Tutorial: Kai Soh, Tuesday 5pm
Participation and Users Created Content
Today, social media is everywhere. The amount of social media users has shown an explosive increase. It connects people’s lives seamlessly. Under this circumstance, the initiative and awareness of social media users are continuous improving. Other than traditional media, user participation lies at the core of contemporary social media. Social media platforms from all industries are trying their best to engage as many as possible users to participate.
In this article, I would review the relevant concept, the practical examples and how our campaign relates to the theory.
The new trend of contemporary social media is ‘participation.’ Days are gone when users passively received information from mass media. Any communicative act presupposes the existence of interacting participants. (Chovanec&Dynel, 2015) The specific ways of participation applied in social media are user generated content (UGC), which users forward content made by others and user created content (UCC), which the content is made by the user. (Hjorth & Hinton, 2013)
UCC, short for User Created Content, developed on the premise of Web 2.0 which is the new network communication environments. It refers to the concept people provide their original content to others users via the internet. UCC is not a particular service, but a new way for users to use social media, that is, from the original download to both download and upload. In UGC model, users are no longer audiences. Users become both consumers and participants. (Hjorth & Hinton, 2013) Many famous social media platforms like YouTube, Twitter and Yelp can be seen as successful examples of UCC. Community networks, video sharing, blogs, and podcasts are all main applications of UCC.
Another idea of the audience as a media producer takes the idea of participation to another level. Hjorth & Hinton argue that user becomes the source of the original material instead of directly responding to content that has been created by an organization. Australian academic Bruns uses the term ‘produser’ to describe a conflation of the words producer and user.
In the era of Web 2.0, social media would gradually apply the principle of open and participation. The social media became more reliable on users involvement and construction than they used to. All content on UCC platforms is generated by users instead of a particular bunch of people in old times. These content online demonstrates different personalities would appeal more users to participate and post their view on the social media platform. Thus, the rapid increasing of social media information would promote to the accumulation and dissemination of human knowledge. However, it should be noticed that there could be a lot of mistakes, fake and one-sided information since every single person can create content. Thus, critical thinking is required when receiving information from UCC platforms.
The key word of Web 2.0 is participation. UGC appeared by the development of the concept of Web2.0 with personalized as the main features.
The most common way to engage users on social media platforms is adding hashtags and Reese’s applied this to their campaign. In 2006, Reese’s cooperated with the NCAA to become the official sponsor of March Madness for the 4th year in a row. Reese’s launched a campaign on Twitter with the hashtag ##MarchMood, #MarchMadness and #FinalFour. They posted incredible pieces with beautiful visuals that celebrated both March Madness and Reese’s. Moreover, the copywriting for these posts was completely right.
During the whole campaign, Reese’s shared seasonal recipes, interesting memes and a lot of short videos to engage their audience. They managed to up engagement by 416% from the 2015 NCAA tournament. What’s more, their #MarchMood hashtag created 73% of the total engagement on Facebook and Twitter. (Jose, 2016)
Make the most use of a trending hashtag or event. It is one of the easiest ways brands can have conversations and break the ice with social media users. Thus, it can attract UCC from other users and leads to better brand engagement.
Another interesting case applying audience engagement is the Comedy Central’s The Daily Show hidden videos. Usually, it is difficult and rare for a talk show to engage with its audience sit in front of the television. However, when Jon Stewart, who hosted this program for nearly 20 years, announced leaving the Daily Show, it is necessary to provoke audience’s interest toward the new host who is going to take the baton.
The website bought Google advertisements with links to particular videos about Trever Noah’s name along with popular search keywords such as Trevor Noah tweets, Trevor Noah age, Trevor Noah girlfriend, etc. Those terms are usually looked up by people for information about celebrities. All videos about Trever Noah were unlisted so users should manually search it instead of access it directly.
In order to encourage discussion and engagement on social media platforms, Comedy Central did not reveal how many of these videos were around and the keywords created secret videos. This made the campaign buzzworthy and interesting.
This campaign was a great success. By February 2016, it has accumulated 38 million impressions in total which lead to 2.8 million views. What’s more, Google signaled that viewers watched more than 85% of the video on average. (Eunice, 2016)
UCC and ‘be the filter’
The Web in current era could be described as a social media platform which focuses on users’ abilities to read, generate, re-mix and contribute content in a user-friendly manner without the need to know the professional knowledge. (Veletsianos, 2013) As a result, even social media use patterns are different between each country, millions of individuals worldwide log on their social media account on a daily basis (Singh, Lehnert & Bostick, 2012). Under this circumstance, regulation for UCC is hard to apply. People use their online identity instead of real life identity if social media platform to create, upload and forward. It seems they do not need to be responsible for their speech from online identities. Many problems like polluted information, copyright infringement are spread on social media platforms. Under this circumstance, our campaign, be the filter, is mainly focused on the contaminated information phenomenon on UCC website. The platform we chose to conduct our campaign is Twitter. It has more than three million users and become the largest platform for posting breaking news. Polluted information is widespread on Twitter without regulation.
There is no denying that the problem of fake news does exist on UCC platforms. And there is no filtering mechanism on social media platform like Twitter. Thus, the purpose of our campaign is to set such filtering mechanism in users’ mind. That is to say, to promote the ability of critical thinking and the method to spot fake news from the real one. Our campaign would add different hashtags in our content to attract UCC from producers. People could share their story about fake news and critical thinking under these hashtags. Thus appeal more engagement of other people.
In this information era, participation and UCC are widely applied on the internet. Many social media based on UCC theory appeared. The generation of UCC alleviates the cognitive load of users and improves the effectiveness of the communication. Users became producers and consumers at the same time. UCC is the carrier of the value of communication. It combined the effectiveness of creativity and communication.
However, the deficiencies of UCC still exist. Polluted information is still widely spread. This requires a certain degree of users’ standardization and management. It is necessary to ensure the user’s innovation, and against polluted information, fake news and anti-rational content should be curbed.
Hinton, S., & Hjorth, L. (2013). Understanding social media (1st ed.). Los Angeles, CA [, etc.]: SAGE.
Daniel, Marta, and Jan Chovanec. Participation in Public and Social Media Interactions, edited by Marta Dynel, and Jan Chovanec, John Benjamins Publishing Company, 2015. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com.ezproxy1.library.usyd.edu.au/lib/usyd/detail.action?docID=1930006.
Jose Angelo Gallelos, The Best Social Media Marketing Campaigns of 2016, (2016), from
Eunice David, 2016, Top 10 Influential Social Media Marketing Campaigns of 2016, from
Singh, N., Lehnert, K. & Bostick, K. (2012). Global social media usage: insights into reaching consumers worldwide. Thunderbird International Business Review, 54, 5, 683–700.
Veletsianos, G. v. (2013). Open practices and identity: Evidence from researchers and educators’ social media participation. British Journal Of Educational Technology, 44(4), 639-651.