User-generated-content (UGC) is altering how media is created, packaged, and shipped, but its potential for transmitting the gospel is largely untapped.
What is UGC? Essentially, it is any media produced by non-professionals.
In the video realm, you’ve probably seen it online in the form of cats, kids, celebrities, and lots of laughs. America’s Funniest Home Videos for the digital age.
Today, UGC is much more than goofy videos, due to the explosion of smartphones (58% of Americans have a smartphone), and embrace of social media (67% of Americans use social media).
Highly evolved self-publishing tools are improving the overall quality of UGC. Social media has opened the door to massive levels of distribution and consumption of this new media.
UGC has worked its way into all aspects of digital media: social engagement, journalism, media outreach, consumer insights, and everything in between. UGC allows for raw and unfiltered movement of content at lightening speed.
With the way the world works today, it is transforming how information is shared. One thing is certain, UGC is here to stay. Still, it’s a model finding its place in the general marketplace, and only a handful of Christian organizations have embraced it effectively.
The opportunity is to engage audiences in the creation of gospel-focused material that would be interesting to a broader audience.
What would that look like?
Here’s a few ideas to jumpstart your thinking about UGC.
Work UGC into your website or media platform as a value-add to your brand’s mission. Smartphones can do just about anything these days, including create decent video productions and podcasts. We’re all producers now.
Ask people to share a video or audio commentary from when they participated in an outreach activity, did some good work or deed with a church or nonprofit organization. That content could end up on a local web channel you create, dedicated to organizations working to improve the common good of the community.
A variation of that theme would be to have people record a digital journal during a mission trip and share it with your broader audience during a “Go Missions Emphasis” month.
Gather and capitalize on UGC created by local leaders and influencers to amplify and add credibility to your image as an organization that cares about the quality of life in your community.
As I’m writing this, the holidays are underway. Run a “Share Your Favorite Holiday Tradition” campaign, where your Twitter and Facebook followers are encouraged to send in videos or podcasts sharing their stories. To reward participation, enter them into a drawing for a Google Chromecast or Apple TV. The best stories would be broadcast over your on-demand online platform.
As we’ve said in other posts, get your online video and audio platform in place. That will make it pretty simple for your audience to send you their videos and podcasts. When done right, UGC will translate into a significant channel for your donors, sponsors, and advertisers who recognize it as a real opportunity.
You don’t need the big budget of a big brand to have a big impact.
If your audience will create decent content for you, and it’s good for engaging an ever-changing culture with the gospel, why not tap into the potential of UGC.