Participation and user created content
As information and communication technology (ICT) develops rapidly, media is one of the products it generates. Media is mainly divided into two types, mass media and social media. Mass media is an old medium which includes newspapers, magazines, broadcasts and televisions while social media is a new media which consists of online social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Weibo. Mass media and social media are completely different in the ways that people receive information and perspectives. Mass media is a one-way communication because people only receive the information that the media provides and then everything stops after they get the information. Social media is a two-way communication because all the stakeholders in the situation interact with each other actively and it never stops. In other words, social media involves participation and everyone is engaged in. Speaking of participation, UGC and UCC are the basic elements. UGC, which stands for user generated content, refers to forwarding other people’s content while UCC, which stands for user created content, refers to producing one’s content personally (Hinton and Hjorth, 2013).
People now live in a world where networked communication is widely covered, in which case they gradually convert themselves into producers of social media instead of consumers. Participation becomes a new sexy. Public response such as writing comments online to an article or a post is participation because people are involved in and engaged in. However, it is not at the level of being a producer. Only when people upload pictures, videos and documents online and share them with others, we can say that they are users as producers, which is advanced participation of social media (Hinton and Hjorth, 2013). Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube provide chances for users to make different forms of media intentionally for a variety of purposes. The products made by users are liked, forwarded and shared or reproduced by other users, which leads to an information and culture exchange at the end. This kind of content, as mentioned above, user created content (UCC) strongly triggers involvement and engagement in social media (Hjorth, 2015). For example, on Chinese mobile Wechat, which is similar to Facebook Messenger, some vivid emoji are created by some people and shared to friends. If the emoji is cute and creative enough, not as simple as J or L, then it could be so famous that everyone uses it to express the feelings when chatting on Wechat.
A specific case of social media participation is citizen journalism, which is defined as online reporting by individuals who do not work for any companies or organizations professionally (Hinton and Hjorth, 2013). There are a range of citizen journalism categories, which include writing articles online and replying comments to essays in existence and so on. Citizen journalism increases mutual discussions on different topics and spread information to everyone who has access to the internet with feedbacks from them, which is amazing. However, some disadvantages mentioned by Hinton and Hjorth (2013) can not be ignored. Firstly, citizen journalists are not professionally trained so there is no comparison between skilled journalists and citizen journalists. Secondly, citizen journalists do not usually obey the rules and they are casual in writing, in which case readers are less likely to trust them by their reputation. Thirdly, citizen journalists are more likely to be attacked than professional journalists because there is no protection provided.
Online activism is more participative than citizen journalism in that it involves a large number of people to arouse a discussion on an issue (Yang, 2009). Online activism is the use of social media platforms to deliver information and perspectives to as many people as possible and generate mutual communication network. Online activism makes the internet democratizing because it provides everyone the same equality and right to participate in the internet, which results in a diverse internet world. However, it also provides potentials for the bad effects of good intentions (Hinton and Hjorth, 2013).
User created content (UCC) is not only simple texts and images sent by a user online, but also advanced art and cultural production. For example, the world-famous Chinese dancer Jin Xing established a Jin Xing Talk Show in Shanghai last year and she always make different kinds of poses during the programme. One of the most interesting poses is shown in the picture below, which says “perfect”. It is reproduced by citizens and converted into a cartoon style emoji for Wechat and Weibo. When people think that they finish doing something very nicely, they will use this emoji to express the feelings without any words, which contribute to a cultural common sense that everyone in China knows it and understands it.
When it comes down to my own work during the semester, I pay much attention to the concept “user created content” which is known as UCC. My social media campaign is mainly about engaging target audience to participate in “buying clothes, becoming a model and getting money back”. The online entity is a new fashion brand created by myself called LUST, which indicate people that our clothes possess sexual attraction. In order to make more people involved, user created content should be eye-catching enough. Plenty of pictures and posts are uploaded and they are liked and forwarded by participative users. After that, users are encouraged to take photos of them wearing our clothes and sent those images online for collection, in which case a communication network is formed because it is a two-way mutual interaction. Anyone whose photos are selected as models online is allowed to win the money back, which means the clothes are free of charge for them. This will lead participation to a higher level as a result.
According to Couldry (2015), social media brings human beings both advantages and disadvantages, and it performs great impact on human life. Social network sites bring people to a virtual interface where they are able to write and share ideas with each other in an easy way. Gradually, the online space is separated into different communities for different kinds of people. For example, people who love sports may stay in a forum related to NBA for one day and people who like computer games are likely to gather in an online game community. In this case, people can get intimate publics not only from real world, but also from the internet. Online intimacy is an aggregation of people who share the same interests and hold the same opinions, which makes space for close relationships but also increases the risk of privacy loss. It is easy for people to trust someone else online if they are not carefully enough and this leads to the misbehavior of stealing or selling personal information. In addition, online community can cause another problem which is abuse. For example, if a celebrity makes a mistake such as cheating on husband or wife, people will engage in the online activity of criticism because the online community gives them chances to give comments without thinking in depth. Online relations can be different from offline relations (Vickery and Wunsch-Vincent, 2007).
Generally speaking, participation and user created content give me ideas on how to conduct my own social media campaign better and make people engaged and involved. Social media is going to play a more important role in future life, although it will never take the place of traditional media.
Couldry, N. (2015). Social Media: Human Life. Social Media + Society, 1(1), pp.1-2.
Hinton, S. and Hjorth, L. (2013). Understanding Social Media. London: SAGE Publications Ltd, pp.55-76.
Hjorth, L. (2015). Mobile art: Rethinking intersections between art, user created content (UCC), and the quotidian. [online] mobile media & communication. Available at: http://mmc.sagepub.com/content/early/2015/12/09/2050157915619210.abstract [Accessed 15 Apr. 2016].
Vickery, G. and Wunsch-Vincent, S. (2007). Participative Web and user-created content. Paris: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, pp.1-124.
Yang, G. (2009). Online Activism. Journal of Democracy, 20(3), pp.33-36.