There is an element to the written works ecosystem that remains poorly developed, economically, for professional writers. With the dawn of the internet, we understand that the way in which writers ply their talent is forever changing; whether you’re a book author, a journalist, an editor, or otherwise, technology changes how and where we write and monetize our work. What the internet has done is enable everyone to write in ways that reach audiences beyond our notebooks or journals, and the aspect of the writing economy underdeveloped to which I’m referring lies therein: “User Generated Content.”
User-generated content (UGC) is any form of content through medium such as blogs, wikis, discussion forums, posts, chats, tweets, podcasts, digital images, video, audio files, advertisements and other forms of media that was created by users of an online system or service. Clearly, a lot of written work and frankly, a tremendous amount that is undervalued, unfunded, and lost to the web of the internet.
Affiliate Marketing But Not
I, Paul O’Brien (realizing we need author bios on our content), started my career at Yahoo! and in those relatively early days, the public was creating content largely through web site services such as Geocities and blogger. With the dawn of the Content Management System (CMS) and applications such as WordPress, more and more writers found ways to write for themselves and they uncovered a form of user-generated content that was indeed valued and making many decent livings. Affiliate Marketing, as it’s called, enabled writers to write for brands or eCommerce sites such that they could earn a living creating content on behalf of brands.
Around the same time, local listing sites (think Yelp), event calendar sites, and fan oriented sites such as MySpace, emerged, enabling everyone to write about what they love (or hate). That was the tipping point in user-generated content; when the world learned that they had voices that others wanted to hear. Since then, social media has emerged and now we’re all comfortable (often too comfortable) with the new world in which we all have a voice or an image. If you look back to that window in time though, that period between affiliate marketing and social media, you’ll note the time when brands were embracing and wrestling with customers being able to speak on their behalf; that was a time and technology in which tremendous opportunity remains.
That was a bizarre time until Bazaarvoice
One of Austin, Texas’ most innovative and influential technologies was that which a few savvy entrepreneurs explored in enabling online commerce to better manage and feature customer opinions. Brett Hurt, Sam Decker, Michael Svatek, and Brant Barton were among that founding and early team of folks recognizing that a greenfield in mediatech was the content being created by customers and the desire for businesses to be able to manage, respond to, and highlight those reviews.
Bazaarvoice, founded by Hurt and Barton in 2005, continues today working with eCommerce sites and communities, through technology, to foster an economy around user-generated written media.
As it goes with innovation and technology, invention begets new ideas and opportunities and thus it’s Michael Svatek, formerly Bazaarvoice’s Chief Product & Strategy Officer, whom we’re spotlighting today and because of whom we have an opportunity to get to know Michael and to explore what else is being done to innovate what’s working for writers.
Meet Michael Svatek
I had the pleasure some time ago. Thanks to Shane Walsh and Jim Brown, partners at Arena Growth Partners, who are passionate, much like we are, about the convergence of and future of technology with marketing. Michael is an entrepreneur among the most innovative in online content and following his departure from Bazaarvoice, he’s been helping guide a brilliant commercial real estate marketplace called RealMassive while developing Rivet Works.
Austin based, Michael has held executive and leadership roles at Baynote, a leading eCommerce personalization platform, and Interwoven, one of the world’s largest and most successful content management software platforms. Ideally situated to appreciate the ways in which innovative ideas develop throughout our economy, he studied at UC Berkeley following his undergrad at UT Austin.
Rivet is going beyond those review experiences of the early 21st century, beyond even where this decade has been heading in social media content, toward an end-to-end customer oriented experience with a brand.
Imagine (or don’t just imagine it, demo it), a user-generated content platform helps brands go beyond reviews and what can be aggregated from social networks. The platform allows online product retailers to generate stories from its customers, automatically associate the UGC with products, and data, and dynamically publish the compelling UGC in the purchase path. Bringing written and visual media to more relevant consumer experiences through technology. More authentic, relevant, and useful content that results in the traffic, conversion, and engagement brands small and large need to engage audiences.
What does that mean for writers and content creators in our media economy? New opportunity. As brands benefit from innovations such as Rivet, now more than ever curators, editors, and even traditional advertising campaigns are turning to the extensive breadth of content available to create compelling stories.
Get to know Michael in person, in Austin, at one of our MediaTech Live events; our February 2017 event in fact is downtown thanks to WPEngine. If you’re remote, catch us on social media as we ourselves turn to social media technology as we endeavor to enrich your lives.
Today as CEO and Founder of MediaTech Ventures, O'Brien works in Venture Capital Economic Development, serving the investment and venture capital economies directly, through thought leadership, consulting, and startup development.More, a regional Director of the Founder Institute incubator and mentor in DivInc, Galvanize, DivInc, and various startup Accelerators.
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