The future of user-generated content
User-generated content is driving the next stage in the growth of the internet. Larissa Bannister examines the opportunities for brands and agencies in Digital Bulletin, the daily digital newsletter of Brand Republic.

Most of the current buzz-words in digital marketing (blogging, podcasting, social networking) and most of the websites being fought over by the big media conglomerates have one thing in common: they are built on user-generated content. [...] The web is stuffed full of video and text uploaded by people who want to share what they’re doing with the world.

It’s a shift that is behind the growth of what people are calling Web 2.0 – the second phase of the internet. This time around, it’s not only about the amount of time people are spending online (significant though that is), it’s also about what they’re doing online. And what they’re doing is creating content and sharing it with each other.

According to Nigel Morris, the chief executive of the Aegis-owned digital network Isobar, this change means the media market itself is moving from an old and inflexible model to an environment of infinite flexibility, where content from anywhere can be viewed by anyone.

This might sound scary to a market built around a traditional broadcasting model. But, in fact, it’s also an opportunity for media owners, advertisers and agencies alike. By getting involved in user-generated content, you can get people more involved in your brand than they ever have been before, increase their loyalty, even make them your brand advocates. And you can find out exactly what they think about your product.

For brands, this means a change from traditional marketing methods such as advertising to getting involved in dialogues with consumers. “It’s not about your message any more,” Morris says. “Now, it’s all about whose consumers are telling the best stories about them.”

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