It’s Time to Move From Manual to Automated UGC Management

By Matthew Ralph - June 5, 2019
7 mins read time
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Here at Stackla, we often hear brands express a similar quandary: “We’ve manually sourced and published user-generated content (UGC) for years. How can we be sure we’ll really benefit from moving our manual UGC management efforts to an automated platform?”

It’s an incredibly important question, and the answer is actually pretty simple: the benefits are broad and bespoke, but an automated solution will always resolve inefficiencies, lessen sunken resource costs and improve scalability across your omnichannel marketing strategy. The downsides? Well, in the long run, there really aren’t any. Successfully implementing a marketing automation software, or choosing any marketing technology in general, is a multi-step process, but it’s worth the budget, training and consideration when it can make your team significantly happier and more productive. In fact, on average, companies that rely on some sort of marketing automation have 53 percent higher conversion rates and 3.1 percent higher annual revenue growth.

Automated content curation and management resolves inefficiencies

It’s clear that user-generated content is the future of marketing. In a recent study, 79 percent of people said UGC highly impacts their purchasing decisions. But, let’s face it, working manually to source user-generated content actually ends up taking a whole lot of time — probably more time than you or your team members intend to commit to your UGC strategy.

While the manual process of sifting through multiple social networks, identifying the images you like, asking for rights and then heading back in a few days to find them again (with or without rights granted) might be working for your brand, it’s not the most efficient method for UGC management.

When teams are manually sourcing user-generated content, it’s often easy for them to get stuck in a process rut. Maybe you’re thinking about that saying — “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” — right? Well, an inefficient process is broken. There’s a huge amount of valuable time that’s wasted in each of these manual steps, including the process of requesting and obtaining rights, and then the manual, disorganized storage of these assets without a centralized repository. Just because it’s a process your team might be used to doesn’t mean it’s a process that’s efficient; because of that, it might be costing your team more than you think.

Often, we talk to teams who are working overtime to create content, like branded imagery, which takes multiple iterations and go-aheads from various rounds of stakeholders. What should be a simple process — creating an image for your brand’s afternoon social post — becomes a project, with teams spending hours just making sure that image is relatable, accessible, likeable and shareable (all the features that user-generated content just naturally is).

Or, instead of creating branded content, teams are manually scheduling professional photoshoots to create “authentic” content for their marketing channels. The problem? Not only are the photoshoots expensive, but the coordination required is time-consuming, and it demands further rounds of editing and polishing — losing that sense of authenticity sought after in the first place. Once again, this manual process becomes an inefficiency.

Manual processes also leave teams susceptible to the possibility of legal pushback. When processes aren’t automatically checked or rights managed based off of digital Terms & Conditions agreements, there’s room for error — and a lot of it. Automated processes reduce the risk of legal consequences when it comes to content management, especially in the age of GDPR.

Moving from manual to automated processes reduces the risk of sunken resource costs

Whether your marketing budget is small or large, it’s always important to ensure you’re getting the most out of every dollar you spend. Putting budget toward any solution that costs more time or stress without proper return is just throwing valuable resources away (something your boss will take notice of at your next budget meeting).

Instead, choose to place marketing spend into automated content curation, management, sourcing and publishing — all with one tool. With Stackla, brands of all sizes reduce the risk of sunken resource costs; Stackla’s visual recognition software automatically sources, scans and tags images based on characteristics, location and content for fast discovery and distribution. Then, Stackla’s AI engine, Co-Pilot, learns your brand’s visual guidelines and automatically sorts through all of these sourced images to recommend the best images to tag, rights manage and publish. And our batch rights management workflows help to streamline and scale the process of obtaining legal rights from content creators.

With an automated content tool, brands transform not only their marketing strategies, but their mindsets as well. Instead of manually attempting to work quickly to create more content (which almost always leads to second-rate visuals and/or compliance issues), teams can be confident they’re getting the best authentic user-generated content in the least amount of time — leaving room to finally allocate resources toward that project you’ve been keeping on the backburner.

Automation sets the stage for seamless scalability as your brand evolves

With reduced inefficiencies and less sunken resource costs, your team’s level of performance has room to thrive. Automated content curation allows for simple, seamless scalability as your brand innovates, ensuring that your user-generated content strategy always fits right in with the rest of your content efforts.

What happens when teams successfully leverage an automated user-generated content tool that scales with them? First, they’re always legally using the best UGC by putting robust rights management workflows to use. Sure, a manual rights management process might seem easy — just find the UGC you like and comment or direct message the creator to ask if you can use it, right? But, in reality, to ensure your brand is copyright compliant, a more robust rights management strategy is essential.

With an automated UGC tool, brands can automatically request rights either by request or by registration directly from platform. With Stackla, scalable rights management looks like batch processing, allowing brands to send dozens of requests with a single click. Smart processing queues ensure requests are posted steadily but won’t trigger anti-spam restrictions by the platforms. Imagine how much more your team would get done if, with the click of a button, hundreds (or thousands! hundreds of thousands!) of user-generated photos were automatically rights requested. My guess is, well, a whole lot more.

When content creators start approving your brands’ requests, Stackla automatically triggers a notification to you via Slack to let you know. Then, take action on that content directly in Slack — either publish it, or save it to the Stackla Asset Manager to publish later.

Stackla’s Asset Manager is completely GDPR compliant, so when your UGC gets rights approved, your team can store those images in a central repository where all other remote team members can access them. With these capabilities, both rights management and asset management are scalable across different levels of your organization — benefits that are bespoke and broad.

Cirque du Soleil is a great example of the power of moving a UGC strategy from manual to automated. By leveraging the authentic content created by fans all over the world, the Cirque team boosted social reach and improved efficiencies while maintaining a fresh, authentic source of visuals across their channels.

As Pierre-Paul Larivière, Director of Digital Ecosystem at Cirque du Soleil, says, “Our fans generate nearly 50,000 pieces of authentic content every 3 months and we utilize around 13,600 of those visuals across our digital channels. It would take two additional full-time employees to manually go through that volume of content, but with Stackla, our existing team can curate and moderate all that content in just a few hours per week—leaving more time for us to focus on other activities that can move the needle for our business.”

With all of this authentic content coming through from real fans, Cirque’s digital content channels are constantly publishing high-quality content without having to spend a fortune. “We don’t have to shoot and pay for all this content and it’s reusable once we’ve rights managed it through Stackla,” Larivière says. “Stackla’s AI-powered content curation and predictive recommendations have allowed our busy team to quickly and efficiently acquire high-quality fan visuals and publish them to all our most relevant digital channels with the click of a button.”

Or, take Think Iowa City, who leverages automated user-generated content management to improve  website performance, increase social engagement, develop a robust repository of images and increase staff time efficiency.

“I brag about it all the time. It has made my job a million times easier. Before, I would have to take days out of my week to go do photoshoots. We used to have to send photographers out to our surrounding towns. There’d be one day a week I’d have to go out and take pictures in bulk,” says Addison Mittelstaedt, Digital Media Coordinator at Think Iowa City. “With Stackla, now I have time to do other things with those photos coming in. I rely more on Stackla for those images.”

And, Air France leverages user-generated content across their advertising strategy after UGC outperformed branded content during A/B testing. “Our team is saving hours each week using Stackla. We can quickly look for visuals based on hashtags, location or brand mentions, then add in destination tags. Stackla makes it easy for us to build a full and authentic visual content library of all our destinations,” says Chloé Marchand, Director of Social Media at Air France. “We have strict internal requirements for content, so obtaining legal rights from content creators to publish their images is a critical requirement for us. It’s very seamless and easy using Stackla’s robust rights management workflows to manage permissions for the thousands of UGC photos we use.”

With automated user-generated content management processes in place, teams of all sizes save time and money while boosting their authentic content — building long-lasting communities of customers.

Is your brand thinking about moving from manual UGC rights management to an automated process? Schedule a demo below and let’s talk!

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