User‐generated media (UGM) like YouTube, MySpace, and Wikipedia have become tremendously popular over the last few years. The purpose of this paper is to present an analytical framework for explaining the appeal of UGM.
This paper is mainly theoretical due to a relative lack of empirical evidence. After an introduction on the emergence of UGM, this paper investigates in detail how and why people use UGM, and what factors make UGM particularly appealing, through a uses and gratifications perspective. Finally, the key elements of this study are summarized and the future research directions about UGM are discussed.
This paper argues that individuals take with UGM in different ways for different purposes: they consume contents for fulfilling their information, entertainment, and mood management needs; they participate through interacting with the content as well as with other users for enhancing social connections and virtual communities; and they produce their own contents for self‐expression and self‐actualization. These three usages are separate analytically but interdependent in reality. This paper proposes a model to describe such interdependence. Furthermore, it argues that two usability attributes of UGM, “easy to use” and “let users control,” enable people to perform the aforementioned activities efficiently so that people can derive greater gratification from their UGM use.
UGM are an extremely important topic in new media scholarship, and this study represents the first step toward understanding the appeal of UGM in an integrated way.
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