There is often a debate regarding the importance of “Content” v/s “Community” in the online space. The importance of either depends on the progress of the brand in the online space as well as the kind of members or fans it has. When a brand sets up online presence for the first time content becomes highly important in order to create awareness and attract members. When a community starts out, majority of the content is Institutional Content (IC) i.e. content that has been created by the brand representatives themselves. Over time, brands aim to reduce Institutional content and motivate fans to provide User generated content. The primary reason why user generated content is important is that it proves that the brand matters to the audience. However new online communities require Institutional content in order to attract users and eventually attract more user generated content.
The rates at which communities are able to develop user generated content largely depend on the communities themselves as well as the members. For e.g. A group of college students are more likely to generate content than a group of lawyers or accountants.
Brands should ensure that their groups have ample opportunities for individuals to upload or share content. However, users are not going to start sharing content without any visible returns or benefits from the same. Brands can provide benefits in the form of recognition or prizes in order to encourage users to keep coming back and engaging within the community. It is important to remember that brands cannot solely rely on user generated content in order to keep their community alive. Institutional content is necessary in order to tell fans and members that the brand communicates actively and is involved within the community.
To make a shift from Institutional Content to User Generated Content brands need to ensure that there is healthy engagement amongst the community members. The end result is that people will come to a page because of the content but will stay there for the community.