Four factors for generating user trust
Help a Reporter Out (HARO) founder Peter Shankman grew what was once a Facebook page into what he calls the largest source repository in the free world, with more than 150,000 global sources for journalists. He is also part of a collaborative effort to create a comprehensive media database on Twitter. At Mediabistro's UGCX conference—focused on user-generated content (UGC)—in New York this week, the frenetic Shankman told the crowd that mediocre content isn't going to cut it.
“We have to be better if we want to be seen,” he said. “If everyone's generating content, then everyone's important. But if everyone's producing the same content, you can't complain if no one notices it.”
So how do publishers tap into high-quality UGC that will get noticed? According to Shankman, it's all about trust. He gave four factors to foster trust within a media community with the aim of generating user engagement:
1) Transparency. “We've become a society of microjournalists,” Shankman said. “Transparency will be the first thing on which [UGC] will be judged.”
2) Relevance. Deliver what users expect. Don't spam them with X when they're looking for Y.
3) Brevity. Shankman advises learning to write in order to keep audience attention in 140 characters – the limit to Twitter posts – since users are consuming content in short bursts. He shared that HARO employees can take as many writing classes as they want with this goal in mind.
4) Remain "top of mind." “The best way to get people to pay attention to you is to pay attention to them,” Shankman said. “We talk to about 3 percent of our network on a regular basis.” By maintaining a personal context that is not self-serving with their entire network, publishers can remain top of mind for opportunities within that network.
“User-generated content is becoming about personal relationships,” Shankman said, adding that, through social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, publishers should consider it their jobs to get users to do their PR for them.