User-Generated Content in the Magazine World
April 11, 2012 by Joy Curtis
"I was working next to a guy in the salon and he was working on a little old lady. The client kept saying, ‘I don’t like the way you’re combing out my hair, you’re making me look ugly!’ He was getting very frustrated and finally slammed his comb on the counter and said, ‘My dear, God made you ugly. I’m trying to help you!’"
– Behindthechair.com’s "That What She Said Preview"
Content can be found, created and acquired just about anywhere. Relationships, however, are built. And that is a point of difference publishers can capitalize on.
Fortunately, right now there is even a growing trend to help publishers – inherent content creators – become relationship builders. Consider how many tweets were sent about Instagram finally coming to the Android market, or the continuing success of Flipboard, or the dominance of Facebook in the … well… everywhere.
User-generated content. In the past, print limited publisher’s ability to quickly turn readers’ comments into publishable material. Now, digital narrows the gap between the brand and the reader to the point of being merged, packaged and sold. Behindthechair.com, for example, created a separate edition, "That’s What She Said," as a sellable piece based solely on stories submitted by readers via their social media channels. (Click here to peruse their preview.) Another publication will focus entirely on answering questions readers post on facebook or their website. If you don’t want to create a separate digital edition, try going back to archived issues and adding pop-ups of your readers’ responses to specific articles. Then promote the publication again with reader responses as a featured attraction. Or perhaps, the next time you need images, skip iStock or your corporate shots: get readers to submit their Instagram pictures of your products and feature a slideshow of readers’ pictures.
More than the ability to create more materials to take to the market, by using user-generated content you are inviting readers to be a part of your brand. You demonstrate that you hear their comments and even promote them. You could also expect that readers will turn around and promote your digital edition on social media: after all, the primary function of social media is to talk about things that involve you, such as landing a featured spot on a digital edition.
Be bold! Build relationships with your readers, and capitalize on the results.