Where does UGC rank on your trust meter? 10 perspectives on User Generated Content.

This is going to be an ongoing viral tweet. and I will continue to update. I think it’s a very important topic.

I’m going to start off with a great post from Steve Rubel titled ethical social media marketing that I think we should all read and send to others.

Next here’s an article from newsweek in which the author thinks that the UGC pendulum is swinging back towards the experts.

Better read this one user-generated content site gets sued by copyright owner for naughty uploading habits of users

From an SEO perspective we have: Maximizing SEO Returns with User Generated Content

Here’s a blog dedicated to UGC

Here’s a great article by Paul Chin about the value of UGC which I highly recommend.

Want to know about the rise of user generated content? Read this article from Entrepreneur

and then the dark side-or When user generated content goes bad

Are you someone’s user generated content? and All (User-Generated) Content Doesn’t Want to Be Free:

Now at this point you should be getting the gist. So, what are your thoughts on user generated content? Do you put more trust in your peers and communities than you do traditional media, online media and word of mouth? Who’s blog do you trust? who’s opinion do you bank on? Do you find yourself spending more time online than watching or listening or reading traditional media sources?

Take the UGC Survey

How does the user measure ROI in social networks?

I’ve been wrestling with this lately and maybe you can help. If I’m the social networking user and I frequent my favorite social network everyday, how should I measure my ROI? My investment of time to the site should be rewarded with what? The quality of my experience? What exactly is that? The number of people I meet? The real people I meet? the number of people I actually communicate with? The amount of conversations? Is it the stuff I create? The amount of personal interactions? the amount of micro interactions? The number of photos or songs I share?  Is it the quality of my everyday engagement?  Yes, yes, yes, and yes…..It’s all of those things. To each person, it is one of those, or all of the above.

So perhaps it looks something like this:

Do you see the dilemma though? I had previously written about user experience versus user interface, but what it really comes down to beyond the user experience is, the return on the user expereince or  the ROUE.  As a potential user of your social site, I need YOU the marketer, builder, architect or whomever- to show me quickly what my ROUE will be.  Because lets face it, I don’t want to work too hard to engage others or create content. Perhaps it’s the WIIFM paradigm? “What’s in it for me”.

Is it the tools that are available for the user to create UGC? Is that a big feature? It is for Myspace. Is it the ability to add hundreds of “friends”? It is to Facebook. Is it the ability to network with notable people in business? It is to LinkedIn. You see each site has a different ROUE to offer the user. What keeps the user coming back in each scenario is, when we boil it down- the response, the return, the pay-off, the money shot.  We are “geeked” by the response that we receive from whomever. The user investment for the user, is their time and efforts, and the reward for the user is a response from others. Write a blog and no one reads it, how much and how long will you write? It’s predicated on a response. Take nny user generated content created in a vacuum and the creator won’t be doing it for very long.

So perhaps the measurement should be Return on user effort as much as it is Return on user experience?  Think about why YouTube is so popular. Well, it’s a few things. It’s the ability to create content for free, the ability to share it, the possibility of getting noticed, a return on the user generated content, communicating with others, a response. Notoriety. 15 minutes of fame.

So next time you’re evaluating the NBT of social networks, Look at the ROUE.  Is the return on user experience and return on user effort very high? You should be able to determine that fairly quickly. In my follow up piece, I’m going to look at ROI and engagement and how we measure those as a barometer of social media success.

10 reasons why you have no business launching a widget, yet.

“Whip up some numbers that make it look like we have, like, I don’t know, a thousand HD channels.” – Cable Corp, Inc. VP

You know those DirectTV spots that have been running as of late? A bunch of suits sitting around trying to guess what the customer might want. That’s happening a lot lately. What’s funny is that in a lot of situations, these groups have some really talented people sitting at these tables and yet they blamestorm or better yet, come up with really shitty ideas that are fast-tracked. I don’t get that. How can good smart people come up with such bad stuff? That’s probablyy a whole ‘nuther blog post in and of itself but for today we’re going to talk about something that I guarantee you is on the lips of some of these aformentioned people. Widgets.

I got a great idea, lets make a widget, that should drive some major traffic!


You don’t have a clue do you?

Reason #1 You probablly have heard of a widget but in actuality you don’t have a clue as to what they are. Widgets are essentially cute little applications that you can run on your desktop that will entertain you, provide informtaion, keep you in the loop etc. All in little snippets.  Here’s an example.

This widget helps you find cheap gas in your area. Good luck with that.



So anyways, you’re a marketer or an executive and you’ve now heard of these and sorta seen them in action and you think, we need widgets. Which leads to:

Facebook, what’s Facebook?

Reason #2 You probably don’t even know where to put your “company created” widget. Do you even know where to put it? “ok it’s built, now what”? If you’re group created it, does your company have a Facebook presence to support it since that’s generally where they thrive? How about a blog?

My audience is…

Reason #3 To build and distribute your widget, that would mean that you know exactly who are your target audience is and know that they would benefit from a widget. How well do you know your customer?

Let’s sell something and cut to the chase!

Reason #4 You will probabally bust out the sales speak on your widget and the pitch will be oozing all over your widget because you think it’s a way to sell more product. Wrong. Widgets are about branding, are about fun and are about entertainment. Though utility driven widgets are useful, they do not have the same impact as one that needs to be shared with others.

Yea we have a website, my son built it at school..

Reason #5 If your internet presence is not where it needs to be then you really don’t need to be jumping into the mix with a widget. To begin with, how do you rank organically in the search engines. What about any type of online presence? Does it exist? It’s one thing to brand a new product, but how about establishing some branding objectives for an existing product or company? What if your outfit has some negative stuff out there in cyberspace? What’s a widget going to do?

Customer service 101 and our monthly email blast

Reason #6 If you’re not talking to your customers, then you have no idea what your customers would want from a widget. If your marketing efforts are intrusion based, then chances are your widget would be the same.  If you’re talking at them, then chances are, your widget is going to miss the mark. If your marketing efforts consist of a monthly email blast with hundreds of bounce backs, then you got it going on.

If we build it, they’ll come

Reason #7 If you think your widget is going to drive traffic and sales, then you’re missing the point. Widgets are about building brand loyalty. Successful widgets encourage, promote, gather, share, and provide ways to communicate with…ta da… your customer. And ultimately a successful widget is viral.

I heard it works, isn’t that enough?

Reason #8 You don’t know what you want, and you don’t even use them, nor do you have any familiarity about them. Ahh that makes sense, let’s do it! Doesn’t it make sense to test drive something before you adopt it? Before you launch something, shouldn’t you see if its something that you are comfortable with? Do some research, knucklehead, don’t just listen to me! Here’s a nice snippet on What is a good widget from Phil Butler.

Just do it, we’ll worry about the little stuff later

Reason #9 You can’t build it on the notion or the premise that you hope it will work. You need to have a clear idea of why you’re doing it and what your expectations are. Is your message clear or will it be? Do you know what you want the deliverables to be? How you are going to measure the results?  If building a widget is something that came up in a meeting, move onto something more tangible.

The competition is doing it and thats good enough for me

Reason #10  Widgets can be and are a logical extension of your brand, but only if you’re knee deep in the online world.  You can’t just have a brochure ware type of site and expect that to be enough to push your brand over the top with a widget supporting it. The customer, the user, that you are trying to reach, is doing more now with the tools provided, than ever before.  Widgets, blogs, pod-casts, online video, pr, and microsites/landing pages are all ways to extend the reach of your brand online. But first things first. Make sure your offline house is in order and then do the requisite online things necessary before you even think about having the conversation about launching a widget. 

Have you had success building and launching a widget? have a horror story? Know of a clueless boss? What Sayeth you?

Addendum: Agencies are afraid of User Generated Content

A few days ago I wrote that the media was afraid of Web 2.0. I think what makes them more afraid, is the advent and wave of user generated content.  In an article specifically about this, titled Bud brings out the dude in consumers,  and written by Sean Egen,  Sean writes about how Anheuser-Busch decided to take things a step further by offering up its popular “Dude” campaign to the general public. And the results were impressive — even by Bud Light standards.

The offering took place in the form of a call for entries of consumer-generated “Dude” ads. Creators of the videos selected by Anheuser-Busch would be paid $5,000 each for their efforts. Along with the cash, they’d also get exposure in a highly visible online ad campaign. Bud Light would get fresh video content for a very reasonable price.effectiveone executive remarked at

“As for any concerns Bud Light may have had regarding the quality of consumer-generated content, those concerns were quickly overcome as submissions rolled in.

If you look at the current four Bud Light ‘Dude’ commercials that were produced by their agency, and compare them to our top 10 submitted versions, I think you’ll be remarkably surprised at how competitive ours are from a professionalism, acting, editing and sound point of view,” Perry said.

With what people are capable of putting together on little or no budgets anymore, the agencies should be quaking in their boots. Why? Dude…. Come on. Don’t you get it? Below is the Bud Lite Vid.

Would you rather have a budget for offline marketing, online marketing or sales?

Below is a conversation I had with Fred Yee, President of ActiveConversion/FoundPages in regards to a question that I had posed to the Linkedin group. The Question Details are below, but the main question is in the title of this post.

Me: I once had a colleague who told me he rather would have a 2 sales people rather than x amount for marketing. I had another colleague or vigorously defended marketing and branding as something that could not be ignored. It ended in a stalemate. Is it possible to have one without the other and still be realtively successful?

On 4/23/08 11:50 AM, Fred Yee wrote:
Marc, I think I understand your question and although the ‘mix’ is important, and having all is important, I may have your answer if there is only one allowed.
Today I would say online marketing. You can do a lot with a website, search marketing and email marketing, which is low cost and bring leads in, so that even non-sales (owner, manager, admin and technician even) can engage to produce sales. It’s also why Google has 800,000 customers now…
Offline is good for branding and credibility but short on producing tangible sales. Sales people can close but they need leads and without decent marketing, it’s expensive sales.
Of course, there are situations and industries where online marketing doesn’t work that well or is outperformed by the others but in general I have noticed that it works well for most.


On 4/23/08 12:52 PM, Marc Meyer wrote:
Fred, I would have to agree with you in that given all of the online productivity tools that are out there, the advent and rapid acceleration of user generated content and the ability to leveredge them at little or no cost, an inhouse team that consists of everyone from the folks in HR to the folks in IT, to the people down the hall in management, all have the opportunity to brand and market and create sales leads and marketing materials and opportunities. Which means that a collaborative effort and a sense of ownership can do more for growing a company selling a product than a single marketing department operating out of a vacuum, an autonomous sales force working without sales leads or a management team demanding results without a budget.

Thanks for responding to a great thread.

Marc, what can I say? Having been pained by this for over 15 years, I totally agree. Great minds must think alike! Fred.