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How broadcasters can unlock the value of UGC

Charlie Horrell, CEO, Imagen
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With almost everybody armed with a smartphone, nowadays nothing goes undocumented. Everyone is a content creator capturing significant and sometimes shocking moments as they happen and posting them online for all to see. Whether it be unfolding events or freak weather phenomena, we’re no longer solely reliant on news outlets for breaking stories. However, more often than not, this user-generated content (UGC) isn’t being used to its full potential and instead is predominately circulated on social media sites such as Twitter. Therefore, with ever-expanding amounts of UGC being created, broadcasters could find significant benefits to its use but must find ways to unlock its true value.


The role of UGC in broadcasting

The advent of the smartphone has given rise to ‘citizen journalism’, whereby members of the public capture images and video from unfolding events. The use of this content in news bulletins and websites can provide real value to media outlets, helping to create a narrative and providing footage from the scene of incidents where camera crews weren’t present. For broadcasters, UGC offers speed of access, enabling them to report in real-time, as it can be uploaded in a matter of minutes from the scene of the event, ready to be used in news bulletins, for instance.

Further to this, the rise of ‘fake news’ is causing public concern about misinformation, as 70% of people in the UK are revealed to be concerned about what news is real and fake on the Internet. With UGC found to be 50% more trusted than other media, this content can therefore act as social proof that an event took place, for instance, adding reliability to a story. What’s more, it is suggested that newsrooms that successfully engage UGC will build community trust, which in turn encourages audience members to share even more. 

Broadcasters could also integrate UGC into their marketing materials to make more impactful campaigns which resonate with customers, as research finds that 85% of consumers find UGC to be more influential than branded content. UGC also offers broadcasters added creativity, enabling them to show viewers the world from a myriad of perspectives and develop more compelling stories. Genuine human emotion can be difficult to recreate, therefore, the use of UGC can help broadcasters convey this with more authenticity.


Extracting value from UGC

Since the advent of social sharing sites, it has never been more important in TV production to have quick access to content to ensure producers are at the forefront of topical events. Often working to tight deadlines creates the need to find and insert the right clip into their programme or advert as fast as possible. While UGC presents broadcasters with the opportunity to enhance their storytelling, the challenge lies in accessing and utilising this content.

One of the most effective ways broadcasters and media outlets can tap into the growing volumes of UGC is by creating their own portals through which the public can upload content. This can be achieved through the use of cloud-based platforms, which can act as an extension of the brand and be scaled in line with increasing awareness among consumers of how they can put their videos or images to best use. This approach allows broadcasters to quickly access the UGC they require to respond to breaking news stories and events. This enables them to move away from the current method in which journalists trawl social media sites for video clips and seek permission to use the content from the original poster, which can be both time-consuming and ineffective.

Organisations could also look to incentivise the sharing of UGC to ensure that individuals feel inspired to upload their content via the portal. One method is to enable individuals to monetise the assets they upload so they are rewarded for sharing their footage, which is an approach being used successfully by companies such as ViralVideoUK. In this scenario, the public could upload their footage to the portal and receive a flat fee from the broadcaster if their assets are utilised.

By 2022, Internet video traffic is expected to make up 82% of all global consumer Internet traffic – an increase from 69% in 2017 – indicating that the quantity of video content being created and uploaded to the Internet is only going to increase. As consumers continue to capture important moments that could otherwise go undocumented, it is becoming increasingly vital for broadcasters to be able to access, utilise and share this content. Therefore, it’s time these organisations took matters into their own hands by creating an online portal and incentivising the sharing of valuable UGC. In an increasingly competitive landscape, this could prove to be a key differentiator for broadcasters, enabling them to create more authentic and compelling stories and making their community feel part of that process.

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