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Published On: April 8th, 2020|4.5 min read|

Did you think we were going to discuss social distancing?

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, and because a lot more people globally are working from home (we had to move about 2,000 people to work from home in just under nine days), there’s a massive surge in user-generated content. One factor is that common avenues of production, i.e. movies or television, are frozen right now — you can’t have a big set with 200+ people in the wake of the pandemic. So, traditional media titans like Disney face challenges in that regard. And while there’s millions of things out there to watch and listen to, there’s also not live sports — plus there’s a “recency effect” with content where people want to consume new things, not necessarily older things.  

This all leads to a boom in user-generated contentwhich has even been noted by Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri: 

“With so many people staying home, we’re all going to see a lot more media consumption. More of the new content, if staying at home lasts months, and I think it will, will come from people and not studios over time.” 

Mosseri also notes: 

In an era of isolation, the most popular content may center on social experiences no longer available to people. For instance, Mosseri notes increased interest in “moments,” whether that’s live music performances via Instagram, churches that “go live on Facebook,” or Twitter users who all decide to watch and discuss the same movie. 

We’re already seeing some of this happen, especially around church-going. (Easter is April 12th.)  

If your site has a healthy dose of UGC, and the pandemic is seeing a drastic increase in that UGC, what can you do?

 Step 1: Make sure your tech is right 

The Internet, broadly, was not built for this moment. It is slowing down. Companies like Netflix and YouTube are reducing video size files, and in the United States, regulators have given wireless carriers access to more spectrum to bolster the capacity of their networks.  

It’s a noted aspect of human psychology, especially in the On-Demand Economy,” that people want things quickly. That could be a box from a courier, or it could be user-generated content. If you can’t have it, see it, stream it, download it, or generally access it quickly, the moment likely passes — and if you’re the company or brand behind the UGC, you just lost a degree of loyalty. 

So, the absolute first step is making sure your tech is right and can handle the potential influx of users and creators in this sheltered societal moment. Reduce your latency. Ideally, it’s well under a minute. But if the tech doesn’t work right, or fast enough, the brand opportunities around UGC are not there anymore. Get the tech right first. 

Step 2: Now get the moderation right

Conectys has been around since 2004. In those sixteen years, the curious dance we consistently see with content moderation is between safety and speed. You need your communities to be safe — people feeling they can post and share, comment and like, be part of something without being attacked or subject to bad actors — but you also need them to be fast. If the community isn’t safe, people leave. If the community is very slow, users also leave. The speed is referenced a bit above; getting the tech right helps with the speed. The community — the “safe” part of the equation — comes from moderation.  

Now, the real issue with moderation these days is scale. At scale — such as the current rise in user-generated content — how do you keep a community both safe and speedy? That’s what global brands struggle with literally every hour right now. We once put together a guide on the necessities of a modern content moderation outsourcing partner, which can be a good start for you.  

The short answer, though, is that technology is not yet the full savior. There is too much cultural and linguistic nuance across the globe for AI programs to be the be-all and end-all of content moderation at scale. It needs to be a mix of human and AI/tech. If you scale with only one or the other, you’ll miss things — in the process sacrificing security and safety of your users. Your brand suffers as a result. In a time of cost-cutting and economic uncertainty, you cannot afford a hit to your brand. 

Step 3: Keep planning and look at the data

Some questions to consider: 

  • When is the (user generated) content supply  surging?
  • When is content demand (downloads, views, etc.) surging?
  • Can you adjust staffing relative to that data?
  • What are you hearing on customer support channels?
  • What are you hearing and seeing about your brand on social media?
  • What needs to be changed about your process as a result of those inputs?
  • What are your employees saying?
  • What are moderation partners telling you?
  • What changes could result from employee/outsourcing partner feedback?

There are thousands of data inputs as we try to navigate this newer, UGC-driven content landscape. Let data rule the kingdom right now — take the inputs and adjust the process, adjust staffing times, and even potentially adjust who you partner with to moderate UGC.  

If you have questions about scale or demand, let us know. We’ve done this for hundreds of brands over 16 years. 

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There’s a global surge in user-generated content. What’s next?

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