I’ve been asked a few times recently how social media users behave over
different channels, and I thought it was worth jotting down some notes
on what to expect if you’re running a campaign that includes
user-generated content.

Campaigns that ask users to upload videos have fewer entries than those using images or text

 They’re also more likely to go against posting rules so are more likely to get rejected for having inappropriate content, for example copyrighted music playing in the background, or the TV on, as well as the obvious things like nudity or sexual content.

People rarely read the full terms of posting. We’ve found that if you outline the campaign terms using the format you’re asking people to post in (i.e. make a video post of the terms, if you’re asking people to upload video), you get a better response and higher quality video posts.

It can help to be clear about what is and what isn’t acceptable too so that the community understands the rules and are more likely to flag inappropriate content on your behalf.

If you offer people the choice (video, text or images), video will get the lowest number of entries

People will enter by the easiest means. Interestingly, it used to be the case that you were more likely to get video uploads from a US audience than European, but this has changed as being in front of a camera becomes the norm for most people.

Image-based campaigns get a higher entry rate than video

 They are easy to find or take, and require no editing. But be warned: mobile phone cameras mean that there is a much higher proportion of obscene or abusive photos (things like bullying, firearms and drug use) or images of nudity uploaded. (People even do this from traceable mobile phones, and a number of these lead to arrests).

Don’t just look at the overall image, check for hidden images, titles or text within a picture.

Live uploads attract the worst behaviour

If content is being uploaded live onto a big screen at an event, or text to TV, for example, it’s more likely to contain inappropriate content like nudity or bad language.

If the brand is unpopular, these sort of incidents increase significantly, as people think it’s funny to get round the system and damage the brand’s reputation. The bigger the potential embarrassment to the brand, the more likely people are to abuse the system.

Check for permissions

 One of the most common issues is whether people have given permission for their images to be used. This can cause problems, particularly in countries with strict privacy laws.

The best prizes are often things money can’t buy

Understandably, the better the chance of winning a prize, the more entries you get. The best prizes are often the things money can’t buy, such as ‘behind the scenes’ trips, or a film role as an extra.

But the prize must be relevant to your brand. There’s no point in winning theatre tickets if you’re a shoe manufacturer (unless it’s to see the new musical, ‘Shoes’!). Being part of an experience can work well, such as including uploaded videos or images within a TV ad, or a film project online.

Just getting people to write your TV ad for you isn’t enough. They need something more, for example a chance to win the product advertised, to star in the advert, or recognition for their work.

Prizes mean better behaviour from users 

If there’s an end prize to be won, people tend to behave better, particularly as it often means filling in their real details – name, email address and so on – for notification of the prize to be sent.

Ten is the magic number

 As a rule of thumb:

  • 10% of people who look at the campaign will actively take part (post, like, upload etc).
  • 10% of those people who take part (10% of the 10%) will abuse the system.

Which channel? Consumer behaviour on Facebook vs YouTube vs Twitter

People behave differently on Facebook. They’re angrier, more opinionated, and spammier. Facebook pages get filled with spam very quickly if left unmoderated.

But the most abusive and bullying behaviour is shown on YouTube. Perhaps because there’s more anonymity – you don’t link back to your home profile – but people can be very unpleasant and personal in the video comments. Be prepared for that. You can’t rely on the community to report abuse, it’s just the way YouTube is.

Twitter is, of course, the fastest response channel. People expect an immediate response on Twitter – far faster than on YouTube or Facebook – so put the resource you need behind it. And if you’re feeding Twitter to an un-moderated big public screen, you’re asking for trouble…

No-one reads long Ts & Cs

No-one reads your terms and conditions of entry if they’re full of long legal language. If you want people to read the terms, keep them short and clear, and within the main frame of the community.

Adding humour often works well if appropriate for your brand.

Any others? It would be great to hear experiences from other people who’re including user-generated content in their campaigns.