Definition and measurement
Internet has revolutionised the speed of the news cycle, where web users are overwhelmed by different types of information frequently. It is noticed that Internet provides the public with a platform in which users can create, express and communicate with each other in order to realise their participation and interaction in online space (OECD, 2007, p. 17). As social media has become a new phenomenon in the modern society, the cyber space is generated into participative web where collective social communications, personal networking and idea exchange are easy to be achieved. Due to the characteristic of social media, broadcast media and face-to-face communication are combined in one feature (Marwick, 2010).
The emergence of Web 2.0 phenomenon is increasingly affecting the web-based community, such as Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Blog, Weibo, Wechat, etc. Stern indicates that Web 2.0 has achieved a Web use shifting “from passive consumption of content to more active participation, creation and sharing”. As such, Web 2.0 refers to change users’ practice (Hinton, 2013). In other word, digital space is shifting towards user-focused and user-engaged model. However, Hinton (2013) also refers that users are controlling as well as being controlled in the environment of Web 2.0 concept due to the transparency of the Internet.
Internet users tend to integrate new information for the needs of other users, which builds an information cycle with second generation users. This trend has been coined as User-Generated Content (UGC). UGC enjoys a wide variety of informational channels including text, message, photos, video, audio, etc. Valcke & Lenaerts (2010, p. 120) propose that UGC is a phenomenon of Web 2.0, which plays a vital role in controlling the mainstream media. Hence, it follows that UGC contributes to the growth of social media and social networking, a place which enables the public to gain a deeper understanding of the world.
As Internet is more embedded in people’s lives, users start to focus in regards to the innovative participation (OECD, 2007, p. 15). UGC is the trend when users share and disseminate information from other users, whereas UCC (User-Created Content) is when users create the content in order to express themselves.
On the one hand, UCC encourages users to contribute to the content, which results in “lower entry barriers, distribution and user costs and greater diversity of works, as digital shelf space is almost limitless” (OECD, 2007, p. 12). Therefore, UCC offers Web users the opportunity for everyone to be “editor”, “publisher”, “hoster”, “broadcaster”, or “journalist”. The information has become massively varied and the online space has expanded increasingly.
On the other hand, UCC stimulates diversity of opinion in favour of freedom of expression, which is an effective tool for political gains (OECD, 2007, p. 12). The revolutionary social movement “Arab Spring” highlighted power of the individual armed with web 2.0 and UCC model of the individual, which took advantage of Web 2.0 and UCC model. The success of using the digital space and social media for social and political movement has inspired other movements in the world, such as Feminism Movement and Hong Kong Umbrella Movement.
Hence, social media has seen a shift in recent times from UGC to UCC, as users have found power to realise their social, economic and legal agendas.
From UGC to UCC – Organisation’s strategic utilisation
Organisations like NGO and NPO tend to take advantage of social media redundant to raise public awareness and promote their reputation. Connection-oriented model is the most widely-used by NGOs. It provides an Internet communication service which enables users’ participation and interaction in online networks (Wirtz & Schilke &Ullrich, 2010, p. 275). Kaplan and Haenlein (2010, p. 62) notice that modern business benefits from social media built on the ideological and technological foundations which allows the creation and idea exchange of users.
Greenpeace is an independent organisation that campaigns on a range of environmental and peace issues including focuses on global environmental problems including climate change, forests, oceans, food, detox and nuclear disarmament. In addition, Greenpeace forces solutions for a green and peaceful future in order to achieve their goal of ensuring “the ability of the earth to nurture life in all its diversity” (Greenpeace website, 2016).
Greenpeace has utilised UGC by sharing photos, related articles and news feeds on social media.
Noticeably, with the development of Web 2.0, Greenpeace started to conduct their campaigns by utilising a more effective and powerful concept of UCC.
Greenpeace’s Save the Arctic campaign in 2014 admonished LEGO’s partnership with Shell. Greenpeace first posted a video featuring a LEGO Arctic paradise being flooded and destroyed by oil. This campaign was conducted with UCC concept because it appealed for individuals to get involved and join the movement.
After the campaign, one million people spoke out.
Children built giant Arctic animals out of LEGO for a playful protest.
LEGOlution protest incited people across the world who dressed as miniature LEGO people walking in the streets to against LEGO’s inappropriate partnership with Shell.
The campaign was high-profile and powerful. LEGO has announced to end its partnership with Shell after three months of the campaign.
- La Quadrature du Net (Squaring of the Net)
La Quadrature du Net is a French non-profit association which defends the rights and freedom of citizens on the Internet. The association does not aim at recruiting a large group of members. Instead, it relies on the contribution of individuals. On its website, it is easy to find Wiki where people can create or modify content. This collaborative part of the organisation website offers users an arena where people can create and share content in preparation or under discussion, which is a good example of UCC used by organisations.
Habitat for Humanity is a non-profit organisation founded on the conviction that everyone should have a decent, safe, affordable place to live (Habitat for Humanity website, 2016). In 2014, Habitat for Humanity launched photo contast #HabitatPhotoContest on Instagram. Users were asked to post photos depicting Habitat’s mission and impact with the hashtag #HabitatPhotoContest. The winner was awarded as a position as volunteer at the 31st Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project.
The campaign boosted the organisation’s reputation and delivered their key messages by collecting and displaying inspiring photos on social media of the Habitat team as well as people who were helped by Habitat. This resulted in more people wanting to join Habitat team as volunteers in different areas around the world to help a family in need of better housing.
YPDR campaign #savetheocean
Understanding the concept of participation of UGC and UCC, I realised the importance of shifting from UGC towards UCC on social media. At Web 2.0 age, users are empowered by social media to fit in the participatory culture and become “produsers” from “producer” (Hinton & Hjorth, 2013).
However, it is difficult to achieve UCC platform on every social media.
In my campaign, I firstly used UGC to disseminate the information of the organisation. In this way, the target audience can gain a better understanding of the public image and key messages of the campaign. When followers and subscribers forwarded and shared content with others, they started to participate in the campaign. Similarly, in order to engage the target audience, as Habitat for Humanity, in addition to using #savetheocean with every post, I also created a photo contest by using #mostbeautifulocean to encourage followers join the campaign and take part in actions in the organisation.
The campaign #savetheocean was conducted to disseminate the information of marine restoration, which has benefited the organisation expanding Chinese market and enlarging the awareness in China. The next step for YPDR is to continue applying UCC, such as creating Wiki and other real-time collaborative text editor to realise real-time creation and communication between users and participants.
Hinton, S. & Hjorth, L. (2013). Understanding social media. London: SAGE.
Kaplan, A. M., & Haenlein, M. (2010). Users of the world, unite! the challenges and opportunities of social media. In Business Horizons, 53 (10), 59-68.
Marwick, A. (2010). I tweet honestly, I tweet passionately: Twitter users, context collapse, and the imagined audience Retrieved April 19, 2016, from http://nms.sagepub.com/content/early/2010/06/22/1461444810365313
OECD (2007). Participative Web and User-created Content: Web 2.0, Wikis and Social Networking Retrieved April 20, 2016, from www.oecd.org/publishing/corrigenda
Stern, J. Introduction to Web 2.0 Technologies Retrieve April 21, 2016, from http://www.wlac.edu/online/documents/Web_2.0%20v.02.pdf
Valcke, P & Lenaerts, M (2010). Who’s author, editor and publisher in user- generated content? Applying traditional media concepts to UGC providers. In International Review of Law, Computers & Technology, 24 (1), 119-131.
Wirtz, B & Schilke, O & Ullrich, S (2010). Strategic Development of Business Models: Implications of the Web 2.0 for Creating Value on the Internet. In Long Range Planning, 43 (1), 272-290.