Category Archives: UGC Toolbox

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

The future of User Generated Content? CNN, iReport and Open Story.

CNN are pioneered a new approach to UGC and News with iReport and now they are launching a new user generated experience with Open Story. Generated by Users spoke to Lila King – Participation Director of CNN.com who takes us through the last five years of iReport and crucially what CNN have planned for the future with Open Story.

Open Story – CNN’s big UGC jump forward?

Japan Open Story

iReport has existed for almost five years and become more and more intergrated into CNN’s website and coverage of news. Now with Open Story (still in Beta) it takes CNN’s footage and all the perspectives of iReporters and it places it on a map and timeline giving you a full overarching picture of a news story. This rounded approach to user generated content existing together in one realtime platform is a bold one and one that the GBU team like a lot. Check out the SXSW and Japan Open Stories that Lila King Mentions.

So what is iReport?

Back in 2006 CNN first started its iReport initiative. CNN iReport is the network’s participatory news community. CNN iReporters from all over the world come to CNN.com to share video, photo, audio and text they deem newsworthy. Additionally they form communities of shared interests and engage in impassioned discussions.

CNN's iReport Homepage


It began after a number of stories where footage taken on camera phones was more compelling than traditional news organization footage. News events such as the Asian Tsunami, London 7/7 and Hurricane Katrina really shuck up the way we receive news and how news is gathered.

Here is Lila explaining in full

and a little more on the History of iReport…

Can we Trust User Generated Content?

The biggest challenge when it come to UGC is trust so we asked Lila if we can trust iReports and how CNN vet them. She says that iReports are vetted for CNN with the same rules as any other kinds of footage used on CNN staff. iReport has the same editorial philosophy as CNN.

So is UGC the future of News?

According to Lila the power of UGC is in combination with professional journalist as it offers incredible diversity and human viewpoints, but also UGC requires a lot of filtering and curating to make it successful.

iReport in Numbers

  • Typically CNN vets between 5 and 10 percent of the iReports that are received
  • CNN’s iReport has more than 753,000 registered “iReporters” (Source: iReport Server Log Data) with an average of 2.1 million unique users each month through February 2011. (Source: ComScore).
  • In its history the community has brought in 799,959 videos and photos
  • There are an average submission of 15,391 iReports each month on iReport.com.
  • CNN has received an iReport from every country in the world.       

Army Recruitment app adds new dimension to UGC

On Monday, the US army launched a new iPhone App to recruite soldiers.

The app is free and takes content from the website Army Strong Stories and allows people to access more than 600 soldier bloggers’ content as well as allowing users to share their own “Army Strong” stories, photos and videos.

A spokeperson from the U.S. Army Accessions Command called the app and a mobile website that also launched on Monday “a natural extension of the Army’s ongoing commitment to engage potential recruits via social media channels.”

When the blog first started in 2008, it was a blog platform only allowing soldiers to tell their stories. Now, anyone with an army story is invited to tell it. I wonder if this may cause any difficulty if people start accusing others of misbehaving and particularly when the army provokes a lot of emotion for many people.

Not only that, but isn’t it a security risk if soldiers start saying things they aren’t meant to…Or perhaps it is a very good thing and will replace psychological therapy by allowing people to talk to each other and share memories rather than an exploitation tool.

Army Accessions Lt. Gen. Benjamin Freakley told the Belvoir Eagle, “Soldiers should join Army Strong Stories for a number of reasons. … Online and in the media, the negative stories are always given a platform. Soldiers, every one of us, have some of the best stories to tell.”

I agree that it is a great place for soldiers to tell their stories and therefore give a rounded view of life in the army, but what if they say something bad? Are their blogs vetted?

And the idea of recruiting people through it makes it seem like their recruits are in decline. This says quite a lot about the wars that the US are currently fighting. I’d love to hear what anyone who uses it has to say.
By Linzi Kinghorn

User generated Q & A site Quora is a journalist’s best friend

From the founder himself, Adam D’Angelo says Quora is “a continually improving collection of questions and answers created, edited, and organized by everyone who uses it. The most important thing is to have each question page become the best possible resource for someone who wants to know about the question.”

You can search for a topic and relevant questions or post a question yourself. Users can reply to the question with specific expertise and once an answer is posted it can be voted up or down depending on it’s usefulness. The Quora community act as moderators where the most useful answers are rewarded and move to the top of the pile and less useful replies are penalised.

You can follow particular areas (examples of the topics I’m following include The New York Times and Derren Brown) and your home feed gets populated with questions and answers within these topics.

You can also sign-up with your Twitter and Facebook accounts, allowing for integration of liked pages, friends and people you follow to be directly imported into your Quora topics.

It’s a bit difficult to take in without signing up and checking it out yourself. Here’s a simple demo to get you started:

 

 

I typed in the question: ‘How can Quora benefit journalists?

I voted up the answer I found most useful:

 

 

So there you have it, Quora gives journalists some indispensable strings to their reporting bow:

  • real, useful answers to specific questions
  • sparking conversation and debate in specific topics with useful and informed opinion
  • feedback

By Lucy Hewitt

Trending Topics: What they mean and how to use them in journalism

If something is ‘trending’, it is being discussed and/or mentioned on Twitter as part of a keyword or hashtag phrase. From Twitter:

“Twitter’s Trending Topics algorithm identifies topics that are immediately popular, rather than topics that have been popular for a while or on a daily basis, to help people discover the “most breaking” news stories from across the world.

Most popular trending topics in 2010:

The results show that people were most concerned about serious news stories from around the world but also spent time discussing entertainment in the form of Justin Bieber and the newest Harry Potter film.

Any self-respecting journalist knows the importance of breaking news and so it’s a good idea to keep an eye on the Twittersphere cos we often hear about it on there before AP gets hold of it.

They’re useful if you want to narrow trends down to countries or even cities to see what people are talking about in specific geographic areas. Think of it as a virtual vox-pop.

It’s also useful to gauge a range of opinions on a given topic in s very short space of time and without leaving your desk. If you want to follow a story more closely as it develops, you can do by clicking the hashtag (#), which collates all the tweets with that word or phrase into one place.

Most newsrooms now have a screen setup with Twitterfall or something similar- an app that brings together hashtag and keyword searches in real time.

But we must be careful when collecting data from hashtags and trending topics on Twitter. Although a global phenomenon with over 106 million users, we cannot over-generalise trending topics to be a realistic cross-section of the opinions of all members in any given community. Most Twitter users are young professionals or college students living in first-world developed countries with readily available internet access.

Digital Surgeons have put together a great infographic which compares Twitter an Facebook users. The majority of Twitter users are slightly older than those who use Facebook most frequently (26-30 compared with 16-24 age bracket). Plus Twitter users tend to be more technology savvy as a higher precentage of users log in on mobile devices compared with Facebook users.

To sum up then, Trending Topics are useful as a starting point to find breaking news and research opinion and comment on particular news items as a springboard for further research, but should not be used as a valid cross-section of society.

By Lucy Hewitt