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User Generated Content

Applied IT (Year 12) - Managing Data

Christian Bien

What Is User Generated Content and Can It Help Your Business? GoDaddy - The Journey

In the above video, the GoDaddy team discuss the importance of user generated content and how it can assist a business.

What is User Generated Content?

The image above is of Google reviews for a Japanese Restaurant in Victoria Park. These reviews are provided by strangers but can influence a diner's decision on where to eat. 

User Generated Content (UGC) is where voluntary contributors can publish online content. Some popular examples include:

  • Wikipedia

  • Social Networks - Facebook, Twitter, Youtube

  • Forums - eg Whirlpool, Reddit

  • Review Websites - Zomato, Google Reviews

  • Online Classifieds - Gumtree

Advantages of User Generated Content

Below are several key advantages of user-generated content:

  • Free - The website owner does not have to pay staff to produce content

  • General Feedback is Seen as Reliable - General user opinions can be viewed as valuable towards feedback and decision making - e.g. checking the rating of a restaurant before deciding where to eat.

  • Self-policing opportunities - Forums can be monitored by voluntary moderators

  • Keeps users engaged - Users often participate in discussions with one another, keeping users engaged and increasing the number of returned users. It adds to the engagement of users without any significant work from the business. 

Disadvantages of User Generated Content

Below are some key disadvantages of user generated content:

  • Bias - Users often hold strong opinions about a topic and often don't contribute a balanced perspective.

  • Lack of reliability and creditability - Anyone can publish content, from a 5-year-old to a University professor, therefore, user generated content has to be taken with a pinch of salt. There's no guarantee that information presented in user generated content is factual and that is why Wikipedia has a poor reputation and often avoided in referencing

  • Online defamation risk - Users can publish false, offensive or inappropriate content, which could pose a legal liability towards the website owner. In February, 2016, an online user on TripAdvisor, wrote a defaming review of Gold Coast hotel - Paradise Resort. Such comments could negatively impact the business by deterring future guests from staying at the hotel.

  • Confusion over Intellectual Property - Who owns user generated content? There is often confusion over who owns user generated content and how it can be used.

Case Study: Business to pay $215,000 in penalties for fake testimonials

In 2015, a carpet cleaning franchisor was ordered to pay $215,000 for fake testimonials on the internet. 

The Court found that Electrodry posted, and requested that its franchisees post, customer testimonials about the quality of carpet cleaning services when those customers were fabricated and the services had not been provided. These fake reviews were published on websites including Google, True Local and Yelp. 

The ACCC took Electrodry to court over false and misleading advertising.

Read the full press release by the ACCC here.

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