Tips on making the most of UGC

March 24, 2009

Remember JPG, the crowdsourced photography magazine that was killed a few months ago and then brought back to life? Its editor-in-chief, Laura Brunow Miner, posted yesterday on Folio’s blog on her conviction that user-generated content isn’t dead like many have been saying – instead, we just need to be careful to use it in the right way and for the right purposes:

As an editor who’s spent most of her time with community created content, here’s what I think about user generated content as it applies to magazines: It has its place, which varies from publication to publication. Virtually all periodicals have some form of it, whether it’s letters to the editor, caption contests or photos-of-the-month. And virtually no magazines feature entirely crowdsourced content, though JPG came the closest with all content having been submitted through jpgmag.com and subsequently edited.

Miner goes on to offer useful tips on building your audience – and your content creators – through driving UGC, and makes the always-worth-repeating point that your print and web audiences are not the same: while they may overlap somewhat, you can never be sure of who has read what.

I’d like to add to Miner’s tips with one key point: just as you shouldn’t worry about “cannibalizing” your print product to build up your website (readers choose the platform first), when soliciting stories from readers, don’t worry about people seeing it on the website first and then it following in print months later (as will happen with long print lead times). Show readers that submissions online do make it into print and they’ll be that much more likely to contribute.

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