An interesting Online Journalism class, (as part of BCU’s journalism degree) yesterday.
I had the pleasure of meeting Nick Booth, aka podnosh – Podcaster, and blogger. We had an interesting discussion about improving Environmental News Online (ENO) as a brand, and improving its community – this is due to the fact that the level of content on the site is steadily declining – something which me and Rachael need to address.
Building an Online Community
The idea of building an online community, and in turn, increasing online presence, centres around a few key points.
- Have clear policies, but invite users to build.
This is a simple point really. ENO should be making sure that it’s policies are clear – which they are. ENO should also be doing more to invite more users to have more of a say with the website.
- Actively recruit new members.
I think that this is something that ENO could be doing a lot better. As an online community, when a unique user views content on the website, we should encourage comments, and also registration.
- Welcome new people.
Following on from the last point, new users should be made to feel welcome and part of the community instantly. Their online reputation will only increase once they start commenting on other stories, other blogs, and other websites – this will not only help the individual user, but it will also help with SEO, and driving traffic back to the website.
- Provide a range of ways to participate.
This is simple. Users should be able to have endless opportunities to contribute to the website. From filling out a simple ‘contact’ form to get in touch with the webmaster, to commenting on other content, and also being able to upload audio and video.
- Highlight the good contributors and reward them.
Registered users who use the website frequently, and deliver high quality content, as well as commenting on other content should be recognised by other users of the website as a quality source of information, and reliable too.
- Anticipate problems.
This simply means to be aware, and anticipate any problems that may arise so that proper procedures are in place for if/when they do happen. It also means to be aware of subjects or issues that are being discussed on the website that may be a potential minefield, such as high profile stories, or stories around race, or different cultures, etc – the wrong portrayal can lead to problems.
- Go where the reader is.
This involves me knowing what else interestes the users of ENO, and tailoring the website to suit those users needs, and giving them a more personalised experience.
- Go offline!
And finally, spend some time AWAY FROM THE COMPUTER! After all, we are only human – and spending so much time keeping track of what’s going on online isn’t really…healthy, is it?(Thanks to Paul Bradshaw for the resources to write the above points.)
Blogs and their Communities
The team of journalists that write for ENO already have a strong sense of community, with regular traffic coming to their blogs. When asked in the class how they think they could use this to create a more active community around ENO, this is how they responded:
So, where does the site go from here? – I’ll blog soon about an update on how the Joomla! SEO is going, as well as improving the ENO online community.