How Innovative Community Participation Can Revolutionise User Generated Content
Companies and brands know that the power of success is within their communities. And as the relationships are being shifted more and more online, so is the way community engagement is being built.
We are about to experience an interesting rise of fast-developing, powerful community platforms, which create stronger bonds between members, local communities and the inventors themselves.
Without a doubt, the leader of these innovations has been the Guardian newspaper, and is yet again surprising us with another experimental tool.
A recent partnership between the newspaper and UK mobile operator EE, is going to revolutionise journalism even more, by outsourcing journalistic stories and allowing the masses to join them on their reporting mission.
It will be interesting to see how this crowd sourcing mobile app called the Guardian Witness, is going to revolutionise news. This innovation, which aims to become a Citizen Journalists App, is set to encourage people from across the globe to share their videos, photos and news from their locations. The users are being invited to join sets of ‘assignments’ posted by editors, like ‘How are you celebrating Earth Day?’; ‘London Marathon: who are you running for?’ or ‘Did you spot the Argentine meteor?.’
By this, users are being turned into active news contributors who engage directly with the Guardian’s team and are given the chance to provide news which have the potential to become a breaking story. Some of the submissions have the possibility to also be featured on the Guardian website or in the Guardian and Observer newspapers.
“At the Guardian we have a long history of getting our readers involved in our journalism,” says Joanna Geary, the Guardian’s social and communities editor. “GuardianWitness will further reinforce our recognition that journalism is now a two-way conversation and will open up our site as we never have before.”
Guardian Witness is not the first of this sort of digital project from the Guardian, as back in 2012 another journalism toolkit, n0tice, was launched for publishers, brands, communities & developers. It was more of an experimental start-up to encourage people to share local news, community events and special offers.
The really nice feature of this tool is the availability to view fans’ tweets, Instagram shots and posts on a map by location. You can view them on the Guardian’s music blog pages, as well as a dedicated N0tice portal.
As the Next Web points out: ‘It’s also worth noting that code from the platform is being published and shared with an open licence, meaning n0tice content could start appearing in third-party apps via its API’.
Community participation in architecture
It will be rather interesting to follow this trend as even the architecture industry is tapping into community participation platforms.
The HB Network aspires to speed up estate decision making by making them more efficient, helping people and organisations within buildings to connect with their owners, tenants or service providers. “Architects who worked on a building can make a project attached to the building which can be found by anyone looking at that building” explains Su Butcher. There are also aspirations for this site to become a sort of ‘dating service’ for landlords, tenants and their agents too.
The growing trend of architects and designers embracing social media, particularly Twitter and Pinterest, has been noticed by Philips and Light Collective, and converted into a collaboration for yet another creative platform: LightCollector.
Obviously, creative minds find inspiration from photography and visuals, and this is exactly what the app and website were created for. Yet again, its users are being invited to capture and share images, which could become inspiration to lighting designers, architects, interior designers and others. This not only fulfils their requirements to speed up their image search but also stimulate their work and creative process with an image bank provided from users all around the world.
Digital community projects may be getting bigger
I believe that user generated content is going to become a very important trend and part of our marketing strategy. It is probably just a matter of time before big brands and news outlets will follow and introduce similar concepts. What we see right now may be just a taste of the upcoming trends, where the public is being encouraged to engage even further with the brands. These sorts of apps not only transform us into reporters, but also allow those with a passion for interesting findings fulfil the dreams of ‘unconventional careers’.
The question is, can any news be united by a tweet?