Tag Archives: bloggers

Changing Media Summit 2011: what happened?

The Guardian are leading the way in social media among so-called “old media” companies. their forums are thriving, their website is constantly updated and each individual section has its own individual twitter feed.

Is it any surprise, then, to find that they also host one of the most important events in the media calendar?

The Changing Media Summit took place last week and had speeches from the CEO of YouView, CEO and chairman of AOL, co-founder of Foursquare, director of partnerships Facebook.


Picture: barto, Flickr

At a few hundred pounds per ticket we lowly bloggers had to give the event a miss. But I’ve a hunch that many of you did too. Thankfully, the Guardian, wise wise media provider that it is have posted interviews with many of the speakers online. This is where all the developments are happening, community makers. This is future in the making.

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Leading your readers

As Robert Niles from The Online Journalism Review, insightfully said yesterday “writing in any interactive environment is an act of leadership.” You need to grab the leadership of your community with both hands and set the tone, style and informative model for your readers, otherwise someone else will.

In true leadership style Niles has written six snippets of advice – which he has invited us all to share with you – to encourage well informed, rewarding and interesting writing from your readers when they engage in your community.

1) Write what you know

The best posts come from people writing about a personal experience. Tell us about an activity you’re deeply involved with, a subject you’ve studied in-depth or an experience you’ve had. Maybe it’s just a review of a new restaurant you’ve visited, or a place you visited on vacation. Whatever you write about, forget for a moment about what others might say – or have said – about something and just tell us your story.

2) Don’t tell us if something’s ‘good’ or ‘bad’

Whenever a writer declares something ‘good’ or ‘bad’, the piece becomes about the writer, and not the thing the writer is writing about. Whenever you read a review like that from someone you don’t know, don’t you start thinking about whether you can trust this reviewer or not? So leave those types of words out of your writing.

3) Describe, in detail

Instead, describe your experience, using as many clear details as you can. Put us in the situation with you, and describe as you would to a friend who wasn’t there. Take us through the experience, step by step. Consider the fives senses – sight, sound, smell, taste and touch – and describe each, as appropriate to whatever you’re writing about. Consider these statements:

“The hamburger was terrible.”

“The hamburger looked and tasted like a McDonald’s heat-lamp refugee, thin and wilted, but it cost £12 instead.”

I’d much rather read the second post – it keeps the focus on the burger itself, rather than the writer’s reaction to it. I’ll certainly remember the second statement more than I would the first, too. And I’d be far more likely to forward it to my friends. Keep that in mind when you’re writing. Detailed descriptions really help other readers feel like they are there with you, sharing this experience.

4) Link, don’t copy

If you find something else online you want to share with other readers, don’t just copy and paste it to the site. Link to it instead. That way, other readers can see the original source for themselves.

(In following Niles’ advice myself, read the rest of his article here.)

5) Explain why you link

Whenever you link to something, though, explain why you’re linking to it. What’s it about? Why is it important to you? Why do you think it would be important to the rest of us? You explanation helps start a conversation about the link.

(I linked to his article as I believe it is extremely useful for anyone wanting to learn more about this topic. Not only is his article insightful, the entire site is a great read).

6) Respect, and respond

When other readers share their experiences on the site, respect them. If you don’t feel that their experience reflects your experience with the same event/subject/place, then respond by sharing your experience with it.

Again, leave out those judgmental words (especially the negative ones: ‘terrible,’ ‘stupid,’ ‘awful,’ etc.), and write instead about your experience. That helps keeps everyone’s focus on the subject under discussion, and not on a emerging flame war between readers.

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The truth worth of online communities

Mariam Cook of the Guardian wrote an insightful comment piece about the true worth of online communities and the affects they have on your community in real life, or “IRL”.

As said by her son who was describing his virtual World of Warcraft life, an online community is addictive. It’s “like having another life – being in another world and doing all the things you have always dreamed of.”

To see the true addiction levels of World of Warcraft watch the clip below of the reaction a boy has to his mum telling him she has cancelled his membership.

Cook explores the fact that while they may be dangerous and addictive, they also let people who would otherwise never meet connect on many different subjects and mutual interests. Have a look at the article here

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Are Exclusive Communities better?

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Picture: Antony Theobald

In the film, The Social Network, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerburg is determined to keep the social networking site “cool”. And arguably one of the reasons that Facebook was so “cool” and successful was its perceived exclusivity. First it was only for people at Harvard, then only people at certain American universities and then only at university. Exclusivity was its appeal – at least at the start.

So is the Times Online on to a good thing with its pay wall? There is no quicker way of making something exclusive than making people pay to get in. Times Online is now an exclusive online community – and if the pay wall experiment succeeds that will be why.

Exclusivity brings with it the suggestion of quality. Times Online is the grammar school of websites, weeding out the riff raff with the equivalent of an entrance exam. Fewer trolls, fewer mindless vindictive comments on opinion pieces, more intelligent discussion.

Or will it just be a richer breed of troll? Because of course the pay wall is not like an entrance exam, you just have to pay your way in – like the worst kind of private school.

So which is the way forward do you think? The all-encompassing, trolls and all approach, as seen in the Guardian’s community, or the VIP area of Times Online?

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Local Communities Online: WHampstead

So far, this blog has dealt with communities centred around interests or specific websites. But what about old-fashioned, flesh-and-blood communities which have flowed-over (or over-flowed) on to the web?

As a resident of NW London – Willesden Green, to be precise – I am lucky enough to be part of a vibrant, witty and extremely useful online community. @WHampstead is a micro-blogger based (surprisingly) in West Hampstead who tweets about anything and everything WHamp-based. There are travel updates, hashtagged with #whamptravel, reviews of local restaurants and important news (#whampnews) from, for example, council meetings.

All hugley useful, but @WHampstead has not managed to gain nearly 2000 followers simply by re-tweeting council reports. Oh no. Because of the opt-in/opt-out set up of Twitter, it is a site which lends itself to bloggers who are not only useful but also entertaining and @WHampstead is that in droves. So his followers might get an update on the (inevitable) delays on the Jubilee line but mintues later something like this might be tweeted.

WHampstead also recognises that Twitter is not a megaphone. He retweets as much as he tweets and engages the members of his community in conversation.

So hurrah for WHampstead and his varied, informative, ridiculous Twitter stream. Here are a few of my favourites:

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Should online communities self-regulate?

We’ve spoken on here about how moderation works and who’s in charge of enforcing guidelines. But what about communities which span several different websites and platforms? Should they be regulated and if so how?

King Arthur

King Arthur's Round table - just like the blogging community?

Twespians, as I have mentioned elsewhere, is a regular “tweet-up” for people who write about, tweet about and generally think far more than is healthy about theatre. At their latest session, held at the beginning of the month, Laura Tosney, who blogs about theatre and social media, had an interesting suggestion: a Blogging Code of Honour.

I like it. It sounds like something from the stories of King Arthur. And I also think I already abided by one. That’s the thing about online communities – just like old-fashioned, flesh-and-blood communities, you have to be “nice” to be included. If you wrote vitriolic posts about the other bloggers in the community, or skulked around message boards, trolling any new post, you would be rejected by the community.

So thanks to Laura for putting it down in writing and for getting a debate going. These were the suggestions she had – click on the links to hear audio clips from her presentation (the script can be found on her own blog with the cute slides – but you don’t get the inspired ad libs). Anyway, can you think of any others to add to her list?

1. Transparency

2.Right of Reply

3. Don’t Watch from the Sidelines

4. Make it a Conversation

5. Create a community

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Filed under Lizzie Davis, online communities

Measure your performance ;)

Everyone wants to know how well they perform and how popular they are. This is ever relevant in the online world and everyone wants to boost their community and audience.

There are many simple methods that allow you to check how many hits your site has had and a plethora of ways in which to promote it, social networking being the key tool.

I have just discovered Crowdbooster, and it’s great.

Crowdbooster measures how well you are performing on Twitter and gives you insights into how to make you more effective.

We all know that Twitter presents  huge opportunities to promote your community, gain new followers and develop one-on-one relationships with your readers. Not only does it work as a promotional tool but you should strive to use it to become a leader in your community: someone who participates and understands what their reader wants and what the community is looking for.

Crowdbooster works in that they help build on the initial connection with your community and enhance your social media presence. They do what it says on the tin; they boost your crowd.

It shows you analytics that aren’t based on abstract scores but numbers that are connected to your site and its social media strategies: impressions, total reach, engagement, and more. They then give you the tools and recommendations you need to take action and improve on each one of these.

They give you in-depth statistics then arm you with the tools and strategies to build on these. It’s an indispensable tool for any site or blog that is trying to boost its readership. Sign up people, it’s a great site:  http://crowdbooster.com/

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Filed under Aleeza Khan, online communities

Including Your Reader

A key factor in managing your community is including your reader; giving your reader a voice. And one of the best ways to do this is to invite them to write a guest post of their own.

Pic credit: Imagechef.com

Of course there are logistics to consider: what’s to guarantee they will be good? That they will write well? That their comment/ opinion will be well-directed? Of course, there must be a screening process.

Let’s use a blog that I run with a few others as an example: http://nestblog.org/. A blog about home-making for the young urbanite, its essence is relating to the reader and engaging with their needs. What better way to do this that to invite the readers to do a guest blog post of their own: what they do to brighten up their Nest, their top tips, a glimpse inside their home and how they make it their own. It keeps the reader interested and makes them feel involved.

Firstly, set up an email address for the blog/ website, where people can send their posts/ pictures. This gives you the opportunity to have a read over all the potential posts and discuss with the readers turned contributors what you need.

This makes widening and engaging your community easier, gives your blog/ site more content and gives the reader a sense of belonging and ownership. This is also a good tool to widen your readership.

If you would like to write a guest post about managing your online community then please get in touch with us at managingcomms@gmail.com

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Filed under Aleeza Khan, online communities

New York Conference of Managing YOUR Community

Here is a link to a wonderful blog post by John Scalzi about how to manage your community.

Speaking at the Tools of Change conference in NYC, the video shows him on a panel with Toby Buckell and Patrick Nielsen Hayden, with Ron Hogan moderating, giving a talk called “Where Do you Go With 40,000 Readers? A Study in Online Community Building.”

There are some great tips here for how to deal with your community as it grows…enjoy!

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Filed under Aleeza Khan, online communities

Theatre addicts anonymous

Theatre is undergoing a revolution – no longer is the critic’s word the final one, no longer are they the first to publish reviews and no longer is their voice the loudest. This is the story of the rise of the theatre blogger.

Over the last few years there has been an explosion of bloggers – from the big ones like West End Whingers or The Public Reviews, to the smaller Carousel of Fantasies, There Ought to be Clowns and even my own Theatrigirl. On top of that, stage forums such on sites like Broadway World or What’s On Stage are buzzing with industry gossip, fan chat and people moaning about inappropriate audience behaviour.

speech marks bloggerThere appears to have been a never-ending appetite for theatre news and reviews which the traditional culture pages and critics were not fulfilling. And no doubt the introduction of a paywall of The Times and Sunday Times websites has also had an impact in the rise of the so-called citizen reviewer.

Theatre critics are, it must be acknowledged, a strange breed – hugely knowledgeable and inevitably harder to please than the average man on the street. The Public Reviews grew up as a reaction to this culture – everyone who writes for this site (myself included) is unpaid and has a day job, usually completely unrelated to journalism. And the site, run by actor John Roberts, now gets in excess of 100,000 visitors a month.

For all these bloggers, fans and even the occasional actor, Twitter is a vital tool to keep abreast of industry developments and two tech-savvy thesps realised that although this online interaction is all well and good, it would be nice to meet-up face to face. A tweet-up, if you will. So they started Twespians – a social evening for theatre people who tweet. Bloggers, critics, forum and community managers, theatre workers and actors will all be heading to their next event on 21 Feb. I’ll be there and gathering tips on how to manage such a vast and unwieldy online community – and trying to remember everyone’s name.


Filed under Lizzie Davis, online communities