User Generated Content is a marketing craze” quotes Mark Ramsey at Hear 2.0 from a link to a USA Today story about MasterCard‘s recent efforts in letting “consumers” make their own versions of the famous “Priceless” ads.

I’m not sure I’d call it User Generated CONTENT as much as I’d call that User Generated Advertising. Splitting hairs? Me no thinks so.

The real draw to true UGC brands like MySpace, Flicker, YouTube, Live 365 etc… is that the primary FUNCTION of those brands is to let people create the product itself – not the advertising FOR an existing product.

With the MasterCard version – the product itself is off limits. So it’s User Generated Advertising. But even then – MasterCard plays it safe.

People ONLY get to design their own VERSION of a tried and true 8 year old ad campaign that has endless possibilities to plug in the ____ ___ ___, “priceless” formula.

A VERY VERY safe effort. Timid actually. It’s no surprise that the story gets such reverential treatment in a publication like “send us your press releases and we’ll publish them” USA Today. But I digress. ,-)

The radio equivalent of UGC has always been the request (“gimme a call and tell me what you want to hear – and we’ll try to get it on for ya”)

Let’s be honest . . . requests are largely bullshit.

Particularly when compared to the immediate satisfaction the other UGC outlets now provide. Making a request to a radio station and waiting around to hear it (maybe) just doesn’t satisfy.

In my view – UGC on Radio is an image that is best made through LOTS of LITTLE but meaningful parts – rather than 1 big stunt or promotion (even though those are essential also)

1 example of a small part.

On 1077 The Bone we have a weekly feature called “Hey Mom I’m on The Bone“.

Listeners send us their version of a Bone Radio show online.

Each week midday personality Steven Seaweed picks a Bonehead – and that person ACTUALLY COMES INTO THE STUDIO to PERFORM their radio show LIVE (with help from Steven of course)

It’s fun. It’s a tough listen sometimes if you need to hear that SMOOTH DELIVERY of a pro-announcer. But it’s LOCAL. It’s AUTHENTIC. It’s LIVE and it helps connect the audience to the brand. Normal people connect with normal people that sound just like them.
I’d love to have an internet side channel re-running these shows constantly. And yes – even an HD Radio Side Channel dedicated to it.

Ultimately – UGC is about reliquishing control. The more – the better – and the better chance for bigger buzz. But I honestly don’t think radio is ready for that.

With all the buzz, Old schoolers like us in radio are being enticed by UGC concepts.  We want to the BUZZ of UGC – BUT not any of the nastyness that comes with it.

So – in the meantime – we need to find ways to “sprinkle” UGC ideas into our reqular presentation and ideas.

Perhaps over time it will not only help our brands – it will open US up as an industry as well.



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