Academic journal article Journal of Electronic Commerce Research

User Perception of the Quality, Value, and Utility of User-Generated Content

Academic journal article Journal of Electronic Commerce Research

User Perception of the Quality, Value, and Utility of User-Generated Content

Article excerpt


User Generated Content (UGC) is a rapidly emerging growth engine of many Internet businesses and an important component of the new knowledge society. However, little research has been done on the mechanisms inherent to UGC. This research explores the relationships among the quality, value, and benefits of UGC. The main objective is to identify and evaluate the quality factors that affect UGC value, which ultimately influences the utility of UGC. We identify the three quality dimensions of UGC: content, design, and technology. We classify UGC value into three categories: functional value, emotional value, and social value. We attempt to characterize the mechanism underlying UGC value by evaluating the relationships between the quality and value of UGC and investigating what types of UGC value affect UGC utility. Our results show that all three factors of UGC quality are strongly associated with increases in the functional, emotional, and social values of UGC. Our findings also demonstrate that the functional and emotional values of UGC are critically important factors for UGC utility. Based on these findings, we discuss theoretical implications for future research and practical implications for UGC services.

Keywords: User Generated Content (UGC), UGC Quality, UGC Value, UGC Utility

1. Introduction

Web 2.0, which is characterized by openness, participation, and sharing, is bringing about dramatic changes in the way users interact with the Internet. Web 2.0 allows users to create and share their own content, rather than simply consuming the content generated by digital media companies [Lai & Turban 2008; Hendler et al. 2008; Papathanassis & Knolle 2011]. The openness and participation provided by Web 2.0 has led to a rapid increase in the production of user generated content (UGC) and a corresponding increase in users' participation in and sharing of relevant applications [Nov 2007; Karahasanovic et al. 2009; Valcke & Lenaerts 2010]. UGC has begun to gain popularity by allowing users to share text, audio, video, and images posted on content sharing sites (e.g. Youtube, Slashdot), blogs (e.g., Technorati), social networking sites (e.g. MySpace, Facebook), and other media [Bernoff& Li 2008; Turban 2008; Bakshy et al. 2009]. The use of video is also rapidly increasing, along with the widespread inclusion of video capability in digital cameras and mobile phones [Nov 2007; Bernoff& Li 2008; Ryu et al. 2009; Kim et al. 2010].

UGC is evolving gradually into a recreation-centered multimedia, entertainment and leisure-related environment [Wunsch-Vincent & Vickery 2007; Lai & Turban2008 Ryu et al. 2009; Papathanassis & knolle 2011]. UGC is characterized by sharing free information, user participation, and openness [Handler et al. 2008; Lai & Turban 2008). UGC is changing the charater of open society by enabling the production, and sales of content, rebirthing users as "prosumers" who perform active roles in content production, and creating an era of one-person-media [hendler et al. 2008; Valcke & Lenaerts 2010; Dye 2011].

Corporations and organizations are currently employing UGC for two-way interactions with consumers, society, and the public at large [Pisani 2006; Nov 2007; Bernoff& Li 2008; Papathanassis & Knolle 2011]. A broad variety of UGC types are already being generated and exchanged by users, and posted on various UGC sites. As a result, the use of UGC produced by individuals, such as blogs, video images, pictures, and social bookmarks, is rapidly increasing [Lai & Turban 2008; Ryu et al. 2009; Ma et al. 2009; Shim & Lee 2009; Papathanassis & Knolle 2011]. UGC is playing an increasingly important role for the business model of social networking sites, and a large share of UGC is expected to be of high quality [Valcke & Lenaerts 2010]. Recently, Li and Lin [2009] argued that the value of digital content was associated principally with its content quality. …

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