Think twice before giving away your UGC

Published on 2013-08-01 by John Collins.


For those of you unfamiliar with the term, UGC stands for User Generated Content. It is the term widely used in the Internet industry to represent the content generated by the users of websites.

Some common examples include:

Why is UGC so important?

"For many websites, UGC is their main product"

For many websites, UGC is their main product. They use UGC to attract in more users, via search engines or via links to the content being shared. The more users they get, the more revenue they can make from running advertisements right along side the UGC.

All content is important for generating traffic, but UGC is better because for the business running the website, UGC is effectively free.

What's in it for me?

As a user, before we submit our content to a website, we have to asks ourselves, what's in it for me? In an Internet where people are continually adding content to websites via their smart phones, their tablets, and their computers: it is important that they realize that they are adding their UGC to the "content wealth" of that website before they hit on that post button.

Many websites encourage people to add their UGC via what is termed game mechanics (or gamification), which rewards users with ego/status boosts or unlocks additional features. Some examples:

"Many websites encourage people to add their UGC via what is termed game mechanics"

Don't click on that comment button

It is all designed to entice you into providing more UGC, and frankly it works. For most of us, the psychological imperatives are just too strong. The first step in getting out of a trap however is first acknowledging its existence.

My advice: keep the content you hold dearest on your own website or blog, running on your own platform, otherwise you are giving away your best online assets far too cheaply.