Last night we kicked off this year’s CIPR Cymru Social Shorts calendar in style, with a talk from Elena Cresci, community co-ordinator at theguardian.com. Social Shorts are part of CIPR Social Media Panel’s plan to take training social training across the UK.
The theme of the event was ‘A National Community’, and Elena talked attendees through her role which involves building a community, increasing engagement and facilitating open journalism. She covered each of the social networks the Guardian is active on, explaining how each one is used and which are the biggest traffic drivers.
A big emphasis was placed on ‘below the line’ activity (i.e. comments), which, as Elena admitted, have a bad reputation. However, she went on to explain the value of fostering engagement in this area, as it can be a great source of content in itself. The guardian uses positive reinforcement, such as staff picks, recommendations, replying to good comments and responding to reasonable criticism, to ensure the active members of its online community remain engaged. It also very much encourages members of staff to comment below the line and get a conversation going with readers. Each point was illustrated with recent, relevant examples from the site.
Other topics covered included timing posts to ensure maximum response, the structure and different roles within the community team at theguardian.com and the grounds on which the team may delete comments.
Elena also had some advice for those looking to build online communities of their own, which was to identify the most influential people in your chosen field and just start a conversation with them. Essentially, if you’re doing something interesting online, you will get noticed.
The takeaway message was that a healthy online community should be welcoming, informative, entertaining and collaborative. Have a look at what people thought here.
CIPR Cymru Social Shorts are sponsored and hosted by Golley Slater Cardiff. The next event is with Paul Rowland, head of web content for WalesOnline, on June 19th.