I was one of two moderators for this week of class when we discussed User-Generated Content, otherwise known as UGC. Here are some lessons I gathered from the community discussions on how to best approach UGC.
You can’t force it
There seemed to be a strong consensus in the class that the best UGC is natural, not forced. If you want to take advantage of good press and try to turn it into UGC, it might not be the best option. It would take a lot of work to encourage that UGC, and you may not get the quality you want. But when people organically want to contribute, that’s what you’re getting somewhere.
Accept that you have less control… But set clear expectations.
Content is always the #1 priority, but human writing and storytelling through author personality is what will make your content interesting and different. Don’t stifle personality with perfectionism. You don’t want bad writing on your blog, period. Content, quality, style, and tone should be fully understood by your and your UGC creators.
Kelly’s prompt on the G+ community promoted a great discussion about this topic, and there were awesome answers by my classmates. Set yourself up for UGC success by vetting your content creators properly: set clear quality standards and get to know your UGC creator’s skills before you promise them a feature.
Less for you, more for your community
If you have users writing well for you, not only do you have more time to devote to other tasks to growing your community, but you are giving you and your audience more to talk about. More writers can mean more perspectives, and if those writers are good, it can increase the reach, quality, and engagement of your community. This was something that was addressed frequently in our G+ Hangout with Sean Keely and Ally Greer.
#1 lesson on UGC from Moderating: Be Patient.
Moderating was much more difficult that I thought. I’m not a patient person, and moderation is a huge test of patience.
If I could go back, I would have written much less in the discussions. It was hard to be patient and let others write, especially when sometimes the wait was several hours before anyone commented.
By the end of the week, I began to understand the rhythm of the community. Most people start commenting and posting in the evenings. This makes sense: people are done with classes and are home from being on campus all day.
This is a struggle that all communities have to go through: you can’t start a community and the next day ask for UGC. It’s a natural step in the evolution of a community, and you must be patient in growing it. If you’re patient and focus on engaging your audience, you might reach the point of UGC.