Assessment 3

Online Participation and User Created Content

By: Mengyao Su (430554647)

Tutorial Time: Thursday 9am-12pm, Fiona Andreallo

As social media has become one of the most important communication tools for modern people, more and more scholars have tried to study the impact and significance of social media on media and society. In this article, I will focus on the participative feature of social media, exploring how the use of produsage can influence both online and offline activities. Firstly, I will explain the concept of online participation and User Created Content, describing their definition and application. Secondly, I will go through Sam Hinton and Larissa Hjorth’s article on this topic, and analyse how they ground their arguments with empirical evidence. And lastly, I will explain how this concept can be utilized to my own work for the semester.

Participation and User Created Content

Social media can be seen as a participative medium (Hinton & Hjorth, 2013). It provides an opportunity for users to actively sharing information about what they are doing, or what their opinions are on certain things (Hinton & Hjorth, 2013). Hence, the users of social media are no longer just consumers, they become active participants (Hinton & Hjorth, 2013). There are two aspects of participation in social media (Hinton & Hjorth, 2013). First of all, the audience can provide public responses (Hinton & Hjorth, 2013). For example, after reading an online article or blog post, the audience can post their comments and thoughts underneath to respond, providing their opinions on what they have read, sharing thoughts with other audiences, and even communicating with the author.


(Soong, 2016)

And the second aspect of participation is that the audience can also be media producers (Hinton & Hjorth, 2013). They become the source of the original material (Hinton & Hjorth, 2013). They can post videos, images and words online to share with other people, who they might not even know in real life (Hinton & Hjorth, 2013). Therefore, instead of being passive and receiving information from others, they become more active and can provide information themselves. In this sense, they are the producer of social media (Hinton & Hjorth, 2013). For instance, on YouTube, people keep posting funny videos about things happening in their daily lives. And these videos can be watched by millions of people all around the world. From the moment they are being posted online, the Internet users who post them become the media producers themselves.

youtube cat video

(mugumogu, 2009)

From the above, we can see that, due to social media’s participative mode of use, most of the contents on social media platforms are created by users (Hinton & Hjorth, 2013), such as YouTube videos and Instagram pictures. When these contents are created purposefully by users and uploaded to the Internet through social media for the aim of being seen by other users, then they can be categorized as User Created Content (UCC) (Hinton & Hjorth, 2013). Hence, User Created Content refers to those contents produced intentionally by certain users for the purpose of consumption by other users on social media (Hinton & Hjorth, 2013). For example, Wikipedia can be seen as one of the world’s largest online platforms for User Created Content (Hinton & Hjorth, 2013). Anyone can provide information or amend information on Wikipedia (Hinton & Hjorth, 2013). It becomes an online knowledge repository (Hinton & Hjorth, 2013), so that online users can get information about anything they could think of.


(“University of Sydney”, n.d.)

Sam Hinton and Larissa Hjorth’s Article

In Hinton and Hjorth’s article, they explained and analysed the concept of User Created Content in details. First of all, they explained how social media works as a participative medium (Hinton & Hjorth, 2013). According to Hinton and Hjorth, social media users are ‘produsers’ (Hinton & Hjorth, 2013). They are the source and producers of the contents online (Hinton & Hjorth, 2013). These contents that are created by users are usually defined as User Created Content (UCC) (Hinton & Hjorth, 2013). And the process of UCC can be called ‘produsage’, which is combined by the words production and usage.

Secondly, they used four examples to illustrate the use of produsage on social media, including crowd sourcing, Wikipedia, citizen journalism and online activism (Hinton & Hjorth, 2013). In Hinton and Hjorth’s opinion, with the help of the contents created by online users, problems can be solved more effectively. Just as a traditional Chinese saying “many hands make light work”, a large group of people can always achieve something that an individual cannot. Therefore, User Created Content is often utilized for crowd sourcing (Hinton & Hjorth, 2013). And Wikipedia can be seen as one of the most successful examples. It makes the crowd’s User Created Contents become the source of information, and the process of crowd sourcing can generally improve the quality of the whole source over time (Hinton & Hjorth, 2013). Moreover, Hinton and Hjorth used the example of citizen journalism and online activism to demonstrate the impact of produsage on not only users’ engagement with the Internet, but also their engagement with the society (Hinton & Hjorth, 2013). Based on Hinton and Hjorth’s ideas, citizen journalism and online activism are both examples of participation online. They both provide User Created Content to people from all over the world. Through the process of participation and produsage, people’s online behaviours can be influenced by offline realities (Hinton & Hjorth, 2013). Meanwhile, the real-world concerns can also impact their online behaviours (Hinton & Hjorth, 2013).

Utilization of User Created Content

After understanding the concept of User Created Content, I can apply it to our group’s social media project during the semester. For our group, we planned to design a social media campaign for the University of Sydney Conservatorium of Music Concerts. And we can make use of User Created Content in our audience engagement strategies. For example, after attending a concert, some audiences may post User Created Content on social media platforms, such as concert pictures on Instagram, and concert reflections and thoughts on Facebook. Then we can try to find them and share them on our own social media platforms. In this way, we can build a bridge for audiences to not only communicate with us, but also share feelings with each other. Meanwhile, besides finding User Created Content from audiences, we can also create our own contents. For instance, we should post details about the Concerts on different social media platforms to provide information to the audiences. Moreover, we can share backstage photos to make User Created Content more diverse, so that it can attract more attention. By applying these strategies, we hope that they will influence audiences’ behaviours on both online and offline. On one hand, they may motivate audiences to attend the Concerts in real life. On the other hand, they may trigger more User Created Content produced by the audiences.


In conclusion, participation and User Created Content are very important concepts for social media communication. In Sam Hinton and Larissa Hjorth’s article, they have explained these concepts with evidence and examples. In short, social media can be seen as participative media. Users are not passive receivers of information, but active producers of contents. And these User Created Contents have significant impacts on not only online activities, but also offline societies. Therefore, it is important to consider how to make use of User Created Contents to achieve certain purposes on social media.





Hinton, Sam, & Hjorth, Larissa. (2013). Participation and User Created Content. In Understanding Social Media (pp. 55-76). London: SAGE Publications Ltd. Retrieved April 17, 2017, from

mugumogu. (2009, January 11). This is Long [Video file]. Retrieved April 17, 2017, from

Soong, Christina. (2016, September 28). Everyday Pavlova [Web log post]. Retrieved April 17, 2017, from

University of Sydney. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved April 17, 2017, from


2 thoughts on “Online Participation and User Created Content

  1. Hi Mengyao, thanks for your piece on participation and UCC. I agree that social network sites are impossible without a two-way conversation because, as we have learnt this semester, without a vessel to create discussion, a SNS site becomes obsolete online media.

    It got me thinking about the way web 2.0 has advanced our online interaction and, more saliently, how our willingness to participate is being exploited by companies, who infiltrate our siloed ‘feeds’ to market their products. We are constantly being asked to “share an image and win” or to “leave a clever comment and reap the benefits”. A startlingly large group of people (me included) obediently follow and cross their fingers, waiting for the results to fall in their favour.

    In this advertising’s genesis, such a call and answer approach to social network could formerly be classified as user generated content (UGC). Hinton and Hjorth wrote that UGC is when “users forward content made by others,” (2013, p.55).

    As creative digital tools become more accessible and easy to use, these more sophisticated campaigns can increasingly be categorised as UCC, which, according to Hinton and Hjorth is content “made by the user” (2013, p.55).

    Generating quality UCC used to take significant commitment and was often left to the most talented, zealous or time-rich people to participate in, often leaving people alienated or fearful of such methods. Now, the online community is less wary of this promotional method and are keen to get involved in the conversation.

    So we’ve moved on from watching advertising, to sharing it, to commenting on it, and now making it. I can’t imagine what’s next, but I think whoever comes up with tomorrow’s trend will make a seismic impact on web 2.0 users, whether they feel the shift or not.

    – Jack Lynch


  2. Hi Mengyao, thanks for sharing your reflections of participation and UCC. First of all, I think your article is easy to follow as the structure is very clear with the use of subtitles. The first paragraph also gives a good preview to readers.

    The concept of UCC is closely related to “produser” which is discussed in my own article. I found sometimes it’s a little difficult to distinguish UCC from UGC. For example, some hot reposts on micro blog are just from users who sharing their opinions without the expectation to be popular, which could be defined as UGC. While others may be well-designed to attract audience’s attention. According to Hinton and Hjorth (2013), these contents with “the purpose of consumption by other users” are UCC.

    The examples like YouTube and Wikipedia you use to explain the concept of UCC are very typical and suitable, and it won’t confuse the readers. However, I have a different idea of the content generated by the audience in your campaign. You regard the pictures and reflections posted by users as UCC, but personally I think they are more likely a record of their experience as UGC rather than a carefully drafted content “produced intentionally by users”(Hinton& Hjorth, 2013,p.55.). Their purpose of generating the content and the motivation of UCC from your campaign are not illustrated. It might be better if you save more effort for relating back to your campaign and explain the strategies in the article.


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