Nearly half (49 per cent) of online users have engaged with user-generated content (UGC) in the past month by actively creating or simply reading material posted by others.
In a study titled "User-Generated Content: Strategies for Media Sites", JupiterResearch reports that UGC is now a mainstream activity for millions of consumers.
According to the study, users under the age of 25 are especially active participants. Three-quarters of users 18 to 25 are reading or writing UGC, and few of them are passive participants.
Analyst at JupiterResearch, Barry Parr, said, "The relative youth of UGC users provides an opportunity for publishers to address consumers they have been unable to reach off-line.
"UGC is an important means of attracting younger users to the online sites of traditional media properties with whom they have no existing relationship."
Although younger online users are clearly the leading consumers of UGC, it would be a mistake to think of UGC as limited to the young.
According to the study, a third (34 per cent) of those over age 55 are participating in UGC as well.
Additionally, active users of UGC haven't abandoned off-line media for online, but they are learning to balance the two.
Both The Los Angeles Times and Washington Post had to shutter UGC initiatives recently when unmoderated discussions spun out of control.
Parr went on, "The challenge for media companies trying to reach this audience is learning where to draw the line between uncontrolled communication and the kind of editing they do in their own work.”
President of JupiterResearch, David Schatsky added, "Users of UGC are a population representative of the transition from traditional media to online media.
“They are still heavy users of traditional media, but online media play an equally important role in their lives”He concluded, "Engaging the interest of UGC users is strategic to engaging the interest of the most committed online users and the advertisers who want to reach them."
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