Q&A with Martin Ross, Executive Producer at The Edge (and UGC expert)
Martin has been at the Edge for over 20 years (!) and during that time he has produced any number of award-winning films and learning programmes. His forte? User-Generated Content.
Can you describe what User-Generated content is and how it works in pragmatic terms?
Everyone knows what user-gen is – where members of the audience help create the kind of content they want to watch. It inverts the usual top-down, we-know-best communication channel and instead provides a platform that allows a more authentic, and far more diverse range of voices to be heard.
We think about UGC in two ways: as a process – where we engage teams and individuals to be empowered and enable them to make films, via training, team-building events or by helping clients run video contests, and as a product – where we co-create films for clients by working with their people to co-create or crowdsource material.
What sort of messaging best suits UGC?
UGC is all about authenticity. Use it to let employee voices be heard and experiences be shared that are out of the reach of professional film crews.
What are the advantages of using UGC?
Given the current crisis and the impossibility of getting camera crews out, the advantages rather speak for themselves. But don’t think that user-gen in this context just means shonky talking heads that people shoot themselves with webcams pointing up their noses. Given some help and direction, people shoot amazing material and we can put together brilliant, personal, real films with it.
What has been your most rewarding UGC film that you have produced?
We’ve been working with UGC since 2008 – before iPhones could record video. I and a colleague went around the world training the teams at Nokia how to make films using their fancy new N95 cameraphones the year they were released, since which it’s only grown. Highlights include helping Allen & Overy people film their visits to charity projects in Tanzania, having 450 members of British Council staff say goodbye to a departing CEO, capturing days in the lives of BT apprentices and harvesting dozens of photos of lunches eaten by Openreach engineers for a film about diversity.
Allen & Overy – Tanzania
Can you name a UGC film that you wish you had worked on?
The big daddy of the genre is Life In A Day – a movie made from 80,000 clips shot one day in 2011 – my birthday, as it happens. But thinking about the logistics behind it gives me a stress migraine. So, I’m going to go for something smaller – a couple of original UGC music videos made in the ’00s that helped set the standard for what can be done with an enthusiastic fan base and a lot of creativity…
SOUR ‘日々の音色 (Hibi no neiro)’
Johnny Cash – Ain’t No Grave | The Johnny Cash Project
Life In A Day | National Geographic
Our 3 top tips for marketing your UGC
1. Create a custom hashtag to encourage audience participation
2. Ask a question or create a challenge to inspire further content creation
3. Use carousel ads to separate different content contributors
Read more on the different styles of UGC we can produce and examples of our work in this space.
At The Edge, we’ve been developing remote filming solutions for the past 30 years, and offer fast-turnaround options to enable key messages to still be delivered in this time of need. Right now the need to tighten the belt in times of uncertainty is understandable and we’re able to work with budgets of all sizes.
The Edge is a full-service agency, which means we are able to create, host and distribute your content. Get in touch to see how we can help support your communication plans firstname.lastname@example.org.