Participation, User Created Content (UCC) and User Generated Content (UGC)
Like it or loathe it, the raise of social media usage is the phenomenon that cannot be avoided. People spend about as much time on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter as they do on Search, News, Shopping and Email websites combined. Like Hinton and Hjorth (2013) said, if there is one word that summerizes the particular quality of social media, it would be ‘participation’. That is to say, users’ participation has become an indispensable part of social media operation. Since mass media offer a one-way communication, audience can only receive the information without any feedback. However social media, which are quite different from mass media, allow audience to engage in or even create the content.
- What is User Created Content (UCC) and User Generated Content (UGC)?Creating and distributing content has become one of the most important things a brand can do to increase its online presence and website traffic. But what if you don’t have the resources to constantly produce the new content you need to drive traffic? One way to keep up with the growing need for fresh content is to look to other sources for your online content, like target audience. The idea of user created content (UCC) and user generated content (UGC) has become an incredibly popular way to quickly source site content for marketing efforts.
According to Hinton and Hjorth (2013), “participation can take various forms of agency from user generated content (UGC), in which the user forward content made by others, to user created content (UCC), in which the content is made by the user.” The content can be anything from images to videos to blog posts. The user could be a brand’s customer, site visitor or social follower.
Nowadays, the number of posts by users on different social media platforms has increased dramatically (see statistics below, which shows the explosion of UGC including text posts and simple photo uploaded on different channels), and the number is still growing.
(Source: Socially Connected: How Brand, Retail and Media Websites are Evolving. Retrieved from http://www.engagesciences.com/socially-connected-brand-websites-evolving/)
One way to benefit from UGC is to create a site that collects and distributes it. There are a lot of websites out there that were founded on this principle, and many you may already heard of. These websites benefit from the free content that they can show site visitors and the users benefit from a site that will not only host their content, but will also promote it.
A lot of sites have been increasingly benefited from user generated content such as Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Facebook (see diagram below).
(Source: Infographic of the Day:The Alchemy behind Facebook and YouTube. Retrieved from http://www.fastcodesign.com/1664377/infographic-of-the-day-the-alchemy-behind-facebook-and-youtube)
Take YouTube as an example, YouTube may be one of the most successful UGC sites to date, boasting 100 hours of videos being uploaded to the site every minute. YouTube has also seen many of its users submitting content turned into celebrities, which could be why it sees so much content being submitted all the time (Kim, 2016).
There is nothing hotter in the world of marketing right now than user generated content (UGC) campaigns. Advertising agencies and brands worldwide are trying to tap into the immense power of their fan/customer base and use their authentic and original content to power their marketing campaigns.
If you want to learn more, here is a Youtube video called How to Use User Generated Content: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PJ_2sPqAkPk
In Hinton and Hjorth’s work (2013), the definition of the concepts was followed by four types of UCC and UGC activities: users as produces, crowd sourcing, citizen journalism and online activism. Let us see several cases in real life to analyze how brands or social media sites put the concept into practice.
- Users as Producers
Coca-Cola’s Share a Coke
(Source: 10 User Generated Content Campaigns that Actually Worked. Retrieved from http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/examples-of-user-generated-content)
In 2015, Coca-cola came out with a line of can and bottles that read, “Share a Coke with (insert name).” Coke drinkers flocked to stores to find the can with their name on it, and many would go on to take a photo for social media with the hashtag #shareacoke. Coca Cola went on to share many of these pictures with its social following (Siu, 2015).
- Crowd Sourcing
Wikipedia is a free encyclopedia that allows anyone to edit entries. The site currently has more than 125,000 active users submitting or editing the content, which has contributed to more than 749.4 million page edits since the site was set up (Wikipedia, 2016).
- Citizen Journalism
Chinese Citizen Journalists on Weibo
Recently, a girl was at the point of kidnapping by a strange man in Heyi Hotel in Beijing. However, the staff and the security team of that hotel did not do anything since they thought it was a just a family affair. Fortunately, a customer living in the hotel helped that girl so as to avert the tragedy.
After that, the victim posted the whole story on Weibo, which has been reported by both social media and mass media and raised lots of concerns from the police and the public in no time. Cyber citizens also reported this cause from their points of view and discussed about female security on their social media accounts.
The cause was cracked down within three days. We can see it is the power of social media and citizen journalism that push the cause investigation.
- Online Activism
Estee Lauder—Breast Cancer Action, not Awareness
(Source: 10 Great Examples of User Generated Content Campaigns. Retrieved from http://www.postano.com/blog/10-great-examples-of-user-generated-content-campaigns)
Estee Lauder took a proactive approach to their global breast cancer awareness campaign in 2013, wanting not to just promote breast cancer awareness, but to get people to start prevention today. The theme of the campaign was “Stronger Together”, which encouraged women to create a “Circle of Strength” with their friends and to make commitments to schedule mammograms, eat healthy food, go on daily walks, and support each other in their efforts (Cassinelli, 2014).
The Circle of Strength were displayed in a social hub alongside inspirational Instagram photos and tweets as part of the campaign and gave visitors the opportunity to donate money to the cause as well. The mix of inspiration social content with actionable commitments by real people gave this campaign a real human element that would not be possible without the contribution of women all over the world.
- My Social Media Campaign and the Concept of Participation, UCC and UGCIn my previous campaign, our company collected photos and their love stories as the promotion content on our Weibo and Wechat accounts. Meanwhile, we used hashtags such as #tangvision2016, #weddingphotography, #(place)+photography when we posted images or videos on Instagram in order to engage more target audience (see pictures below). Target audience can be seen as producers of the content for our campaign.
Furthermore, in order to engage more audience to participate into our campaign, we posted questions or votes on the photography works of our studio on Weibo and Wechat. I think this is an effective UCC and UGC strategy that can be applied to the campaigns of other websites or brands.
Cassinelli, A. (2014). 10 Great Examples of User Generated Content Campaigns. Retrieved from
Hinton, S., & Hjorth, L. (2013). Participation and User Created Content Understanding Social Media (pp. 55 – 76). London: SAGE Publications Ltd.
Imagine Easy Solutions. (2014). How to Use User Generated Content [Video]. Retrieved from
Kuang, C. (2011). Infographic of the Day: The Alchemy behind Facebook and YouTube [Image]. Retrieved from
Kim, J. (2014). The Institutionalization of YouTube: From User Generated Content to Professionally Generated Content (pp. 53-67). London: SAGE Publications Ltd. Retrieved from
Oldham, J. (2015). Socially Connected: How Brand, Retail and Media Websites are Evolving [Image]. Retrieved from
Siu, E. (2015). 10 User Generated Content Campaigns that Actually Worked. Retrieved from
Wikipedia. (2016). Wikipedia. Retrieved from