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Community is king, content is queen

Community sites are “taking real world sociality and turbo-charging it”, while a “selfish advantage” for getting involved never goes amiss.

Social networking guru Charles Wells, of Kinship Networking, set the scene at AOP’s digital seminar on community, suggesting publishers’ primary mission of creating engaging content is enhanced by “creating, managing and cultivating communities around that content.”

Telegraph.co.uk communities editor Shane Richmond said brand was a key motivator on its blogging platform, with increasing user engagement for an audience that might otherwise never write or comment online.

Built in 17 days, MyTelegraph gains 1000 signups every month and has already paid for itself, an important element in TMG's sales strategy. Later this year, the team would be “spreading the social” across the site, adding group functions, tools, and easier sharing.

Another motivator for interaction can be setting a “collective public challenge”, such as defining and mapping all public art in the UK. Big Art Mob, explained Channel 4's new media commissioning editor Adam Gee, is a multiplatform community project, combining web, mobile and eventually TV.

Exposing all kinds of live data, including featured contributors, picture views and ‘where’s the action?’ live feed on its homepage were all effective ways of encouraging involvement.

For Trinity Mirror, and Teeside Evening Gazette editor Darren Thwaites, hyper-local community blogging sites, with more than 250 contributors uploading news directly, resulted in a range of “rich content for reverse publishing”, a range of new advertising opportunities online, and a new direction for local news sites.

Download Charles Wells and Richard Gregory's presentations from the event.

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