07.11.2015

Some of the largest and most successful communities around were built on the back of user-generated content. But engaging, managing, and maintaining quality when you’ve let go of the reins presents a whole new set of challenges.

Giving up control can empower your community and help it grow. But it’s about more than delegation; it also means getting out of the way and letting members make their own contributions. Betabrand found success with letting users generate images and videos that surpassed expensive, professionally-created content. Just remember, not everyone can contribute to the same degree in your community. It’s important to embrace and recognize all levels of commitment, from content creation to engaging in the forums.

Here’s how some of the world’s leading communities handle the challenges of rapid growth in their own user-generated communities.

Case Studies

Distributed Control: How reddit is Taking the Management Out of Community ManagementCMXhub - User-Generated-Communities1

If you go back to the days when Erik Martin was CM, his key lesson still holds true: to build a community, you have to delegate and give your power away. Stop getting in people’s way.

How Community-Created Content Generates 100M Page Views: A BuzzFeed Community Case StudyCMXhub - User-Generated-Communities2

Brett Vergara, community strategist at Buzzfeed, talks about how they empower and manage their users to create the content that became the secret to their meteoric rise.

Here is Duolingo’s Playbook for Creating Community-Generated Content for Over 50 Million LearnersCMXhub - User-Generated-Communities3

Not everyone can contribute to the same degree in your community. Don’t make people feel inadequate because they can’t dedicate their lives to your cause. Instead, recognize all levels of commitment.

This is the Content and Community Strategy OurCrowd Used to Get 7,000 People to Invest Over $100 MillionCMXhub - User-Generated-Communities4

Content strategy is the basis of community building. Content communicates your voice and tone, which over time build trust if consistent.

CMXhub - User-Generated-Communities5[Video] Betabrand’s CEO on Crowdsourcing Everything Through Your Community
When done correctly, crowdsourced images and video can far out-shine expensive, professionally created content. Betabrand shows us how.

From the Blog

7 Examples of Awesome User-Generated Content Campaigns

From Lowe’s to Calvin Klein to Borden Cheese, these 7 companies prove that just about any community can leverage user-generated content.

From the 2014 CMX Summit

Jack Shepherd of BuzzFeed: The 6 Principles for Crowdsourcing Content


Buzzfeed is one of the most successful user-generated content communities in the world. Their CEO shares 6 fundamental principles to their success.

2017 CMX Summit

CMX Summit is the premier conference for community professionals, founders, and organizations. Join us and hundreds of your fellow community builders in LA September 19 – 20 for 2 days of community-focused sessions and connecting with community-driven professionals.

CMX Summit brings together experts and pragmatic approaches to community for business success. Our conference seeks to expand the discussions, techniques, and tactics applied to community building and support communities and their builders at scale. We want to show businesses practical ways to invest in their communities.

Carrie Melissa Jones

Carrie Melissa Jones | @caremjo

Carrie is the COO and Founding Partner of CMX. She has built community at Chegg and Scribd and has consulted with community companies around the world. She lives in Seattle, WA with her pup, Bruce Wayne.