Strategies and Tools for Community Building
Journalism and high-impact media is no longer just about the content that you deliver, it’s about how you build an engaged community. Community building impacts opportunities for creating new models of journalism, revenue generation and list building. This session will build on the previous session and dive into strategies and tools around community building and what they mean for your organization. Moderator: Joe Baker, Care2
- Ben Rattray, Change.org
- Susan Mernit, Consultant & Founder, Oaklandlocal.com
- Elena Haliczer, Adaptive Semantics
Elena Haliczer, Adaptive Semantics
User-generated content and community-engagement generates more traffic and more interaction with a media organization’s content. But once you get the popularity and engagement then you must deal with management/engagement issues. A potential solution is JuLiA, a community management algorithm used by Huffington Post and CNN. Adaptive Semantics works with Disqus and other third party comment management services to provide sentiment analysis that is driven by intelligent systems and semantic text. Behind the system is an algorithm, JuLiA that you train with text.
JuLiA has been trained on comments submitted, especially politically focused sites. She recognizes abusiveness in content and automatically deletes or publishes comments in real time. Eliminates the back logs that people complain about on popular sites. But how do you discover good content in your community? There are three criteria.
- Engagement – people are participating and sharing.
- List-building – they get new members with each new story.
- Revenue – they connect activists to major non-profits, as we’re engaging them, we’re also making money off of them.
Ben Rattray, Change.org
Change.org is here to help. If there is a story that is breaking, they’ll help start a campaign around it to engage communities. They are willing to partner with news organizations to be the direct actors to flesh out the user and community engagement around a story or issue.
Change.org is geared towards driving impact on social and political issues via community engagement. They are already working with Media Consortium members, including AlterNet and Mother Jones to build campaigns around content.
They’ve campaigned successfully against corporations. More details of these campaigns are in the above slideshow. Sample campaigns include fighting the banning of books featuring same sex couples at Scholastic book fairs; pushing Choice Hotels to play a more active role in preventing child trafficking; and preventing Froot Loops from being categorized as a “smart choice” for breakfast.
Susan Mernit, Oakland Local
Oaklandlocal.com is a hyper local journalism site that combines reported-quality journalism with community-oriented stories. They’re a hybrid between a community site and a quality journo site. Oakland Local put a lot of effort into building relationships with its community. These are their recommendations:
- Talk to people in the community.
- Have a database of local non-profits, ones relevant to the area, and spoke with them to see what they needed before launching.
- Present publication as having a wide range of views.
- Do things with the community, not for the community.
- Use social networks but also talk to people in person often. Everyone is a partner, which provides them all the space to allow impact.
- Oakland Local is not an advocacy group, but they support and work with advocacy groups.
If you say you want community and you don’t have a community manager, you’re not equipped. You need volunteers trained to help you. You have to be relevant, look at your stats and comments and if it’s not working, then you have to do it better. Not only about engagement but also about engaging relevancy.