My agency just launched STL Tweets, a community website that identifies, collects, and organizes Tweets into a variety of passion verticals. We think this is the ultimate resource for St. Louisians who want to know what the rest of the community is talking about – right now. The site also allows people from the community who are deeply connected to a specific passion area to act as curators. Check it out.
Archive for the ‘User generated content’ Category
Nigel Hollis of Milward Brown had an interesting post on crowdsourcing last week, outlining how numerous brands and some agencies are using the concept. His post and the comments that followed cemented my opinion that crowdsourcing is really about the procurement of spec work from professionals, not the solicitation of ideas and content from typical consumers.
I’ve written about User Generated Content and Consumer Generated Content in the past. With few exceptions, most branded content worthy of any attention (by other consumers) is actually being produced by skilled amatuers and semi-pros, not crafty brand loyalists. We can add professionals and agencies to the list of producers.
Most brands continue to create an illusion that their crowdsourcing activities are consumer contests, but Mountain Dew’s recent campaign is fully transparent, listing agencies and independent film companies as their primary target audiences.
Crowdsourcing has become nothing more than a massive RFP drop based on the theory that creative is a numbers game. Get enough participants/entries and you’re likely to find suitable work at bargain basement prices.
Why would any agency, independent film company, or industry professional spend their time, energy and money on what amounts to the lowest pay spec work with poor odds? Because they see these activities as promotional and portfolio-building opportunities; a means to get noticed, build a reputation, and get hired for ‘paying gigs’. Apparently these participants feel no cognitive dissonance about crowdsourcing.
Will crowdsourcing become widespread or mainstream? Will agency fees for creative and production crater as a result? Nobody knows for sure, but what we do know is over time marketers run the risk of creating a patchwork quilt brand without the guiding hand of experienced marcom strategist.
Our agency (Infuz) does a lot of work within the context of social media. And being a curious lot, we recently created a site that allows users to ‘listen’ to conversations of voters via Twitter. An interesting experiment to say the least.
I attended iMediaConnection Breakthrough ’08 back in March and participated in some taped Q&As on a number of topics. This video was just posted and includes thoughts on the future of digital creative from a variety of perspectives. My segment begins @7:22.
Sorry, WordPress can’t accomodate Brightcove embeds.
Let’s wrap up with a few additional thoughts on how brands can leverage CGC to engage consumers
Provide toys and apps that are fun and enable creativity
Not all consumer-generated content needs to result in free-form creation. Online toys are a great way for brands to let user create “content” while entertaining themselves and their friends. Online apps like Line Rider and Make-a-flake are great examples of CGC tools – both succeed because they are simple, fast, and fun.
Apps like the Snakes on a Plane phone call from Samuel L. Jackson require little effort on the part of the consumers but pay off big time in entertainment value.
Not all CGC needs to be shared
The producer and consumer of content can sometimes be one in the same. Branded apps and games can allow users to create their very own, private creations.
Back in 2001 my team re-launched Conefactory.com for Edy’s/Dreyer’s Ice Cream. The new site allowed kids to run their very own virtual ice cream factory and create custom flavors for a fictional town. The kids had full control; from selecting ingredients, to naming flavors, to setting prices. A fancy algorithm on the backend determined flavor favorability from the community each day and rewarded our junior CEOs with ConeCash.
Tap skilled amateurs and semi-pros
As we discussed in an earlier post, skilled amateurs and semi-pros rarely create content just for their love of a brand. But that’s okay. Enlisting semi-pros has virtually no downside so long as the brand is transparent about who is actually creating the content. Also, costs are much lower and the creative can sometimes be better than an agency can produce because semi-pros don’t have to run through bureaucratic minefields. For the marketer, it’s a take it or leave it proposition.
Consumer Generated Products
Consumer generated content is a natural segue to consumer generated produces. Snakes on a Plane (the motion picture) enlisted the public to play co-producer/director/writer and Jones Soda allows it’s consumers to create/name flavors and even design their own labels. Note, the vote for your favorite flavor/color contests don’t really qualify as CGP.
Did I miss something? If I did please feel free to post your ideas on how brand marketers should be using CGC.
In this post I’ll begin listing my thoughts on how marketers can actually use UGC/CGC. Feel free to join in.
Even the best agency can’t polish a turd
Marketers often look past the most powerful form of consumer generated content: word of mouth. I have personally spent countless thousands of dollars based entirely on reviews posted on sites like Amazon and TripAdvisor. I have also spent well over six figures on automobiles (both new and used) based on Consumer Reports Used Car guides, where rankings are based primarily on consumer input.
Companies who fail to deliver innovation, quality and top-notch customer service are doomed in an age where CGC/WOM channels play a huge role in driving consideration and conversions.
Rule #1 of CGC is to make sure your product doesn’t suck.
Encourage consumer generated value
When embarking on a marketing program that leverages CGC, design it so the content generated will be of value to other consumers. I’ve seen hundreds of branded contests with the goal on catalyzing CGC, but too often the resulting content provides no value. The Pillsbury Bake-Off is a great example of a CGC program that provides value for both the creator and the brand’s target consumer.
Grab the long-tail – with caution
Blogs, podcasts, and social networks can provide unique opportunities for marketers to engage influencers within a relevant niche. The key word here is “relevant”. If your product isn’t highly relevant to both producers and their audience, don’t waste your time.
Also recognize that social networks, whether explicitly private or not, are personal spaces. You are an uninvited stranger and interruptive marketing doesn’t work here.
As always, provide value and relevance first, engage users later. I have a hunch sponsored widgets will lead the way in providing relevant connections between brands and consumers who use social networks.