From the Digital Innovators’ Tour: User generated content syndication at Stackla

It all began when Cassidy was working for the digital rights holder to the National Rugby leave and Miller was working for the League itself. All three founders had a keen appreciation for the challenges organisations face around content and to use content to engage fans.

Stackla team ()

After winning a services contract to create content for the rugby league, the trio teamed up to start an agency. “We were creating 40 long form articles a day and many videos and we quickly realised the more effort and time we put into content creation, the less traction it got. In fact, long form pieces got less engagement that short videos,” Cassidy told Tour participants.

“We wondered what would happen if we flipped the model around and instead of competing with the content on social networks, the answer was to embrace it instead,” he said. This led to the idea to create technology that enables publishers and brands to collect existing user-generated content and use it as a powerful source of information.

“We pitched the idea to an Australian broadcaster who had the rights to the Tour de France and were surprised when they said they would buy it,” he said. The new company then quickly pulled a prototype together and launched the company in time for the 2012 Tour de France in 2012 to great success for the broadcaster.

On the basis of this early validation, a new engineering team was assembled in Sydney who started to build the technology platform. The next year, the company set up an office in London and a year or so later, the founders moved to San Francisco to set up the US operations.

The problem of fragmented content

According to Cassidy, the team saw that content marketing was becoming increasingly important to  brands and after being approached by agencies to help them with brand content, Stackla expanded their focus beyond publishers to include brands.

“What we were seeing is that publishers and brands are creating content and then using social media as a distribution channel. At the same time, organic reach is diminishing which means that today, you really have to pay-to-play.” But the key question remained: Is this driving the right people to the right destination at the right ROI?

What Stackla has built is based on the understanding that the content created by users on social media is both powerful and trusted. It is well understood that earned media informs purchasing decisions and increases conversions. And so, the team realised there was an opportunity to flip the model around and use publisher and brand sites to distribute highly topic-relevant social content.

As the company started tracking results, they saw a positive impact on:

  • Engagement – Users watching the Tour de France used the content as a second screen experience
  • Sales /conversions – User generated content serves as a validation for purchases, subscription sign-ups etc.
  • Cost – Curating rather than creating content offers a better ROI and results

Today, Cassidy describes Stackla as a content marketing platform with a focus on user generated content.

How it works

The Stackla platform pulls content from 13 social networks through commercial relationships. Customers – publishers or brands – select the content sources they want to draw from and then set up business rules which auto-select content. This could include keywords, hashtags, competitor names (to exclude content), sentiment etc.

Once this filtered list of content is available in the platform, it is curated by manually or automatically associating tags to each piece. Editors can then use a visual dashboard to approve or reject content for display on their site.  This can be automated once the client has set up and refined tagging and business rules that identify sentiment among other variables. The editor of a political publication may, for example, be interested in publishing posts with negative sentiments alongside a piece about a presidential debate.  

Rights management is an important component of the platform, particularly for brands who want to use user generated content in their advertising. By connecting with the content creator, the brand can capture data and give the content owner the opportunity to opt-in to allowing their content to be used. According to Cassidy, many brands use this as an opportunity to reward content creators.

Once the content stream has been defined, it is fed into the publisher or brand’s website here it is dynamically updated.

The Stackla team recognises that it is important to work with the technologies publishers are already using. That is why the system is able to use customer intelligence from a CMS system, for example, to surface the content that is the most appropriate for each visitor.

Stackla for Media

Stackla example ()

Specific applications for publishers include:

  • Drive page views and time on site by integrating user generated photos and posts
  • Enhance authenticity and provide context for stories produced in house by incorporating consumer voices and reactions
  • Create high volumes of content at low cost
  • Create new revenue opportunities for sponsored hubs and branded event coverage

Current publishers using Stackla include Vogue, Comcast, The Sun, GQ.

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