If You Can't Beat Them, Join Them

With 2.8 million retweets and counting, Ellen DeGeneres’ “selfie” -- although she wasn’t the one that took the picture, so what’s that all about? -- has taught us a few things.

1) “Selfies” know no age boundaries, even if taken by accident.

2) User-generated content can spread like wildfire, especially if those users are superstars. Perhaps that's because user-generated content is easy to connect with.

Thismoment, a cloud-based software provider, is looking to take advantage of the selfie-obsessed, content-sharing masses. And because that content is mostly shared on social media channels and mobile devices, that’s where Thismoment is looking.



The company is expected to announce the launch of a new content marketing platform, dubbed Content Cloud, on Tuesday, and plans to demo it at SXSW. The platform allows brand managers to mix user-generated content with existing content assets, such as approved online ad campaigns, company videos, etc. It’s a self-serve platform.

I see the platform as something that gives marketers the ability to throw up the white flag when brand-generated content fails to “looks and feel” like user-generated content. I'm talking about the "native advertising" of social content, with this KFC commercial being exhibit A.

The premise of the platform makes sense: If what you are going for is something that seems like user-generated content, why not use actual user-generated content? Big brands already working on campaigns like this with Thismoment include Kia Motors, Frito Lay and Levi’s.

Based on Thismoment’s quirky example video, narrated by the company's Founder and Chief Product Officer, Ankarino Lara, users must first give permission to allow brands to use their images or videos.

I can see some potential issues. For one, what if users don’t give permission for one reason or another? In my opinion (based on experiences, not scientific research), young teens seems to be the most eager when it comes to sharing content. Unfortunately for marketers, that’s a privacy hellhole.

Second, what if consumers don’t share enough, or what if what they share doesn’t fit with what the brand manager is looking to accomplish? Tough luck -- such is life when you rely on crowdsourcing.

However, if users are acquiescent, it would provide brands with a steady stream of usable content. Thismoment likens it to a DJ creating a playlist.

Thismoment is not the first to create a platform that can parse social content to create something brands can use -- we see it often with “user-generated mosaics,” especially during national events like the Olympics.

Real user-generated content, mixed with branded content, in a social feed-like format is more interesting than a mosaic, however. The crowdsourcing creates a double-edged sword, with fresh content on one side and a little less brand control on the other.

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