With the development of the Internet and technology, people are used to use social media as one of their most significant platform in information searching and ideas expressing, such as Facebook, twitter, instagram and sina Weibo. Those various platforms at the same time have different characteristics. Then, it comes to a quite important issue-how to encourage audience participate efficiently via those social media and does it helpful to promotion. According to Hinton and Hjorth (2013), normally agency may use two type of content in social media operating: User-Created Content and User-Generated Content. In this essay, I will firstly provide my understanding to the definitions from Hinton and Hjorth(2013), then I will list example and my personal project to do futher explanation. Thirdly, I will provide my understanding of the benefits in participation improving.
It is defined by Hinto and Hjorth (2013) that User-Generated Content (UGC) means users forward others’ content and User-Created Concept (UCC) means users express their own idea and create independent content via social media. In other words, also according to Balasubramaniam (2009), User-Generated Content has three main features: has access to connect with other people, has personal expression and also can get recognition back. For instance, in sina Weibo, “ forward Weibo” can be analyzed as: 1.user use his/her personal account to forward, personal identity therefore has already been displayed; 2.no matter what kind of weibo user chooses to forward, it can meet requirement to that user/ participator, such as interest, knowledge, or can have reward back; 3.when the forward behavior happens, user at the same time has the connection and interaction online with content creator. Not only “ Forward”, but also the behavior of “thumb up” in Weibo can be treated as User-Generated Content, Only the levels of contribution are different. However, although social media site usually provide many functions to encourage users to participate in, only a few of people would like to interact online. According to Arthur’s report (2006), in a 100 people group, only 1 of them may become content creator, and 10 of them may have possibility to do interaction and the others are all viewers. Hence, motivating users into interaction and even creating content become one of most important task for social media sites to keep their public attention. There is one successful example in China.
The platform is called “ZHIHU”, similar with Quora, which is the biggest Chinese social Question& Answer website. The slogan of this website is to share your knowledge to others and explore a bigger world. From the slogan it can be found that the platform of “ZHIHU” is actually based on a combination of “User-Generated Content” and “ User-Created Content”. Actually, Zhihu has opened to public in 2011, how does it become successful in five years?
Firstly, it has various functions with a high level of sociality. For example, users can not only simply ask/ answer questions, but also invite other user who they think maybe has good idea to the question to answer. Therefore, the function of “invite directly” on the one hand may fulfill the content, on the other hand may avoid the embarrassment of no interaction. In addition, if any one has similar ideas with the answer or may disagree with the answer, they can choose to do “ thumb up”, “thumb down” or “reply” with the specific answer. They can also answer that question by themselves. At this stage, the content is made, edited and further discussed by users. Apart from normal users, ZHIHU operation staffs are also able to ask questions. Staffs usually ask questions which relates to the recent social hot issues, such as “ milk scandal”, “ tax avoidance”. All of questions has key words hash tag and are linked to search engine. Even people who are not ZHIHU user but have interest to that hot issues, they may find the ZHIHU question when search via search engine. If they also want to share their idea to that hot issue, then they may become ZHIHU new user. Besides, ZHIHU also provides the special column for people who has professional ideas in a certain areas, such as art, film, architecture, or politics, humanities. Those chosen users already have a group of fans and social reputation. They usually use special column to create content which has their strong personality. Other users can comment, forward or simply do “ thumb up/ down” to do interaction. Different from bloggers on other social media site, every user on ZHIHU should sign up with their real name and identification. In other words, every account on ZHIHU and every relationship which is built on ZHIHU is real. According to Hinton and Hjorth (2013),citizen journalism may not have enough transparency and truthiness. With the permission of real-name system, ZHIHU improve the quality of content and also decrease the risk of online participation.
In my personal project, I also have planned to develop “User-Generated Content” and “ User-Created Content” on my social media site. I have planned to expand online effect of Duck King Sydney and my target audiences are Chinese young adults and regular customer before. I have operated sina Weibo, Wechat and Wechat to do promotion. The ways I used to encourage users into participation are as following:
Initially, I use hashtag to highlight the key words. For example, when I post spicy duck neck on Instagram, I use eleven hot hashtags which also has relation with my picture to attract potential audience, such as spicy, Chinese food receipe, or simply eat.
Therefore, because of the characteristics of Instagram, any one who is interest at spicy food or Chinese food may has possible in reading and interacting with this picture. In the end, the comment from the user whose name is “spicyaddict_ la” shows that those hashtags work.
Secondly, I have organized “give away gift” activity in Wechat to push users participate. Any one who wants to get free product should share the promotion article to their moments and get enough “ like” from their friends. Moreover, they are also required to post feedback, both visual and verbal text, online. Therefore, those users have changed their way from simply generate content to create their personal feeling online. On the one hand, those feedback have improve the brand effect of Duck King Sydney. On the other hand, it also increase users’ personal activeness among their friends moments.
From the example of ZHIHU and my personal project, personally I want to summarize the benefits of using “User-Generated Concept” and “User-Created Concept” well as: firstly, it may make the social media site become more interactive. An interactive social media site may increase loyalty and interest from users. They may think what they have done truly contribute to the platform. Secondly, it may diversify the content itself. If there are more people who can devote to the content, then the quality, transparency and truthiness of content can be improved to a large extent.
- Hinton, S., & Hjorth, L. (2013). Participation and User Created Content in Understanding Social Media (pp. 55 – 76). London: SAGE Publications Ltd.
- Arthur, C. (2006) ‘What’s the 1% Rule?’, The Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2006/jul/20/guardianweeklytechnologysection2
3. Balasubramaniam, N. (2009). User- Generated Content in Business Aspects of the Internet of Things (pp. 28-33). Available at: https://www1.ethz.ch/im/education/FS09/iotsem09_proceedings.pdf#page=28