Meg Pickard on hecklers and engagement

A few notes from a Webstock talk by Meg Pickard, then director of user and community experience at the Guardian. I enjoyed her riff on who the original hecklers were, and her points on how to engage with a news audience.

Content, Communities, Collaboration, Curation

  • Think about how to make media social, rather than how to make social media
  • Users interact with content in different ways – consume, react, curate, create
  • It’s hard for publishers to change their thinking about user curation and creation
  • It’s about not just letting readers have their say, but enabling them to string stories together in new and interesting ways, to create new contexts and tell their own stories
  • Creation – lower barrier to entry, make it easier for users to create media in such a way that maintains quality
  • Bugbear – social media is not the same thing as social networking
  • A news website with content and a big arrow pointing to a room where you can talk about it is not the goal
  • When you offer content with a social element on the side, the social element doesn’t add anything to the content
  • Content experience should be enhanced by and added to by social experience
  • We used to say content is king, now we say context is king
  • At the Guardian we don’t just think about text and bung comments on, we think about the story, what are appropriate means to tell the story – audio, video, text, imnages, social, data
  • Patterns tell stories, patterns within data
  • Social media doesn’t need to be sociable. It’s about individuals doing what they want to do and the fact that there’s a social outcome is a bonus. We tag Flickr images for our own ends, not to make it easier for other people. Yet it makes it easier for all of us.

Five things which improve participation: a Guardian guide for editors

  1. Commission, write, edit and curate for the web (even if first published in print) – eg links
  2. Plan for and predict likely interaction ( do we want people to chip in with experiences, to support us, to argue, to debate among themselves, to debate with us?)
  3. Participate and encourage participation (be part of your community)
  4. Recognise and reward quality contributions
  5. Listen: be inspired; curate; follow up; act (use conversations to create news stories, go in new directions)

And finally, be a host, not just a publisher.

Here’s Meg in action:

Meg Pickard – Webstock 09 from Webstock on Vimeo.