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How Media outlets can use User Generated Content for Feedback and Complaints. ‘Ranters to Ravers’ a Case Study

Lots of people like to comment and complain about the media coverage. Be it that they are unhappy about a TV presenter’s beard or that they are not happy about the panel of a Question Time programme.

The audience is key in media, they are the reason journalism is created. All TV, radio and online content is catered to specific audiences and demographics. This is so strong that some companies go to great lengths to create a fictional character that embodies the kind of person they are trying to make content for. They often even give the character a name. For example ITV Daybreak’s person might be called Sheila. She has 3 children, has a part-time job in an office and is a stay at home mum the rest of the week. At meetings it wouldn’t be totally bizzare to refer to Sheila by saying “now remember Sheila I don’t know if she’d like to see someone having their arm amputated at 9 in the morning.”

Well you get the picture!  Audiences are crucial in media, so it has always been open and receptive to comments about their shows. Traditionally this was done through the good old Royal Mail. Your letter would get through to a person in for example the BBC Points of View office who would, if you were lucky, broadcast your views on the PoV show. These days most people don’t send letters, but they do send lots of angry emails and tweets over the internet at just the click of a button!

The fact that people can tweet or use other forms of social media including Youtube to ‘rant’ about media coverage as it happens could be detrimental to a network’s ratings. If twitter is ‘trending’ for example #bbcqt (BBC Question Time), and all of the tweets are negative, surely it would be a good idea for the network to try and improve people’s perceptions of the show.

Some businesses like Dell have managed to harness the art of complaining into an online experience which transforms as they put it ‘Ranters to Ravers‘. I.e. people who hate the service to people who rave about it! I think that this form of user generated content is something that journalism and media outlets could learn a lot from.

They connect with their customers online, helping them with problems and listening to their views. Unlike many outlets which people contact and never receive any reply. They try to find solutions to their problems and change people’s perceptions of the company by improving their experience of the product.

Here Dell’s Stephen Jio talks about the project:

If people knew that their views were being dealt with in real time, they would perhaps be more willing to keep listening or watching a show. It would be equally useful for the media to listen to their audience and interact with it as they would know what they like and what they don’t. They could therefore cater to their audience’s every wish and who knows they might see their ratings shoot up…

What do you think?

Is it enough that BBC Question Time only has these ways of contacting them ? Or is it time for them to bring feedback and complaining into the social networking century?

This is a good article about how companies are profiting from customer interaction over social media.

http://www.fishburn-hedges.co.uk/news/articles/new-media-age-event-reputation-online

By Kirsty Malcolm @kirstymalcolm

What are the advantages of using UGC on hyperlocal websites and blogs?

User generated content is extremely important to hyperlocal blogs. The readers of this kind of blog are often those who generate content for it.

People are always interested in what’s happening in their area. Equally if something interesting happens in a local area be it a car crash or a street party, people seem to like to talk about it and connect with other people to see if they know what’s going on.

Blogs and websites can either have simple comments sections to allow people to generate content or they can actively seek user generated content and news using plugins like the box shown below.

Battersea people is a hyperlocal website that focuses on news and events in London’s Battersea area. They have an area on their homepage dedicated to asking its readers about what’s happening in the area:

As you can see someone called “ex-teacher” has just sent in something.

And what are the advantages of asking your readers for UGC?

  • people in the community can be original sources for stories
  • they often know more about what’s happening at a local level than journalists
  • they will be able to comment on the real life situation as it happens
  • they can send in pictures/videos which is especially good if your journalist can’t be there
  • people like to be members of communities so if they see their content being used they are very likely to continue sending in information which maked them a reliable source
  • it can be a great source of case studies

I talked to Anisa Kadri,, the Community Publisher of Battersea People, about how the site uses UGC. She told me that some of the advantages to UGC are finding original stories, getting feedback from readers, and adding value and information to stories that they might have missed.

When I asked about how they regulate their UGC she said that the main regulator is the readers themselves. Anyone can press “report as abuse” on a comment or post and it will be immediately sent to the site administrators who can decide if it should stay or go!

Many people are scared by UGC being on their websites, but in the end a lot can be gained from it. As long as there is some form of content regulation that means that abusive comments or content can be removed it should be ok.

One of the big problems is when people start to say things that could be against the law. People might say something defamatory or libelous.  We’re working on a post to explain all about this right now!

Click here to listen to the interview with Anisa. Or follow the link below:

http://boos.audioboo.fm/swf/fullsize_player.swf

Here are some other websites with interesting articles about UGC and Hyperlocal websites:

User Generated/Community Content

By Kirsty Malcolm @kirstymalcolm

Karl Schneider from Reed Business International on how Business to Business publications are using User Generated Content

We had a chat with Karl Schneider, editorial Development Director of Reed Business International, about how his publications are using UGC. He told us that User generated images are the most widely used form of UGC across his Business to Business publications.

They use UGC because RBI is comprised of niche publications. It is therefore often more beneficial to use user content as it is their users that have the most knowledge and access to niche subject matters.

He gives a great example..Farmers Weekly live-tracked the spread of crop disease with data collected and mapped by users. UGC was then effectively helping save farmers crops. By providing more accurate and speedy updates issued by farmers themselves, they were able to share and spread information much faster and more efficiently than traditional media.

Karl told us that this is why UGC is important to RBI:

  • 70% of their revenue comes from online
  • They aggregate user sourced information eg. tractor theft/crop disease which is very useful to their audience, and therefore brings them to the website
  • They create structures so it’s easy for people to add their own information. This can help add essential information to a story that a journalist might not know
  • Forums can help create content for their journalists
  • They can immediately involve the audience in the journalistic process
  • Their readers can let them know what information they need thus creating story ideas for their journalists

If you want to hear more you can watch the interview here:

It could therefore be said that publications can benefit hugely from their audience’s specialist knowledge.

By Kirsty Malcolm @kirstymalcolm