Opinion

Why user-generated content is the power behind the throne

Content is not king, engagement is – so focus on capturing audiences by giving them the tools to create their own content says Paul Cotton.

In a world where digital strategists consistently say content is king it’s important to remember content is predominantly used to engage audiences.

Is it perhaps worth considering engagement itself is the power behind the throne and content is just a charming figurehead? And really, anyone can put a figurehead together.

While that may seem to be at odds with brands and their attempts to gain attention, it’s actually a good thing. More companies are developing initiatives that incorporate some form of user-generated content or UGC for those in the know.

Lego is a perfect example with their Cuusoo site where creative folk submit designs they would like to see the company produce. Their Build With Chrome site, which works with Google maps to allow people to build houses on ‘plots’ of land is another great approach.

Author Neal Stephenson’s recent venture on Kickstarter is ripe with opportunity for its (rather niche) audience to invest their time and emotions. His aim is to develop a platform for virtual sword fighting. It’s called CLANG and while Stephenson will start everyone off with a framework and set of rules for battling with broadswords, the real upswing is going to come from the community who will be given the tools to develop their own rulesets and fighting techniques.

Creating or reinvigorating your product, service, or campaign so the wider world can involve themselves with it is a growing trend with online services. Look to game makers to see who’s doing it best and remember there’s always a way to apply an idea or variation to your personal cause. Lego Cuusoo might not even be here had crowd-sourced shirt designer Threadless not existed before it.

There are a multitude of ways to engage audiences and let them have fun producing content for you, just give them the tools and the opportunity to do it.

Paul Cotton is a social media strategist at Salmat Digital.

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