User Generated Content: How to Actually Receive Submissions

During the Q&A session of a recent talk about transmedia that I gave at Confab MN, someone in the audience asked about ways to get audiences to submit content. Her organization wanted to collect stories related to their mission and wanted to know some best practices.

Here’s the thing. User-generated content (UGC) can be harder than you think to collect, especially if the barrier to submission is high. What makes the barrier high? What you ask for, how you ask for it, and how you ask for it to be submitted.

So here are some considerations when crafting asks for UGC:

First, you want to make sure you know why you want go the UGC route. What are your goals? And what do you plan to do with the content? How will you display, present, and/or share the content?

Then you want to consider the actual ask. Try to make the ask as simple as possible. “Tell us your story,” is kinda overdone. And if someone asked me to tell them my story, I’d begin with, “It was a stormy night in Baltimore…” Consider being succinct by asking a more poignant question or offering a statement that prompts a specific response.

Think about format. Good formats these days are tweets, images, short videos (that can be done in more accessible mediums like Instagram or Vine), or fillable forms that prompt text.

You also want to consider how/if you’re going to do any editorializing of submissions. There are pros and cons of doing so and depends on the type of content you’re soliciting and what you plan to do with the content.

The goal at the end of the day is to make the submission process as seamless, easy, and interesting as possible, according to your goals of course.

–felicia pride (@feliciapride)

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