Your UGC… for ‘a chance to win’?

This blog post was originally posted through my LinkedIn profile, in an effort to understand how commercial entities place value on user-generated content.

The allure of becoming a travel writer, food reviewer or entertainment critic has been the Jewel of the Nile for many. I spent seven years working for free, niche and super niche publications to get the chance to ‘create content’ for Lonely Planet, so I understand the allure.

When you want create content (writing, photography, music) having the added bonus of being paid to do it adds to the prestige – that a publication/organisation values your opinion and trusts your judgement enough to pay you is one of the highest compliments someone can receive.

Some people may not be motivated by this type of recognition, instead are happy to share their thoughts on a restaurant’s butter chicken curry or a hotel’s lack of comfortable pillows via a review website.

But if a company is attempting to increase its user generated content (UGC) volume on a large scale, thereby bumping its SEO and sharable social content for the price of a tablet device, you wonder whether it’s just exploitation.

Gogobot has been attempting to muscle into the online UGC review field for a few years, playing catch up to sites like TripAdvisor and Yelp. In an effort to raise its level of UGC it has launched a competition in which people are encouraged to review their favorite local restaurant, bar or hotel experience to accrue a point score, with the “more you review, the higher your score”.

The prize? An iPad Mini.

While Gogobot qualify that “the winner will be selected from among those finalists based on review quality”, what happens to the rest of the content that has been submitted? When a community is encouraged to provide ‘as many reviews’ as they can for ‘a chance to win’, is their content really valued?

Grabs for UGC isn’t a new concept in the online ‘content economy’, but shouldn’t community creativity and time be adequately rewarded?

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