My prediction: there will come a time when everyone in the world will know someone who is competing in a user-generated video contest. It just happened to me for the first time.
Disney and CareerBuilder.com are running one they're calling the Disney Dream "Job" Contest. Users submit videos telling why they should have a job as a Disney character at one of the theme parks, and my friend Eliza is trying out for the job of Princess-in-Waiting (her video's below).
Until now, I was ready to dismiss user-gen as a fad that will peak and peter out in the next year or so. But it's different when you witness it first-hand. I'm amazed at the rapacity with which my friend Spencer (Eliza's boyfriend) has been going after friends and friends of friends to visit the site (how many times have you emailed me, Spencer?). It has really convinced me user-gen is giving marketers powers of attraction and engagement they've never had before.
The person who makes the video for these contests is doing a great thing for the brand. But the entourage of viral zealots she inspires is really the thing. Why else would I, an innocent bystander, have spent the morning watching videos of people dressed up as princesses and pirates?