Daily Archives: March 31, 2011

How UGC can be used to empower marginalised communities online; a reaction to Savvy Chavvy and Big Fat Gypsy Weddings

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about an online community for gypsies and travellers called Savvy Chavvy. It got me thinking about the influence, and to a certain extent the power, of mainstream media. In some ways entertainment media these days can seem to be even more powerful than the news, which in the past, represented many people’s main source of news and information.

Today there is a whole new generation who consume news and media in an entirely different way… Infotainment. That is to say information combined with entertainment. This is a fun and interesting medium to gain news and information from, and with some 9 million viewers it’s definitely popular. The problem however, is when the entertainment factor begins to overtake the information factor.

I believe we have seen this in “documentaries” like Channel 4 ‘s Big Fat Gypsy Weddings. Dare I call them ‘mock-umentaries’? They are interesting and new, but surely they cannot be compared with a traditional journalistic documentary.

What I have found from research on many social networking sites is that these programmes generate a great amount of conversation and online. If you #BFGW there are references not only to the programmes themselves but to an entirely new social reference. This reference from what I have gathered seems to be on the whole quite negative.

Big Fat Gypsy Wedding Screen Shot Twitter Negative Comments

Many people are beginning to associate negative, laughable, and stereotyped behaviour with the gypsy way of life portrayed on the programme. The problem is that this programme is not representative of all traveller and gypsy communities.  By creating a programme so dedicated to entertainment over information, C4 have created an extremely entertaining show, but a show that may have pigeon-holed an entire marginalised community.

These people are not happy about this as can be seen from the outbreak at an RTS meeting yesterday..

The people in marginalised communities, now when I say marginalised I don’t just mean gypsies and travellers. We’re talking about prisoners, ex-prisoners, disabled people etc… are starting to use platforms to have their side of the story heard using user generated content.

I talked to Matt Grimes about the importance of online communities like Savvy Chavvy and the content they are producing…

Matt told me that these UGC platforms can:

  • empower marginalised communities
  • bring marginalised communities closer together regardless of physical distance
  • counter the media’s pre-established ‘agenda’
  • allow these communities to address issues covered in mainstream media
  • create a space for people to learn more about these communities from the real people who live in them

For More you can visit the links in the post or there’s more in these ones:

Matt Grimes

On Road Media- Savvy Chavvy

BBC College of Journalism Post on BFGW

BFGW STV Criticism

Guardian Article on BFGW

More on Savvy Chavvy

By Kirsty Malcolm @kirstymalcolm

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The Facebook Factor- Facebook in Films

At the beginning of 2011, the social media site Facebook is used by more than 600 million people across the world.

Not only is it one of the most frequently used UGC sites and can be a veritable fountain of information for journalists, for example being invited to events or groups of interest, but it also proves to be a good subject for media in its own right.

Tonight MTV will be showing the “Diary Of Facebook”. Its a documentary that will expose the inner workings of lives of Facebook and the employees that work there. The documentary includes interviews with Mark Zuckerberg the head of Facebook, talking about the culture of the company and how it has progressed. It has become so popular that the behind the scenes workings of the company are of interest to the general public.

Let us not forget the phenomenal success of ‘The Social Network. The film was based on the creation of Facebook by its founder Mark Zuckerberg. ‘The Social Network’ received critical acclaim and was one of the biggest films of the year.
It is has won four Golden Globes, an Academy Award, four Critics Choice Awards as well as many others!

Watch the Trailer below!

As this form of UGC became so popular and such a massive financial and commercial success, it shows that UGC should not be limited to giving ideas and contributing information to a story.
It surely is a matter of time before we see a ‘Twitter- The Movie’.

By Vanessa Holland

5 (and a half) Simple Steps for YOUR site to get MORE User Generated Content

We all know content is king, but there are only so many posts that you can churn out before your creativity/willing evaporates. So how can you get your community to become more engaged with your site and contribute?

1. Comments – It may sound obvious but so many blogs and websites still don’t allow comments, so activate the comment box and get communicating. Respond to all comments with more information and debate, you want to stimulate debate on your website.

2. Ask the Right Questions to get Debate – Now your community can comment you need to provoke a bit of debate. Users won’t readily comment they will only do so if they feel they have something to say, if your post leaves them feeling cold, they’ll stay quiet. So finish your posts with a question it could be as simple as what do you think? Or have you got anything to add?

3. Polls – are a great and simple way to get your community involved and reacting to your posts. There are loads of different tools that you can use most of which can easily embedded into your blog/website. Our favourites are;
i) PollDaddy
ii) micropoll.com
iii) twiigs.com
All three can be embedded onto your blog or website and PollDaddy even comes with analytics so you can see who is responding. Here are a couple we made earlier on PollDaddy about what you think of UGC.

4. Use the Right Tools – aside from polls there are literally hundreds of tools out there that help you to get more user generated content. We love Nabble, a tool that allows you to seamlessly embed a forum into your website ( unfortunately only as long as it is WordPress.org).

Nabble Forum on UGC


What do you think of UGC and the best ways to attract it?

The forum took two minutes to create and is embedded with a quick copy and paste of HTML code. Users stay on your site when using the forum and can share posts with social media plugins, helping your UGC reach a wider audience with no extra work for you! Call us lazy but we like that even if it is only available on WordPress.org!

5. Get the Community to do it for YOU!FV Community News is a WordPress.org plugin that allows you to create a form for users to submit fully formed articles with pictures, tags and they can be posted automatically on your site or after moderation straight off a fully intergrated WordPress dashboard.

Intergrated dashboard with FV Community News plugin

The plugin is completely spam proof using the same Aksimet system as WordPress. All you have to do is click “approve” and hey presto some brand spanking new UGC content. It is also good for receiving anonymous tips! You can see here what it looks like on Divito Design.

Lastly, but most definitely not least… optimize your publishing date and time. There is no excuse for not doing this as you can pre-set publishing time and dates for your posts! Time the publication so the maximum number of your readers will be online and your content isn’t lost in the big digital sea! A fellow member of team GbU did a similar post on this a few weeks ago!

So let us know what you think? Or if you have any top UGC generating tips, Comment, Tweet or go on our UGC forum!

by JAMES GLYNN