The news industry spent a lot of time behind the digital curve, beginning with online editions forbidden to scoop the print edition and prohibitions against linking to external content. But things are getting better, particularly when it comes to a cozy relationship with citizen journalism (or user-generated content).
The New York Daily News offers a great example, one from which the world of business can learn.
New York's Gay Pride parade was held on Sunday, just days after the state legislature legalized gay marriage. That lent special meaning to those participating in the parade, leading to more prominent coverage than the annual event normally gets. Included in the online coverage was this:
A couple of things are notable. First, the photos submitted by readers are displayed as part of the story, not as some separate user-generated content to which you have to navigate. Second, and even more interesting, is the ease with with readers can share their photos. Compared to, say, CNN's iReport-which requires registration, a visit to the iReport page and an upload process that some might find confusing-the Post's approach is drop-dead simple.
Why would businesses consider making it equally simple for fans and customers to share their content?
Consider that hotel and vacation properties listed on TripAdvisor with 20 or more photos get 150% more engagement with visitors to the site. Keep in mind, these are almost all user-contributed photos. Photos and videos from fans of your company's brands could generate greater interest and engagement with product-related content on your site. Consider how much more interesting web content would be for...
- The Ford Mustang, if owners could upload photos of their beloved vehicles (on vacation, after washing, at a rally...)
- Ikea, if customers could share photos of how their furniture looks in their homes
- Colgate, if customers could share before-and-after pictures of their smiles after using a teeth-whitening formula
As the Daily News story shows, there's also a ton of opportunity at brand-sponsored events. A company venue at South by Southwest (like the one Pepsi had), a regularly scheduled event (such as Apple's developer conference), a plant tour or a fashion show.
Where are the opportunities in your organization for having your customers and fans share their images and videos to boost interest in the product or brand?
(Hat tip to Jay Rosen, whose tweet (below) led me to the Daily News story.)