User generated content is familiar and relevant to this generation of learners, and it’s an easy way to bring your audience together with a more personalized learning experience.
By inviting learners to experience blended learning in an environment that is similar to the digital content they consume outside of work, they’ll latch on to pieces produced by their peers all through the learning process.
Understanding how to get your learners to tap into their own knowledge capital and share their expertise within your organization is key to knowledge sharing.
In this article, we are going to explore User Generated Content: what it is, how we understand it, and the ways it can enhance your corporate learning strategy and e-learning tools purchasing decisions moving forward.
- What is User Generated Content
- Types of User Generated Content
- Importance of User Generated Content
- Content Curation for Learning and Development
- Final Thoughts
What is User Generated Content
User Generated Content (UGC) has quickly colonized the digital world, and it’s here to stay. UGC is any form of content (video, photograph, slide-deck, review, etc.) that is produced and delivered by users themselves.
User generated content has become so popular because it quickly drives engagement and activity from an audience that would otherwise be passive. It creates a knowledge sharing based learning environment where consumers are offered a seat at the table and ultimately become more immersed in the output of content leveraging the product and service at their disposal.
By inviting users to chip in their own content, they not only begin to participate, but they get to facilitate the conversation surrounding a project without Learning and Development (L&D) Admins needing to be in the driver’s seat. It’s a fantastic way to garner creativity and enthusiasm from your audience by welcoming their additional input.
Types of User Generated Content
Made possible in the last decade by the new found world of the internet, user generated content has begun to guide most of our online interactions.
Most social networking platforms, for example, have built their entire empires without actually producing much, if any, content of their own. They are instead relying on the consumers to run the show.
Different forms of UGC can include the following:
- Q&A Forums and Blogs: There are few millennials that have not taken or heard of a Buzzfeed quiz. These clever quizzes are oftentimes created by Buzzfeed’s audience, along with their blogs or “Community Posts”.They rely largely on their audience to curate clever content in reference to pop-culture and trends. Buzzfeed has taken a lot of work off of the plates of their internal staff while still guaranteeing web traffic by hosting content that is timely, relevant, and fresh.
- Tweets: When you scroll down your Twitter feed, have you noticed that it is never solely or even largely Twitter’s own content? While Twitter does have its own account, Twitter relies on the bite sized content written by its millions of users who then connect with other pieces of content from across the globe, simply by using hashtags.
- Photographs: Instagram has become a cornerstone social media platform in the last decade and, similarly to Twitter and Facebook, has its content mass produced by its users. With everyone and their mother trying to attain influencer status for their favorite brands, companies are able to sit back and let everyday folks do their advertising for them. Long gone are the days where you need an A-list celebrity to speak on your brand’s behalf. In the world of Instagram photographers and influencers, Instagram users feel more connected to influencers than celebrities. It appears that influencers, despite having successfully branded themselves, are still more relatable to Instagram’s users. .
- Videos: It goes without saying that Youtube’s success rides on UGC campaigns. It is the second most visited website behind Google, and far surpasses its equally famous competitor, Netflix. With users uploading 500 hours of video every minute, the number of channels earning $100,000 or more has grown by 40%. Bottom line: content does not need to be professionally produced and distributed in order to reach mass consumption.
- Customer Reviews: By now, you’ve probably purchased an item from Amazon. Before you pull out your credit card, it’s routine to scan some of the reviews for what you want. While scanning, you look for star ratings, photographs of the item that other buyers have posted, and comments about the quality that others found after purchase. All of this to give you peace of mind that your money is going towards something that will be reliable and in line with what you are looking for. This is an example of user generated content, and seemingly almost every business leverages UGC in some capacity.
- Virtual Communities: Eric Whittacer is an example of someone who has leveraged user generated content to launch virtual communities. He has established himself and made a living as one of the first virtual choir composers solely by leveraging UGC. By having individuals submit footage of themselves singing along to his compositions, he leads virtual choirs made up entirely of user generated content from around the globe. Whether it’s music, baking, fitness, etc. virtual communities are a unifying way to create and innovate collectively by sharing content amongst each other.
Importance of User Generated Content
We see user generated content peaking in every avenue of the market right now.
Successful marketing campaigns, for example, gain traction and velocity because of individual contributions so that businesses ultimately rely on the public to market their products for them. The Coca-Cola “Share a Coke” campaign exploded with buyers discovering their name on a Coke and then contributing to the campaign by using hashtags on social media channels. The Starbucks Red Cup campaign was similar in practice and outcome.
So why is user generated content so important to an organization?
People active on social media are more likely to be influenced to buy a product because 85% of consumers find visual user generated content more influential than branded photos or videos. Combine that with the 70% of consumers placing peer recommendations above professionally written copy, and you have your answer.
Just as consumers are drawn in when targeted with UGC, your enterprise e-learning content can attract your audience similarly. It’s time to move away from trying to sell your internal learning content to your audience and let them sell it to each other. Give them the drawing board and let them push the content for you. With your audience also invested in drawing up learning plans, you’ll notice a rejuvenated audience that wants the content to land as successfully as you do.
Top talent at your organization don’t want to hear from X random person who doesn’t even work for Docebo in a training video on how to sell; they want to learn directly from the people in your organization who are having the most success (but also have the least amount of time to sit down and train each individual). By having your peers teach each other through knowledge sharing, you will make strides towards more personalized learning. Similar to how we stream Youtube videos to learn how to change air filters, set up TV stands, or cook meals, we want to watch our peers perform so that we can replicate success.
All of this to say: the solicitation of audience input builds a sense of community and engagement that goes unmatched by pushing formal pieces of polished content.
Learning and Development teams that implement the use of user generated content observe the same success and engagement found on social media and other digital platforms. Because people are so accustomed to engaging with user generated content, it’s necessary for learning strategies to incorporate that which is most natural and relevant to their audiences’ style of consumption.
Content Curation for Learning and Development
80% of organizations are already leveraging user generated learning content in their L&D strategy. Here are some simple steps towards cultivating a culture of learning from the inside.
- Incentivize learner contributions: Establishing a culture of continuous learning certainly doesn’t happen overnight and, sometimes, it can be challenging to get your workforce to give learning materials a chance. Incentivizing learner contributions is one way people begin to navigate their audience towards learning. By hosting contests that encourage learners to produce user generated content with a sought-after prize up for grabs (lunch with the CEO, Amazon gift cards, work from home days, etc.), your audience will be more enthusiastic about participating and engaged with the outcome.
- Screen recording tools are your friend: People are more engaged watching video content than they are reading elongated PDF’s, and your talent can pursue mastery of a topic by re-watching content until it finally cements. Seeing their “top-performing” peers share what they know will make your audience want to start learning and will keep them engaged from start to finish.
- Host internal Q&A’s: Some of the most successful learning departments have launched learning programs simply by hosting Q&A forums. By keeping tabs on your Q&A forums, you can quickly harvest data to unpack who your subject matter experts (SMEs) are by exploring who answers the majority of questions, who contributes the highest quality responses, and who engages most often.
- Leverage Subject Matter Experts (SMEs): Once you have identified who in your organization is an established powerhouse of knowledge, you can start to strategize how to harness their expertise and work with them to distribute they’re knowledge to your audiences.
User generated content can empower your teams and mirror the way we interact with content outside of the office.
By having your workforce take ownership over teaching others internally, the learning experience becomes more personal and familiar. When we see colleagues who we know and respect come across our screens to teach us, we follow along more intimately than if we were to blindly read text or branded training content.
User generated content allows you to capture knowledge from the highest tiers and hidden pockets of your organization, ensuring that the knowledge stays in-house. If the day comes when your subject matter expert decides to take a new job, user generated content ensures that you’re able to bounce back and refer to knowledge that otherwise would have left along with your talent.
Ready to see how user generated content can change your learning game? Speak to an expert and learn how you could enable your learners with user generated content for self-directed learning!