Let me tell you a story: There was a time when we came up with most of our content on social media on our own. Need pictures? You had to go out and take them yourself. It was a scary time indeed.
Then came along Instagram. We could easily find pictures using hashtag and location searches. I started jokingly referring to it as “Mamma’s Little Helper,” since it made my life so much easier. And all of my presentations included how to find images and then ask for them properly. Glorious times.
But as we do with all social media trends, I think a lot of us have begun to take it too far. The thought is now, “Why would I go out and take a photo when it’s right here?” So instead of keeping a full and happy set of photos, it’s become all user-generated. And that, my friends, is where things get really scary.
What If Instagram Shut Down Tomorrow?
This may seem preposterous. It’s HUGE. It’s owned by Facebook. There is no way that Instagram will shut down.
But you don’t own Instagram and so a lot of things are out of your control with the app. It could go away. Then where would you be? Would all of your processes still survive?
User-generated content should always be in a place where it supports your owned content. It should not be the only thing you’re doing. You should get out there with a camera and be creating just as much as you are curating. Then, if the unthinkable should happen, it would be no big deal to you. You are already in the practice of getting those great photos anyways.
Give As Much As You Take
And there’s another perk of taking those photos: Relationships.
Yes, remember when social media was all about relationships? You’d treat your fans and followers as co-creators, and they would be much more likely to help you when needed. Well, it’s still that way, and it can be so cool.
By becoming more than just resharing channels, you will instantly gain more respect among the photographers that call Instagram home. And I’m not talking about gorgeous stock photography. I’m talking honestly going out there and trying to create yourself. Some of the best engaged photography on Instagram is not the professional photos. It’s the photos that are about three steps below professional. So as long as you are trying, your photos are probably just fine for the community.
Then there is just something that sinks into your soul as you are creating alongside your followers. You gain more respect for what they are doing, and you just treat them better. The relationships tend to blossom because of that. And magical things can happen.
Telling Your Story
The point of all social media is to create business, but a secondary point is to tell the story of who your organization is. Finely curated user-generated content can do that. But it will always miss some pieces, the biggest piece of course being you.
I’m not telling you to take a bunch of selfies and call it marketing. What I am saying is to sit down and figure out your organization’s story. Then think of how you can paint that picture, while adding the stories of others to tell the bigger tale.
It’s so tempting to let others tell your story and call it a day. But when a marketer comes through and tells their stories with a level of love that shines through, people notice. They interact because they see that love. They see that humanity, and they want to be a part of it. Don’t rob yourself and your organization of the amazing things that can happen when you’re a bit vulnerable.
How are you striking that balance between owned and user-generated content?