How to make magic with strangers

The final keynote of this year’s community conference was Lila King, self appointed Participation Director at CNN – the world’s largest channel for news.

Lila King told us about making collaborate news – or magic with strangers – at the online and user driven community iReport, which started in 2005.

iReport is a platform for participating in the CNN news, and the community has just reached 1 million users – or iReporters, as they are called. On iReport, users can post stories, videos, photos or texts. The very first iReport was about a squirrel that was really really hot – not exactly a news breaking story, yet still the beginning of a successful user driven community.

Lila King taught us a few important lessons when engaging with users and communities:

Lesson #1: Be specific about your wants and needs

Lesson #2: Make a promise and take the users seriously

Lesson #2,5: If you make a promise, you have to keep it

Lesson #3: Create lots of ways to participate in the community

Lesson #4: Make a framework for creativity – if you are too specific no one will participate, if you aren’t specific, you just create a lot of noise

Lesson #5: Be ready to turn on a dime – you have to be adaptive to users, changes and needs

Lila King’s main point  is that users will adapt to social tools and make them work in the specific moment that they themselves need it. Therefore, iReport is not just about generating news, it is also about generating loyal users.

Let the communities talk

Next speaker in line on the Community Conference in Copenhagen was Uffe Kjems, Community Manager at TC Electronics. The company has one of Denmark’s most popular Facebook pages with 235,000 fans and 13,000 followers on Twitter.

His key advice to engaging with users on social platforms is: Give them something to talk about – and let them talk. 

In TC Electronics, all acts and statements on social media is strongly tied to the overall company and product strategy – and he advices companies to do the following:

  • Create ongoing relevant and engaging content – videos are essential
  • Keep the communication at eye level
  • Be transparent: The truth will always come out
Community Manager Jeff Beekhuis from Trendsales also contributed with good advice. Trendsales is Denmarks largest online shopping site with 600,000 users and 750,000 ads. His key advices are: engage users, create freedom – it’s the users’ platform, know your target group on each platform and know your unique selling proposition.