As many of you know, I celebrated a milestone birthday this month. To celebrate, I concocted an action learning experience in user generated content, the Beth 5.0 Flickr Photo Birthday Remix Contest. I set up a flickr group, uploaded some instructions and some photos from the past half-century, and invited people to celebrate. The winner would receive $50 to their favorite cause or charity. I blogged the invitation, I emailed friends, family, and a few colleagues, I skyped, and sent an invitation to join the flickr group to all my flickr contacts.
54 people joined the group. Ultimately, 22 remix photos were posted, slightly less than half of the people who joined. The cards were amazing! I had a lot of trouble selecting a winner. So, my kids of the "We Gen" served as the judges.
Some people who I invited to participate confessed to being photoshop or flickr challenged, some opted to create birthday blog posts and, Loretta, created a birthday blog. Many of the contributors are flickr community members or dare I say addicts. Even people who are close to me (like some family members who I asked to send me a card) did not overcome some barriers to engagement.
-The extra step of creating a flickr account and perhaps a slight learning curve -- easier to get a hallmark card from the grocery store
-The creativity challenge -- one person told me that they looked at the clever cards and felt they couldn't compete, while someone else told me their visual muse was on vacation
-The perceived technical challenge - even though a lot of the photos can be easily generated with flickr toys, some felt this was beyond their technical skills. (It actually isn't which says to me to add something about how easy it is to be creative with flickr fd toys)
Using a flickr group for contest was a good strategy because as the admin, you can easily add and remove photos and dups. You can also tags. That is important if you want to stream them with a tool like splashr.
For some big picture ideas on user generated content, see this resource. In addition, the Carnival of Nonprofit Consultants has an excellent round up of advice on engaging audiences - which is necessary if you want to dip your toes into participatory media.
Harry's advice: Put a dog on the card!
Music in video: Wonder Drums by porchcat