Monday 26 September 2016

Friday Five: Ways to Obtain Rich User-Generated Content

Every person on the Internet has an opinion – and almost every one of them could be convinced to share it. Finding an opportunity to collect and amplify an audience’s idea is how the best, creative user-generated content is discovered.

The principle of co-creating content – collaborating on content that can be repurposed on traditional, digital, owned and hybrid media channels – can generate unique results if the “ask” is phrased the right way. Here are five ways to capture great content from an audience:

1. Make it cool to participate

The first way to get strong community participation is by making your action something the audience would feel excited to be associated with. The fastest growing media company of all time, Upworthy, talks about its strategy as finding a way to align a brand’s messages with either pride and joy or dismay and outrage, because those are the emotions that cause people to participate and share. They call tapping into emotions “The Big Data Secret That No One’s Talking About.”

2. Ask people what’s important

It’s fun to weigh in on questions about values. The community gets to take a stand on an issue and encourage their friends and family to rally around an opinion (i.e. was the movie good? Was the restaurant tasty?). A great example of asking an audience to share their opinions is UK advocacy group 38 Degrees inviting its community members to help set the agenda for the coming year. By phrasing the request in a collaborative way, (“What should we campaign on together in the coming months?”) the company was able to engage tens of thousands of its community members to gather ideas and gauge grassroots support for policies.

3. Amplify what your tribe is passionate about

The only thing better than sharing an opinion is getting a platform to amplify it. A platform that helped user-generated content reach a wider audience is Design for Obama, a curated art sales platform where up-and-coming artists can submit pieces to be featured and sold on the website. It’s an effective alignment of incentives: the Obama team gets a collection of amazing art pieces, artists get exposure and recognition in a new way and campaign evangelicals get a handcrafted piece that shows their support.

4. Make it human

When a brand meets its community on its level, it’s much easier to start a meaningful relationship. Think about the “action ask” as one individual making a personal request, not a corporate voice. During the 2012 presidential election, Ann Romney’s Pinterest was a great example of engaging an audience in conversation (and getting supporters to submit patriotic recipes) in a way that felt very accessible and personal.

5. Let people tell you their stories

As researcher Brene Brown says in her famous TED Talk “connectedness is why we’re here.” Seeking to share experiences is one reason why social media has been so successful – it provides a channel for people to better tell their stories. The Obama campaign team captured this user content in a beautiful way through its Share Your Stories portal. Users could read each other’s narratives, show support through “likes” and then share their own experiences. The photos and stories become great content the campaign team can repurpose in future communications.

Have you seen other brands, coalitions or campaigns use these principles successfully in the past?

When was the last time you shared your opinion with a brand online?

Stay tuned for next week’s Friday5 on collecting creative user-generated content through five irresistible calls-to-action!

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