connection to the organisation is the fact that I drink their product (although only the ‘classic’, full sugar, red canned version). Are there any brands you utilise in your everyday life which you would never want to identify with, by creating content, whether a tweet talking about it, or wearing products advertising it?

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m always for supporting local and small time brands as I feel that supporting ones that have already made it big as sort of a waste of time. I’d like to say i’m not too big on brands but they are everywhere so quite inescapable. But I suppose I have a pair of New Balance shoes that i don’t mind representing everyday, I would even vouch for them.
    Nowadays our popular online personas like youtubers are often getting paid to advertise products and while many people see this negatively as an easy way to get more money. I feel that if they would actually use that product in their real lives then I don’t mind. Relating back to my other point I use these shoes often doing various activities so I feel that would be a reliable advertisement.
    The experience Uow competitions I feel people care more about winning free stuff rather than representing the university and that is something to think about so I’m not sure if there’s an actual connection from brand to community.

    Regarding the brands I use that I wouldn’t want to identify with I can’t think of one I have right now, but I suppose I wouldn’t want to represent a brand that mistreats others like I’ve heard Marc Jacobs company treats their models like trash so even though I don’t have Marc Jacobs money that has turned my off their products. It reminds me of the Friends episode where Phoebe bought that fur coat even though she was against that. Anyways I’ve rambled that’s just a collection of some thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “Nowadays our popular online personas like youtubers are often getting paid to advertise products and while many people see this negatively as an easy way to get more money.” That’s a really good observation, and it operates off an older model of product placement: TV series, the Gilmore Girls, was possible through the continuous product placement week to week, where the products they were promoting were worked into the storyline and dialogue of the week.
      Personally, I’m ok with YouTubers promoting products, as long as they give real thoughts and reviews, and make it clear that they have been given money to test out these products in order to create an informed opinion of them, rather than just following a script for the sake of it.

      If you are interested in this topic, particularly in regards to why you wouldn’t support brands, I’d suggest you have a look at the book ‘No Logo’ by Naomi Klein.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sounds good I’m gonna search for that book it seems interesting! And yes I totally agree if the YouTubers actually say some pros and cons of a product I feel that is more reliable than someone that seems like they are reading a script. If you’re into makeup I’d say Grav3yardGirl on YouTube can be very honest she also finds products ‘as seen on tv’ and reviews them to see if they actually work. Along with being entertaining it’s pretty useful like if you were trying to find a good gift for someone or cosmetics that really work.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Ah being a marketing student this is a concept we have studied a lot, the idea of creating a participatory business culture to improve branding. In class we call it CRM- Customer Relationship Management, which is defined as the development of a customer-centric business culture, dedicated to winning and keeping customers by creating and delivering value better than competitors. The principal objective of CRM is to manage customer relationships so as to maximise their life-time value for the organisation. This means, applying the right strategic, analytical and operational tools to effectively build and maintain customer relationships.

    All the text books say that the best way to build this relationship is, as you have mentioned, to let the customer become involved in the creation of content usually through social media. The problem is though how much of it should be controlled and how much should be free for audience contribution. I’m doing an assignment about Adidas at the moment and they claim to be a relationship focused brand because they have a massive blog space and social media presence, but the truth is, it is so hard to contribute. Everything is monitored and only approved if it says positive things about the brand. So it’s a really heavily controlled branding environment The question is at what point does it stop being truly relationship focused when you have to strike a balance between open dialogue and a controlled image?

    You don’t want what happened to #thisisuow but at the same time if the environment to controlled its not a true participatory culture.

    Here is a book I read about CRM that may be useful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for that comment. Honestly the best feedback I’ve received in this subject so far!
      I really appreciate your marketing perspective on it, because I’m coming at it from a graphic design background which is of course, different.
      I’m not sure if it will be useful for your Adidas research, but I presented on the topic of “Can brands be your friends?”, framing some of my research into corporate branding within personalised friendship like qualities. (https://cyberculturesblog.wordpress.com/2016/04/22/branding-and-social-media-are-brands-your-friends/)

      Is there a situation where user generated content which was not what the brands wanted originally, turned into a positive effect? I’m sure there is, but I can only think of a personal example currently: I used to play an MMOCC, with a small community base. Towards the end of it’s existence, the user base was dwindling even further, and to create a better sense of community, those who were left created a “WE THE PEOPLE” movement (loosely referencing WWE apparently). They felt the staff weren’t dedicated to the game anymore, so they separated the community into an US vs THEM mentality. While it was a nightmare for the staff in terms of power and control (which was the side I was on), it actually created a stronger sense of connection between those left in the community, with player generated narrative created to explain ‘conspiracy theories’ and connections between players, or player/staff relationships.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s