User generated content is a new buzz phrase that's been getting a lot of attention recently. Websites can take off in popularity if they have great user generated content, without the creators having to put much work into content creation.
What exactly is user generated content? How does it work? How do you encourage user generated content? Let's take a look.
User generated content is any content that's generated by the user base and not by content creators of the company.
High profile examples include Wikipedia and YouTube. The staff at Wikipedia and YouTube don't spend all their time creating entries or videos. Instead, their job is to make it easy for other people to create content.
Other people do, and Wikipedia and YouTube benefit from it.
Lower profile examples include forums and blog comments. Again, these aren't created by the site owner, but can still draw a lot of search engine traffic.
So how does one encourage people to create more content?
Give Them Room to Express Something They Want to Express
It's very hard to create desire. Trying to get someone to want something they don't already naturally want is very hard.
On the other hand, giving someone an avenue to talk about things they already want to talk about can be a great shortcut to amassing a ton of user generated content.
YouTube exemplifies this principle. YouTube didn't create the desire for people to share videos, they just made that desire possible through the internet.
What do your users already want to talk about that they're not able to talk about yet?