Participatory Media, there’s that buzzword again. However, you and I will have to get used to it over the next couple of weeks as I begin to compose my Participatory Media scenario.
My tutor Jonathon Hutchinson who will be referred to by the excellent abbreviation “JH” (I feel it gives him an element of street cred) suggested that we choose to work with something we love. Bearing this in mind I have chosen to work in a area I am passionate about – holidays. This will not be travel per se but more the embodiment of escapism from day to day life.
The concept is the development of portable houses ‘pods’ and to have these located on people’s property where they have access to land and are looking at generating additional income. People will be directed to this accommodation via a website that has a database of travel tips that give detailed advice on things to see and do in the areas that surround the pods. The level of detail and suggestions in an area will determine the number of pods. This will allow the company an insight into preferred travel destinations and create an online media source that has a real world connection with the data it collects.
How to create this online community is where the lecture from JH was very interesting. He introduced me to the concept of seeding, creating content on platforms that reflect what you would like to see contributed to the site. This creates a hook for people who will be the first visitors to the site. Engaging people is also vital and JH put it right when he said “go where the people are”. At the moment this is Facebook and that means that my retail scenario will have to have a strong presence on Facebook if it is to survive.
The asset of my scenario is the sharing of data by fellow holiday makers. JH spoke about barriers that prevent people from contributing and I need to make this as easy as possible to grow my database. If I think about social media sites that I enjoy being part of, Pinterest is an excellent example, I rarely contribute to the content of these platforms. I need to assess what makes me not contribute and look at how best to encourage people to be a part of my online community.
I also need to find a way to create hype and buzz around my idea to generate interest. The hype needs to fit with my brand story and create a strong image of what my brand will be about. It must be news worthy and encourage people to get involved. Maybe I could offer free accommodation to those that contribute an article of significant value to my website? This could be an ongoing competition and one that utilises the talent of people who want to write professionally? I could capitalise on student travel stories and low budgets? The possibilities are endless and I am excited about beginning to work on building my own online community.
Today people expect and are capable of participating within a brand’s story. Due to this most companies will require some form of Participatory Media. The richness that companies get from the feedback and subsequent engagement with a brand is priceless, a skill that companies must master as they head forward into a digital age.