The Future of Online Business: User generated content and how to leverage it’s benefits for your business

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One of the best articles that I have read in a long time is on User Generated content and the future of Online Business in the latest Inc. magazine article on Threadless, a user-generated t-shirt company from Chicago. In it they describe a model currently being analyzed by the Harvard Business School as the future of online business and possibly business as a whole. As the current generation of social media savvy consumers evolves from myspace, facebook and twitter to embrace mobile media and content on-demand, very soon (if you haven’t noticed already) we will begin seeing a major shift in how content is produced and requested by audiences. While many large corporations have already jumped on the band wagon and started blogging or hiring ad agencies to produce blog worthy videos for viral marketing campaigns via YouTube combined with innovative micro sites, already they have lost major footing and decreased their brand equity by missing one critical component: Truth. The key to successful user-generated content, will lie in brand alignment and authenticity. Telling the truth with regards to your brand, who created your WOMMA campaign and what your intentions are. No longer, will traditional advertising or corporate entities be allowed to hide behind empty promises as we enter a generation of savvy consumers ready to do the online research, google the product and find out what other consumers are saying. The truly successful online business that creates a model of flexibility and open source collaboration, while not able to control the process, may end up creating an online thinktank capable of producing results 10x better than a traditional corporate structure. It is entirely possible that in this virtual workforce future, we will all be creators, designers and inventors collaborating with one another to solve commercial and global problems in real-time on a scale never seen before.

Hill is president and owner of Incitrio, a boutique branding agency located in Sorrento Valley.