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It seemed a while ago that brands and companies were obsessed getting users to create user generated content (UGC). They held countless promotions on YouTube and this even led to creation of sites like Brickfish which are devoted solely to UGC contests. Now, the Twitter-craze has ensured a steady stream of UGC in the form of tweets and in many cases, Flickr images and TwitPics.

The question is no longer how can brands accumulate more UGC, but how are brands leveraging their pre-existing UGC to their advantage?

Skittles recently experimented with this by redirecting their website to their YouTube channel, Flickr photostream, Twitter chatter and Facebook profile. But brands can take this one step further. Instead of just appealing to people who seek their brand online, they can (and should!) use their UGC to attract an offline audience using digital out of home.

Imagine this scenario: Julie’s out shopping in New York City and finds herself looking at a billboard displaying the following tweets (they’re all real):

“admiring the Flash Macy’s Video on Style Jeans”
“Macy’s have Levi’s 511 skinny jeans on sale today until 1 pm. Buying two pairs. Yay!”
“At macys. the dresses are so pretty!”

Every so often, an image pops up with someone wearing a Macy’s dress at prom, or walking around with Macy’s shopping bags. At the bottom of the screen is a map displaying directions to the nearest Macy’s store. It’s just a few blocks away, so Julie to pay Macy’s a visit.

Or this scenario: John’s on his lunch break and passes by a screen displaying online chatter about the upcoming Red Sox game (if he were in New York, he’d see Yankees chatter). At the bottom of the screen, he learns that he can watch the game on ESPN2/NESN at 7pm. Or that it’s playing at a bar down the street and they have an extended happy hour. Or that he can send the screen a text message with his prediction of the game score and win a $50 certificate to City Sports if he’s right.

The possibilities are endless, as is the number of brands that could leverage their UGC outdoors (Retailers, restaurants, TV series, books, movies, consumer goods, causes etcetera etcetera). The beauty is that the screens will display new content in real time, all the time. And there’s no limit to how creative brands can get with promotions and level of interactivity. The technology already exists in LocaModa’s Wiffiti.

The end result?

A way to reach out to people that is constantly engaging, interesting, and refreshing. Who knows, this may be the future of user generated content.

Unfamiliar with Wiffiti?
Wiffiti pulls feeds from Flick and Twitter that contain specific keywords and displays them on flash-based screen. This screen or Wiffiti can then be projected on jumbotrons, walls, plasma TVs and can be embedded in websites and blogs. Wiffiti also allows users to send text messages directly to the screen. Brands can choose between auto moderation and manual moderation to avoid displaying negative or un-PG content – so they won’t have to worry about people trash-talking their brands like they did when Skittles launched their new website. .

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