I recently received a review copy of Contagious' report on Social Networking and User Generated Content, and I'd like to share the reading with you.
SN and UCG are definitely among the most debated topics of the moment, both online and offline. As usual, when there's a lot of buzz about something, you can hear/read a lot of good insights and relevant opinions but also a lot of bullshit (pardon my French...). When I received the report I read it with great interest and curiosity, because I love consumer studies (I like the idea of feeling predator and prey at the same time) and because I feel there is (and I have) still so much to learn about the fascinating Internet world. Contagious is a great magazine, therefore my expectations on the report were high. And I must say that I haven't been disappointed.
What I liked most it's the editorial approach they've taken, building a report that mixes sites overviews, consumer studies, case studies as well as opinions and insights from people who work and manage the SN industry. In my opinion, very often when you read industry or trends reports you're flooded with stats and numbers, you look at them and then you ask yourself "and now what?". With Contagious' report this is not the case.
It would be reductive and unfair to define this report as guide to "Social Networking for dummies". However, as I said before, I liked it because it tells you (almost) everything you need to know to understand the most debated online trend of the moment. You find case studies and a lot of campaigns examples from several industries and from all around the world. You learn how crucial technology is in making an SN project successful (a good idea it's not enough!), and how an ugly style and a poor design might become (almost) irrelevant if the idea it's very good. Also, you understand the difference between advertising on SN site or running a richer marketing action within such environment (then you will make your choice) and you get scared enough from past mistakes from other marketers that hopefully you will avoid repeating them yourself.
I'll recommend buying it if you feel like a bull in a china shop when you hear someone talking about Web 2.0, but also if you need a good reference guide to what has been done or you need some inspiration to start your own action.
You can download the executive summary in .pdf here. The entire report is 67 pages long and you will receive automatic (and free) updates every time the research team has something interesting to add. If you're interested in buying it or simply want to learn more, get in touch with Stephane Scheyven.