Thursday, December 22, 2016

Any type of content created by unpaid contributors falls into the category of user-generated content (UGC). UGC can include tweets, blog posts, testimonials, snapchat stories or Instagram posts. According to Business Insider, shoppers interacting with UGC are 97% more likely to convert with a retailer than customers who do not. That’s a pretty good reason to incorporate UGC into your communications strategy.

UGC works in the same way as word-of-mouth referrals and for this reason, is a credible form of referral. Aaron Orendorff explains, “A brand is not necessarily its own best salesperson. Nobody within your business is as good at selling as your customers.”

With 86% of millennials saying that UGC content is a good indictor of the quality of a brand and 68% of 18-24-year-old social media users taking this type of content into account when making a purchase decision, UGC has grown beyond the buzzword phase. (It even has its own acronym!)

Back in 2009, Burberry’s successful Art of Trench campaign asked fans and customers to upload pictures of themselves in the brand’s iconic trench coat, the best of which were curated and shared on their Facebook page as well as on a campaign microsite.

Looking to up your brand’s UGC game?

Share user generated content

GoPro does UGC better than anyone. GoPro’s fans publish videos of their own experiences and tag the brand (#GoPro), but to provide added incentive GoPro often buys the rights to those videos, polishes them and then uses this content across their channels. The GoPro Instagram page frequently showcases user- generated images and videos, with the Photo of the Day feature ensuring a daily dose of UGC. 


GoPro even celebrates and rewards the best user-generated content, with the GoPro awards. 


Credit your content creators

Recognizing fans for their creative work is a great way to build relationships with customers, show that their work is appreciated and it also encourages others to share too. 


Work with influencers

The successful #MyCalvins campaign from Calvin Klein leveraged celebrity influencers to encourage UGC.  Justin Bieber, Kendall Jenner, The Blonde Salad’s Ciara Ferragni, and even music stars such as Fergie and Trey Songz all posted images of themselves in their Calvin Klein attire. Tapping into these respective fan bases is a smart move for marketers, particularly those looking to engage millennials.

The hashtag associated with the campaign encouraged fans and customers to share their own content on social media, with the very best submissions shared on a shoppable dedicated microsite.


Custom snapchat filters

In February of this year, Snapchat launched on-demand geofilters. If you are in a certain location, such as Times Square or the London Eye, there are certain geo-filters available for you to use.

During this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, CTV’s entertainment show, ETalk, took full advantage of the app’s function and snapped up a storm with their custom “CTV ETalk” filter. Festival-goers were also able to use this filter in downtown Toronto and were encouraged to send their own snaps using this filter.


Host a contest

Decorating the white cups, and the Holiday red cups, has been a hobby of Starbucks fans for years. Last December Starbucks invited customers to take part in a contest, sharing their best cup designs on Instagram. The contest received over 1,200 individual submissions with thirteen designs chosen as the overall winners. These Holiday cups are now being served in over 25,000 Starbucks stores in 75 countries.


The #CastMeMarc campaign asked users to post their own images for the chance to model for fashion brand, Marc Jacobs. With over 100,000 Instagram submissions alone, the wildly successful campaign ran in 2014 and again in 2015.

Like any other marketing tactic, UGC needs to be carefully monitored and managed to ensure the content being shared by users reflects the brand’s ethos and positively showcases products and services.

Amy-Louise Tracey, Communications Manager. CNW    

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

The Medium is the Message – 1964 (Mcluhan)

The Medium is the Massage – 1967 (printer error?)

The Medium is a Mess! – 2016 (Mcluhan again)


It’s hard really to know where to start, so I guess I’ll start at the beginning. Twenty years ago I was a failed photocopier salesperson who stumbled into the world of publishing strictly by chance. By any stretch of the imagination, I am not supposed to be here. The fact that I am even writing something about magazines for a website is pure fluke.

Full disclosure: this post is not for the scores of people who work tirelessly at large magazines. If you work at a business to business publication, it probably won’t really resonate with you either. That’s ok. The truth is that this post is really for the independent publishers and the small, yet fearless staff who work for them. What constitutes a truly indy publisher? These are the folks who do their own writing, sales, collection, marketing and bookkeeping along with trying to make sense of the world.

If you have more than one person full-time under your wing, congratulations! You have 100% more staff than I do.

It might surprise you to learn I started my first magazine with $50 worth of phone calls. I started my magazine because no other magazine would touch the subject I wanted to write about. They were all stuck in a monolithic/tunnel vision time warp. Every issue, it was pretty much the same stuff. I decided to create something different.

That was 18 years ago. Prior to this, I had a website that cost me $5 a month to run. It was that particular website that led to a book publishing contract that eventually led to a career in magazines. I am great believer in that the lack of money can be more than made up by passion and a dash of “let’s freaking do this!”

Independent publishers know it’s messy out there. Not only is Prince dead, a number of people are convinced print is dead. Advertisers are throwing out the analog baby with the digital bathwater. A number of my larger advertisers have pretty much decided they are content creators and don’t need to be involved that much in print.

Meanwhile, we keep hearing from digital marketing gurus that all independent magazines need to do is to engage readers by creating outstanding content on multi-platforms and financial rewards will be at hand. While I have absolutely no doubt that some of my indy publisher friends are in fact thriving in today’s environment, I am having a little more difficulty.

Perhaps the best way to explain why I am encountering issues is to imagine you are portraiture painter. You make your living with brushes, canvas and paint. You spend hours at your craft and the painstaking attention you put into the work pays off. But it’s not really the money that drives you. What drives you is seeing a blank canvass and creating magic with each brushstroke. You view your work more like a symphony conductor. You know where each colour needs to be placed on the canvass in order to make a truly exceptional product. Your paintings fetch a minimum of $1000 and clients are pleased with your work.

Although your paintings are truly exceptional, they can only be seen indoors. Clearly, elements like rain and snow would destroy your work. One day, a client comes along with a block of marble and a chisel. She says she will pay you for time and quickly urges you to get busy. You realize that art is buried in the rock, just waiting to break free.  As you cradle the tools in your hands and run your fingers over the hard rock, you begin to imagine how wonderful it will be to showcase your work outdoors. However, when you start to hammer away to bring life into the marble, you suddenly find yourself not really enjoying the experience. The tools are unfamiliar and while you are forming something of permanence, you can’t really quite find your flow. You are not in the zone the way when you use a brush, paint and canvass.

After hammering away for what seems hours, you are left with a giant pile of rubble and what appears to be a face. Both you and client realize this marble bust can withstand the mightiest storm. But you know in your heart it’s not really reflective of who you are as an artist. Your client senses your misgivings but smiles and says she appreciates your time. She offers you $10 for the bust and leaves. You go back to your canvasses, brushes and paint and wonder “how did I get here?”

Perhaps I am being a little more dramatic than I need to be, but I think a number of publishers will understand the analogy. I’d like to think that when I create a magazine, it’s not just a bunch of ink thrown onto paper. I spend hours hunting down photos and a remarkable amount of time ruminating on the kinds of stories I want to publish. Bringing all the elements of design, imagery, words and fitting them into a schedule can be daunting. Ensuring that you’ve got money in the bank to publish can be even more challenging. And yet, month after month, independent publishers create fresh pieces of work that audiences (aka readers) find captivating.

When I first started publishing, there was no real market. Advertising was few and far between. I used the power of print to cultivate new customers and fire up the committed enthusiasts. The magazine served as a catalyst for change. The magazine was niche, but it was powerful way to communicate new ideas.

On numerous occasions I have introduced someone to the world of skateboarding that I cover. They are incredulous at what they experience and are eager to learn more. It is this initial spark of interest that gives me the greatest satisfaction. It’s not about click bait – my magazine is just pure bait! And once I have a reader hooked, the possibilities are endless. They may purchase product. They can put on an event, they may even start up their own skate company. They may even wind up writing or shooting for the magazine.  Our magazine fosters engagement in many different ways. While a like is great, it just can’t be compared to something like a double page spread. I am convinced a healthy media landscape is made up of a variety of medium.

Likewise, in a healthy economy, you have small, medium and large companies. Each feed the other in some special way. The new ideas generally come from those companies willing to take chances and try something unique. You will find that small and medium companies are nimble enough to do this. As a niche magazine publisher, I want to be there to cultivate this type of ecosystem.

By Michael Brooke, Publisher of Concrete Wave Magazine, a publication for the Skakeboarding community and is an independent publisher



About Me
Industry Guest Blogger
This guest blog is for an exchange of stories from members of the publishing industry be it a magazine, newsapaper or digital only publisher to help foster change and innovation in the digital age. These stories will inspire the industry with ideas to help the industry prosper and keep it relevant with readers and advertisers. If you will like to contribute your story contact Martin Seto 416-907-6562 or
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