User generated content seems to be one of the most recent buzz phrases to have gained popularity, it speaks of users creating content. Imagine having a website that becomes extremely popular, due to user generated content and all without you the owner, having to put in too much work to create this great content.
But what is a user generated content exactly? How does it work? How can you encourage user generated content? Let’s have a closer look, shall we?
User generated content is content created by base users and not by the owners of the website.
YouTube, Wikipedia and even LinkedIn (especially since they introduced Long Form Publishing) are high profile examples of user generated content in action. YouTube staff don’t spend time creating videos, instead, they make sure that content creation is easy for their audience and that the platform works seamlessly.
Other people make the content, YouTube, Wikipedia, LinkedIn, etc., all benefit from this user generated content.
Blog comments and discussion forums are the lower profile examples of user generated content, and in a similar fashion, the website owner doesn’t create the content but still benefits from it.
Sound awesome, right? How can you encourage your audience to create more content?
Creating the desire and motivation to actually do it, can be extremely hard. Making someone want to do something that they don’t naturally want to do, is extremely hard. But then again, giving people the opportunity to elaborate on things that they want to talk about is a sure way to accumulating lots of user generated content.
To demonstrate this, let’s look at YouTube once again. YouTube does not create the desire for its users to share their videos. What they have however created is a platform where users can produce their own videos. After they produce their videos they naturally want to share them with their friends, and if they come across a great video they want to share that also.
This means that you should think about what your users want to talk about but are not able to, at the moment. You solve this problem and create the platform and they will do the rest.
Content generation can also be inspired by the sense of belonging to a community and having one goal. In a discussion forum, people have that feeling of wanting to be of help to one another. This makes people want to post their stories, inspire other people or help them out when questions and advice is sought. But there are forums where a lack of community and animosity exists, and these end up driving audiences away.
Wikipedia does a great job of making people that contribute feel special. People feel great becoming a part of a much larger purpose. This makes them feel that their time is put to good use when they add information to Wikipedia.
Everything that is done without pressure is fun and people like to do things that are fun. So don’t put pressure on users to create content, it’s best if it comes naturally.
Take Gmail for example. When they wanted users to create videos for them, they put up a contest giving all the descriptions of what they want to see in the video. Since it doesn’t sound like work, lots of entries were submitted and they were able to choose one outstanding video that they can use at the end of the day.
Take some time to figure out how you can create user generated content, its more work for you at the start getting things right but lots less work for you once your audience get involved and it’s more fun for them too.