This week’s Online Journalism session was focused on User Generated Content and how to start and maintain conversations with people. We had a guest speaker, Karl Schneider – Head of editorial development at RBI, a UK B2B publishing company – who discussed a number of interesting points about the changing nature of journalism and UGC in B2B publishing.
Several issues raised by Karl stuck in my head:
- The concept of ‘conversational’ journalism – basically he was saying that journalists need to move away from producing and distributing content to engaging in conversations with users and working off the back of their ideas/thoughts to create content that is useful and interesting to that ‘community’ around a subject. By listening and talking to users, you will be able to respond and provide information the information they are seeking.
- The benefits of UGC – aside from the obvious financial benefits of UGC (lots of content at little cost), Karl emphasised how important ‘community’ engagement around a website is in the production of UGC. He also pointed out that there was no set model of UGC that would work for users across the board – depending on the publication/topic, different groups respond differently when engaging with media products. He said, in order to understand users’ motivation to produce content, we should identify common threads e.g. why do users respond to that? In what way do they respond?
- Commercial business models – making ‘online’ content pay. Karl reiterated that this is still something that people in the industry are trying to work out and experiment with. He seemed confident that the future of online content will become a strong commercial platform and that a lot of the work will be in persuading advertisers that online is the way forward. He talked briefly about the idea of paid content and seemed to believe that it will be something that will catch on – especially in B2B publishing where users are willing to pay for important business and service information.
Karl’s top tips:
- ‘Listen to what people are saying and respond’
- ‘Look to where users are generating content elsewhere (e.g. Flickr, YouTube) and start a conversation there’
- ‘Think about what interactions work well face-to-face – is there a way to put that into the online environment?’
What I learnt from the session:
- To branch out – go to where the conversation is happening, join in and then they might follow you back to where you’re producing content
- The importance of joining in with UGC (e.g. forums, discussion boards) and not just throwing in the towel once your article is published – keep the conversation going, it might lead onto new stories
- Why do users respond and what do they respond best to? The types of UGC that work for certain groups/communities and making the most of engaging with your audience
(Worth a look: the BBC guidelines on UGC)
Anyone have any other thoughts on UGC and how audiences respond to articles on the web? What have you found users respond to the best – forums, picture galleries, polls, maps? Anyone see any negatives of UGC?