Facebook & MBN UGC: Integration of Photo & Video Upload


Middle East Broadcasting Networks’ (MBN) New Media Director, Ahmad AbouAmmo, has big ideas for how to make user generated content (UGC) a top priority for the Broadcasting Board of Governors’ fellow entities.


Alhurra’s Facebook Fan Page (the red arrow on the right side of the screenshot points out the UGC tab)



Changes in communication style brought about by the recent movements throughout the Middle East and North Africa have shown the importance of social media. One of MBN’s top goals is now to procure and curate UGC, so that the audience feels included in the production of content.  In addition to curating content from third party platforms, MBN is implementing different tactics in asking audience to participate and share directly with the entity. According to AbouAmmo, MBN is focusing on the audience experience on how they share content with MBN by offering easy upload forms on social media networks, such as Facebook, that are linked directly with MBN’s internal video sharing system (central database.)  This centralized database makes it simple for any number of journalists and producers to easily vet and incorporate UGC into programming.




What To Do To Plan Your Successful UGC Idea:

  1. Establish what your team wants to achieve.  Text is the easiest for users to contribute. Photos and videos are harder, so do not ask too many questions. Make the process simple.
  2. The conversation is already online. Use a Facebook app/tab and develop a simple way for users to upload content.  Plan to ask for minimal information to complete the upload.
  3. It is all about branding! An attractive, easy to use design is essential; make it look colorful, simple, and inviting.
  4. Have a very clear and short call to action on the tab/application.  Such as, “Share your videos or images from the heart of (the event).”
  5. Use of mobile devices is increasing. If possible, create a method that is equally as easy for mobile-users to upload their photos or videos.
  6. Create a big campaign for UGC. Design should be consistent throughout all other platforms. If you have a campaign that can be tied with a UGC idea, use its design  (i.e. Alhurra’s “I am news, I am Alhurra” UGC campaign).
  7. Think about how to make the workflow easy from when you ask for UGC, to the point the content makes it to other platforms. Connecting the UGC app with your video syndication, for example, will make this workflow easier.
  8. Test!  Provide a few days of testing time before launching to your audience.
  9. Soft Launch!  See what people do with the app/tab without promotion for a couple of weeks.
  10. Launch! Begin promotion of the app/tab via static websites, social media, and satellite TV.
  11. Analyze metrics.  Look for where incoming uploads are coming from (if the upload button is located on multiple websites or Facebook pages).  These metrics can be used as valuable data to help promotions staff.


Filter Unwanted Content Before Sending It to Producers

By creating separate folders for verified and unverified uploads, database administrators can verify and classify content.  This is because some UGC tends to be unrelated—such as self-portraits, scenery from past trips to an area (that may or may not be their own photo), or spam.  If content is not verifiable, it gets deleted from the server.  Journalists and producers can then easily search through verified content for what they’re looking for.  For example: “Facebook+UGC+video”.  Content can also be shared easily on social media from the database.  By creating easily sharable and verified content, users feel inclined to re-share and promote the MBN brand as a reliable source of information.

What This Project Means for USIM, Long-Term

From a social media innovation perspective, leverage these platforms to engage and connect with the audience is of the utmost importance.  By coupling incentives with clear calls to action, the more people will use the product and recommend it to others, so that a greater database of UGC can be curated.  The MBN model is a great example for how others within the BBG can mimic results to drive audience engagement.  Challenges that still need to be dealt with relate to: geo-location (due to users turning off geo-location mobile capabilities or using proxy servers) and how to let users access and share UGC content, as easily as journalists and producers do.

The process begins with identifying the specific problem, designing a solution, developing a product, and leveraging social media to get original and verifiable UGC.  AbouAmmo, his team, and the ODDI office are offering to assist any other BBG entity with this process if they are interested.


For More Info:


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(Thanks to Ahmad AbouAmmo for his contributions to this post.  To contact AbouAmmo: aabouammo@alhurra.com / @ahmadaa / @MBNDigital)

(The foregoing commentary does not constitute endorsement by the US Government, the Broadcasting Board of Governors, VOA, MBN, OCB, RFA, or RFE/RL of the information products or services discussed.)

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April Deibert

April Deibert

April Deibert is the Multimedia Blogger/Producer for the Office of Digital & Design Innovation. Follow her on Twitter: @BBGinnovate and @AprilDeibert.

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