I recently had the good fortune to talk to Ed O’brien, part of the business development team at Chute. Chute is an amazing little company that utilizes user generated content (UGC) to promote brands. Their platform allows businesses to 1) discover, 2) engage and 3) secure permission to use the content and, 4) empower their fans by using their content. This is great business model for numerous reasons.
Visual: It’s the best medium for digital interaction. (As evidenced by Chute’s recent Visual Revolution Summit) The web has transitioned from document-based to a visual medium, partially due to mobile’s increasing dominance. And it looks more like a TV anyway!
Trust: no ones trusts businesses. They trust peers. When a peer posts content in support of a brand, it’s much more likely to garner a reaction.
Real engagement is created when brands collaborate with their enthusiasts. The engagement extends beyond the co-creation of the the content and will most likely end up as close to a commitment as a business can get.
Experience: UGC tends to promote the experience of using the product/service more than simply the product/service. Experiences resonate! (Content 101)
I can also see a couple of challenges with this type of model.
Extraction: I posted last year about the increasingly visual nature of social web and the challenges of extracting meaningful data out of those images. Right now, Chute and other agencies that utilize UGC rely on hashtags, but many people don’t use them. (Even though Facebook has joined the club, I don’t expect adoption to increase that much.) I was shocked when I took an informal poll of incoming freshmen this year and only 5% actively use hashtags.
Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic: I recently completed a project with a client and we found several users on Pinterest that were posting a metric ton of images/comments in the hopes that they would be rewarded. Chute’s is definitely a curated model and will need to stay that way.
Opinions: Ed brought up an excellent point about data, “Everyone has their own opinion with respect to what kinds of data is important.” This will make metrics a challenge and I imagine that data sets will be standardized by business model type i.e. brick & mortar, online only, retail, service focused, etc. That matrix will need to be created and I believe that’s a part of the Big Boulder Initiative. At the very least, those standards will need to be developed so that marketers can generate meaningful ROI.
“Hijacking” – There is always the chance for backlash when it comes to using someone elses media to promote anything. I can see some having an issue with Chute’s product Tiny Meme, although I love the idea and would willingly use it.
In the end, I’m excited about Chute’s chances of utilizing what I’ve called Citizen Branders and have had success with the 2013, Presidential Inauguration. I’m also really hoping for geo-location applications (not apps).
The real benefit that Chute provides is that they’re a one-stop shop for UGC and the ability to manage those rights. This alone makes them a valuable tool for any marketer. “We’re the Getty Images of user generated content and love to help our customers utilize this potent marketing ecosystem.” Mr. O’Brien shared. I can’t wait to use them with one of my clients!