It is quite safe to say that on social platforms, images and videos are pretty much disposable. Publishing the same visual content twice or more times is not recommended, and even on the paid side of social channels, the visuals should be updated at least every 4-6 weeks.
With the minimum recommended number of weekly posts being three and with many companies managing three social media platforms, the numbers start looking stressful. With just the minimum recommendations, that would make 468 pictures or videos a year, just for social media alone.
Of course, one can arrange a photoshoot and take thousands of pictures to cover the need many times over, but those pictures very fast start to resemble each other, and for a social media user it doesn’t matter whether there is a tiny difference in the pictures. They want to see something they haven’t yet seen.
Photoshoots are often expensive to have but also heavy to organise as they typically require hiring models and a photographer, getting both the external and internal teams and the products to the shooting location, and then spending hours, possibly days by getting the actual photos taken.
And yet, this heavy process provides you with a handful of pictures with the same people in the same location.
UGC versus crowdsourcing
User-generated content (UGC) has grown more popular in the past years. As described by its name, UGC is content provided for a company or brand by the users, often by tagging the social media handles of the brand on their photos so the brand easily finds the content and can then share this free of charge content on their own page. The catch in UGC is that the user generating the content gets visibility – sometimes from the hundreds of thousands of followers the brand may have – while the brand gets good quality pictures from real users that don’t look like they are from the same photoshoot. Not to mention that many users actually like to get noticed and featured by the brands.
However, while UGC is a great way to get photos for the ever-increasing need of visual content, it is hard – almost impossible – for the brand to control the content they will receive. The users generate content they like, with the products they have, and show how they like to use them. For example, for a brand selling safety collars and harnesses for dogs, it is crucial that the products are worn properly. With UGC, the brand cannot control if any of the material they receive is usable.
Here enters crowdsourcing. Jeff Howe, the man behind the term crowdsourcing, describes the term with the following: “[crowdsourcing is] the new pool of cheap labour: everyday people using their spare cycles to create content, solve problems, even do corporate R&D”.
Collective knowledge is the most significant benefit of crowdsourcing. People look at a problem from their own perspective and bring their own skills to the table when they come together to solve it, with the result often being better than the sum of its parts. For example, when crowdsourcing Instagram content, one can leverage the creators’ knowledge of the platform characteristics, such as trending types of posts.
But how does it work in practice? Quite easily. In general, crowdsourcing visual content works similarly to stock photo services: content creators upload their photos to your private library and earn a little every time someone downloads their content, and if their content ends up being used, a larger payment will be made. To make sure you get what you need, you can own multiple libraries, all dedicated to a different product or for a different type of use. You can ask the social media users to go and get the product from their local store, order it for free on your online store, or send it to the selected people to their home address.
When working like this, instead of one photoshoot for a, let’s say, winter collection of your shoes, you save euros and your nerves. By sending the selected pair of shoes to three selected social media users with the brief, they all can provide you with high-quality pictures to use in the launch – all taken by a different photographer, which makes sure they are taken in different places and with a different take. After this, you may open the library to the public, so anyone can share their pictures when they have gotten their pair of shoes.