You want to work with your audience to source great stories. Here’s some tips on how to get started.
Think about what you want to achieve. This will vary depending on your organisation. Are you looking to create competitions, long form articles about different peoples’ experiences, collect news stories from locals, build photo or video galleries, create interactive maps filled with user content or something else? Some things to consider are: what do you want to do better; how does user generated content fit into your existing content or engagement strategies; what do your competitors or peers do that you would like to do too. Starting with a clear objective will help you decide how to proceed.
You may be working with an engaged, well-defined audience, for example, your email subscribers or membership. Or you may be starting out with the objective of building a community or audience. It can help to first think about a few areas that your target audience have in common or are passionate about. For example, if your audience were a group of British expats in Spain, they would probably all have something to say about Spanish driving rules — they just don’t understand roundabouts!
It can be helpful to think about the first ten people in your group. What are their potential motivations? What do they get excited about? This will help you choose an initial pilot subject to work with.
Create a call-out, a request for stories, that resonates with your audience. It’s important to be up-front about why you want people to send you their stories. Will their images star in a photo gallery on your site? If so, tell people where to look for them so they can proudly tell their friends. Will you be using their stories to create an in-depth article? Then be specific about when you will publish the article so they can look out for it. Your contributors care about the topic because they’ve shared their story with you, so you’ve already generated interest in the outcome.
Now you’ve got some content coming in, it’s important to follow a few basic rules to make sure that what you publish under your brand is genuine. For example, if you ask your users to send in photos of today’s weather in their city, check the date the image was taken, and the location too. And has the photo been edited? Contribly’s Moderation Tool includes all of these verification facilities, so you can publish with confidence.
Politeness goes a long way. Great user generated content comes from an engaged community who want to help you. You may not be there yet, so that personal touch really helps to build up your loyal community. When someone feels appreciated for their actions it helps to keep them involved. If you publish a paper, why not send them a copy?