Tag Archives: twitter

Q&A with Laura Oliver, community coordinator, news at the Guardian

What does your job involve?
My job is to be a bridge between readers and users of Guardian.co.uk and our news team and to try and find better ways for readers to engage with, interact with and consume our news output. As part of this I’m responsible for monitoring feedback to Guardian.co.uk on and off site, coming up with new ideas and editorial products off the back of reader ideas and demands and ensuring that guardian.co.uk‘s news is making connections to the wider web and other online communities to better distribute our news and find new audiences for it.
Laura Oliver the Guardian
What is an online community, is it just about comments?
Comments are a part of it but they only represent those readers who feel happy to contribute in this way. We need to work on ways to encourage and manage constructive comments whilst tapping into other ways to get our readers involved and – more importantly – represented on site and in the newsmaking process. Online communities exist in so many forms – from social networks and forums, to blogs with dedicate followings and gamers. They can spring up through interest, geography or platform. Being aware of the range of online communities out there can only help us reach a wider audience with our news, and if we’re clever about it we can find ways to serve particular communities without duplicating their existing networks.
Why are online communities important?
Simply put – because for online news this is your audience, this is who is consuming, sharing and spreading your work. Just as a good business will listen to what it’s customers especially regulars say, we too need to be aware of the people who are reading and interacting with Guardian news on and off site. They are important in lots of ways: for feedback, traffic, generating new editorial ideas, keeping us accountable and filling in the gaps in both our news coverage of a certain event and in a broader sense, by taking a story or issue to new angles and new discussions.
Why are newspapers in particular trying to create and encourage them?
To create a news product that is of the web and not just on it by bringing in interactivity; to hold us to account; to make use of the expertise and knowledge of our readers and encourage them to fill in gaps in our coverage and make it better; and because building a community will hopefully build loyalty and time spent on a site or page, which can also have commercial potential.
How do you manage a large online community?
At the moment we’re trying lots of things: rewarding good or constructive users (in different ways); working closely with our fantastic moderation team; encouraging all members of the news team to get involved in community building and management; using tools to track communities around news eg on Twitter and analytics to measure what they are doing on our site and when to inform future decisions. There’s no one golden rule – it’s about having different strategies that will work with different sorts of readers and can operate within the boundaries and language of other existing communities such as Facebook or bloggers.
Is this journalism?
I think this is a question that needs to die! It’s an increasingly important part of the news production process and a role that sits along with many that would either previously not have existed or not been considered journalism by those who want to keep that term reserved as a means of protection in a rapidly changing workplace. To anyone who questions the importance of communities to journalism, you have to ask- well what are producing this news for if not to be consumed by your audience? They now want to be part of the informing process and there’s no way to turn back that tide; journalism should no longer exist in isolation from its audience
What is the future for online communities?
In terms of online communities around news, I think we’re only just starting to see how news organisations can make the most of what the web has to offer to better serve their readers around news coverage. We’ll see more tools springing up to help us manage and build communities and lots more experiments in doing so – both good and bad. Hopefully we’ll also see continue growth across the industry in these kind of roles and understanding of why they are important.
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Filed under Lizzie Davis, online communities

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.

kaleidoscope

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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Filed under Lizzie Davis

India leads the way in online cricket communities

Social networking and cricket? That's wicket!

In England the Cricket World Cup just put a dampener on our Ashes victory. Defeats against Ireland and Bangladesh embarrassed Strauss, Swanny and co. and we limped out against Sri Lanka in the Quarter Final after the viewing public had generally lost interest.

Not so for the rest of the world, however, as up to 1.25 billion people watched co-hosts India beat Pakistan in the semi final, one of sport’s biggest ever global TV audiences and almost certainly the highest audience for the cricket world itself. Cricket is big business, especially on the Indian sub-continent where the Indian Premier League is quickly becoming one of the most profitable leagues in world sport today.

Riding this wave are Digital Vidya, a New Dehli-based media firm, who have set up the world’s first cricket social networking site Soch.la under the slogan “Why watch cricket alone?”. Currently only working with Facebook, the site will soon allow members to create their own accounts and sync in other social networking platforms including Twitter. It allows cricket fans to “follow” and be “followed”, allowing their reaction to be seen and responded to by other cricket fans who are following the same match in other locations across the world. On top of this, the site concurrently provides users with score updates and uses opinion polls to gauge viewer thoughts on the match.

The site has already had thousands of users signing up, especially in the lead up to today’s blockbuster match. However, the platform and interface remain very rudimentary and the logo, featuring what resembles a cabbage patch kid in New York, a cabbage patch kid in Bangalore and, for some unknown reason, a gormless cricket-watching Ron Weasley in Dehli, is pretty bizarre. Nevertheless, this demonstrates a niche in social networking and online communities to provide specialist subject information in a live-text format alongside user-generated content and specialist communication via social networking. It also gives a further demonstration of how India, one of Facebook’s fastest growing markets, is not only adopting, but revolutionising online communities.

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Filed under Beth Adamson, online communities

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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Filed under Aleeza Khan, online communities

Five weird online communities

You’ve heard about Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and Myspace. But here are ten that I bet haven’t made it onto your radar. And probably for good reason…

1. 23andme
Spit in a bottle, send it off to 23andme and they claim to be able to analyse your DNA to tell you about your physical traits (which presumably you already know about), risk factors for 97 diseases, your predicted response to drugs and learn about your ancestral origins.  Medical break-through or Chillingly Orwellian?

2. Blippy
Join this website to share all your credit card purchases with the world. They don’t quite put it that way of course. This is the PR version: “Blippy is a site that lets you share your purchases and see what your friends are buying online and in real life.” A step too far?

3. Togetherville
A social networking site for kids – a kind of facebook for little’uns. Much is made of the safety of this site on their welcome page but am I alone in thinking kids should be making real life friends, not learning how to become “responsible digital citizens”. I also object to the use of the words “awesomosity” and “kidtacularity” in this video.

4. Klout
Think online communities set you free from the politics of the real world? Think again. Klout is a social network which measures your, well, clout, in the digital world. There must be a rule written somewhere that humans can’t just DO an activity, they have to MEASURE themselves doing it. And find out who is best. Sigh.

5. Miso
Miso is an attempt to make that most private of activities – watching TV – social. You can see what your friends are watching, see what they think of it and they can see what you’re watching. And points are involved somewhere along the way. Perhaps you gain points for an education programme but lose them for watching Dancing on Ice…

 

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Filed under Lizzie Davis, online communities

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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Filed under Lizzie Davis, online communities

The Telegraph’s Top Tips

Ever wondered what the experts say are the best methods of managing your community?

Kate Day

Kate Day is the Telegraph’s Online Communities Editor and photographer. We were lucky enough to speak to her to find out her Top Five Tips for building an online community.

1. Know your audience

  • Who are they? What do they care about? What do they have in common?
  • What can you offer them?
  • Where are they already talking on the web? Don’t use the latest social network if your audience is on Facebook or communicating via blogs.

2. Listen, listen and keep listening

People will give you all sorts of clues about what they like and what they don’t. They will tell you directly, for example using comments, but will also leave clues indirectly, for example in the data about what content is viewed the most and shared the most.

3. Be useful

Don’t make the mistake of valuing content that is difficult to produce. Posting links to great content elsewhere might be just as valuable as an original interview for your audience.

4. Involve people

Find creative ways to make people feel involved, whether it’s by writing about featured members of your community, running polls or giving them a glimpse of what is coming up. Don’t just open a comment box and expect people to submit lengthy opinions, give them all sorts of ways to gradually get more involved. The more you encourage people to participate in a positive way, the less space there is for trolls to derail your community and the more members are likely to contribute.

5. Use technology to help you

Don’t let yourself use the “I’m not technical” cop out. Most of the basic principles and tools that will help you to build your community are not mind-blowingly complicated. Using technology well isn’t about jumping on the next new thing, it’s about being aware of what’s available and selecting the tools that will be most useful for you.

So there you go – top tips from the woman in the know. Now go and get building your community and get your reader gripped.

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Filed under Aleeza Khan, online communities