Why Being a Content Generator is Awesome
User-generated content is a hot topic today, but when I see it pop up in news stories, UGC is typically framed as some sort of resource or data that comes from other people- some faceless crowd of strangers.
The few “content generators” that do get depicted in the media are more often than not adventurous activists, risking life and limb to provide on-the-ground reporting in the midst of a violent protest or revolution in a media-starved country.
We Are All Content Generators
In reality, nearly all of us are content generators, and creating user-generated content is very rarely something so involved as taking on the role of a serious reporter and giving everything up to share information on a cause or event.
The vast majority of user-generated content (that has just as profound an impact on our lives) is created by everyday people doing very simple things like answering questions, leaving comments, and posting status updates.
What about you?
Do you consider yourself to be a content generator?
What do Content Generators Do?
Very simply put, user-generated content is media that is created by the people, for the people, so whenever you...
- Leave comments on articles and videos
- Leave reviews of products
- Leave ratings of restaurants and hotels
- Post status updates and tweets on Facebook and Twitter
- Upload videos and photos
- Contribute edits to wiki sites
- Publish online articles
- Publish blog posts
- Post something to a forum or imageboard
- Publish a podcast
- Ask or answer a question on Q&A sites
… you are acting as a content creator.
Because your actions as a content generator might seem a bit mundane, you might find yourself wondering if being a ‘content generator’ has any special meaning at all. I assure you, it does!
By contributing to the greater pool of user-generated content on the Internet (which itself extends to the classroom, kitchen, board room, bedroom, etc.), you are, in your own small way, influencing modern media, education, culture, and politics.
Being a content creator gives you both power and responsibility.
Content Creation and Power
You have the power to influence; to share your ideas, persuade others, contribute to a cultural tipping point, and provide fresh perspectives. Even by re-blogging and slightly altering other user-generated content you come across online, you can build upon existing trends and paradigm shifts to help them mature and gain momentum. You can become part of a much larger movement and help it reach new heights.
You also have the power to build your own movements and create your own online presence. The ease of creating and sharing content online has made it more possible than ever for people to build their own followings and brands. I’ve seen many people come online with very little experience even basic email etiquette, and in a matter of months, have hundreds of online friends and followers, several Facebook groups, a personal website, an ebook, and an online store. Obviously only a few people see wild fame and success online, but the brilliance of being a content creator is that one enjoys many of the same blue sky opportunity enjoyed by pioneers as they made their way out to the uncharted American West.
Those who do have the dedication, talent, and luck to see significant and sustained online success as content creators also have the power to make a significant amount of money. Some content creators who start out as obscure e-book publishers or vloggers end up getting their own book deals and shows. Many more see more moderate, but still significant success. Many online writers, for example, earn enough money from ad revenue on their published content to pay their monthly rent or take their families to Disney World every year.
Are you careful?
Do you conduct careful background research and seek out trustworthy, valid information sources?
Content Creation & Responsibility
As they say, great power comes with great responsibility, and content generators are by no means excluded from this conventional wisdom.
As a content generator, it is your responsibility to share quality, genuine user-generated content. There are quite a few content generators out there who are only in it for the money, and create thin, crummy content stuffed awkwardly with black hat SEO sawdust. These people harm the world of user-generated content by suppressing good content that would otherwise show up first in search engine results (Google Search and other search engines do their best to fight these folks, but one can only get so far in a perpetual game of cat and mouse).
Because user-generated content is often tied to very time-sensitive subjects, content generators are frequently tempted to cut corners. Everyone online- from amateur bloggers to seasoned reporters- has been found sharing information that isn’t verified and turns out to be untrue. Despite high pressures (and lack of oversight) an honest content generator is responsible for making an earnest effort to verify the information he shares. Findings should be researched, sources should be verified, and data should be solid.
Go Forth and Change the World!
Participating in the online world of user-generated content is a big deal- even if you’re just contributing the odd tweet and comment. As a content generator, you are shaping our collective consciousness and contributing to a body of knowledge from which the world benefits immensely. Accept the power and responsibility that comes with this privilege- and wield it with pride!