User-Generated Content: Recap of 2006 and What to Expect in 2007

This article by Bambi Francisco in MarketWatch recaps 2006 and sets the stage for 2007 in terms of the impact of user-generated content:

“Given our obsession with users, and ourselves, I’ve highlighted what will be in demand or wanted in 2007 as the audience is increasingly relied upon as the voice, the experts, the supporting actors and/or virtual stars of tomorrow. These bottoms-up celebrities combined with traditional top-down stars will increasingly dominate the new media landscape of 2007.

Wanted: Your contribution

The concept of a wiki — a site that essentially enables egalitarian editing and collaboration of everyone from experts to novices — has been around for many years. The best-known example is Wikipedia, an encyclopedia that anyone can edit. Today, Wikipedia has 725 million page views per month, up more than 400% from last year, according to Nielsen//NetRatings. And, the beauty of Wikipedia is that it has about 6 employees. This year, the wiki model exploded to the point that now a book is being written in wiki style. Barry Libert is spearheading the first book project to be written in such a manner. (…)

Wanted: Your expertise

“Everyone is an expert [in something],” according to Richard Rosenblatt, who was the former chairman of MySpace and who sold the social network to News Corp last year for $580 million. Today, Rosenblatt is heading up Demand Media, which he calls a new media site. Demand Media is looking for professional, expert content on any topic since the core of its strategy is to start with trusted, professional content and then provide the tools to let people contribute related content or opinions. Some of Demand Media’s sites that use expert commentary include eHow, trails.com, gardenguides.com and golflink.com.

Yahoo Answers is probably the most popular of services that rely on volunteer experts to give people answers to their questions. (…) Yahoo Answers, which now has 60 million users and 160 million answers, marked its one-year anniversary in early December. Those answers helped drive Yahoo Answers traffic from practically zero in November 2005 to 14.5 million this November, according to Nielsen//NetRatings. In a survey conducted by Yahoo Answers and Harris Interactive, a third of online adults have used a Q&A site. (…)

Wanted: Your opinions and comments

About 30% of online news site Topix.net comes from user-generated or reader comments. That’s expected to jump to about 50% next year, Topix.net’s CEO Rich Skrenta tells me. Take a look across the blogosphere and you’ll note that comments make up a large part of the content.

Wanted: Your history

User-generated content can come in the form of a users’ history. As long as people can know your history, it can help form recommendations that drive sales of products, movie rentals, or news articles. In the past, roughly 5% of Amazon‘s book sales came from recommendations, as estimated by analysts. According to Netflix members select approximately 60 percent of their movies based on movie recommendations tailored to their individual tastes.

Wanted: Your reviews, ratings

It all started with ePinions back in the late ’90s. It was a site that thrived on users giving their opinions about sundry topics. Now, reviews and ratings are not only everywhere, they’re essential in influencing what we buy, where we eat, and what we read. They’ve become a great filtering process. They’re the reason sellers are trusted on eBay. They’re the reason local restaurants which are reviewed by users on Yelp.com get new clients. They’re the reason we read certain articles from across the Web, thanks to Digg.com, which relies on users to vote for articles they like by submitting it.

Wanted: Your profiles and journals

We live in an age where what we do, and who we are, is the news. That became clearer to me after Facebook decided to make any update on a users’ profile become a news feed. While the service wasn’t very popular when announced, I think the millennial generation will get used to it. Profiles of every day people make up the social network sites — the fastest-growing sites — on the Web. News Corp’s MySpace, with 115 million members creating the content with their own profiles, saw page views and unique visitors more than double in November. Microsoft’s Windows Live Spaces, which has 70 million members creating profiles, also saw its unique visitors and page views more than double last month.

Wanted: Your video creations

NBC is integrating user-submitted videos, such as favorite pets and wedding woes. They’ll be videos that are family-oriented, said Mark Moore, founder and CEO of One True Media, the technology company hosting the user-submitted videos. Mixing user-submitted video and traditional content will become a bigger deal in 2007.

What it means: this is a great summary of the major pillars of user-generated content. Still looking for a good New Year’s resolution? Make sure you open the conversation with your users. They want to tell you something!

Five Social Search Sites: Yoono, Gravee, Jookster, StumbleUpon, Otavo

Bob Heyman covers five social search sites in MediaPost’s Search Insider (sign-up required).

“The premise (of social search) is that the next big thing is to harness the power of communities to generate more relevant search recommendations.”

1) Yoono “describes itself as “instant people-rated Web,” meaning, that when you surf, Yoono displays a list of Web pages that others have classified as “favorites.” It works with a toolbar or plug-in. See more in TechCrunch.

2) Gravee “is a social search application that differs from others in that it is trying to change the economics of search by sharing advertising revenue with content owners, with a rev-share business model. The site shares up to 70% of all ad revenues with the natural listings that appear on the same page when an ad occurs, as well as with the referring Web site.” here is TechCrunch’s take on it.

3) Jookster “is a community-driven social search tool that works primarily through the browser toolbar. Jookster collects photos, video and bookmarks from sites like YouTube, Flickr and del.icio.us into one place that can be searched, saved and shared with friends. ” Mashable covered their relaunch a month ago.

4) StumbleUpon “employs user ratings to form collaborative opinions on Web site quality with the goal of helping you “stumble upon” great sites. When you “stumble,” you only see pages that friends and like-minded “Stumblers” have commented on. ” Many people love StumbleUpon (they have over 1M users), see the description here.

5) Otavo “describes itself as not just a search engine, but a community of users and staff members who participate in your quest to find answers quicker. As an Otavo user, you can ask any question or seek a quest of your choice.” TechCrunch covered them a while back.

What it means: Not sure what to think of “social search” yet. I think it might work for a very specialized topic or as a recommendation tool but I’m not sure you can be become a truly successful generalist search engine using a community (unless you count Yahoo Answers in this category). of these 5, I had heard of Otavo (because they’re based in Ontario, Canada) and StumbleUpon. The later is generating a lot of good buzz and is already a great source of traffic for many sites. I wonder if social search is more a feature than it is a destination… It could be a great add-on to any shopping or directory sites (which is a little bit what Aggregate Knowledge does).