I have been thoroughly involved with our Participatory Project ‘My Morning Story’, along with members Madeline Rebbechi, Taylah Kleid, Georgina Willis and Thomas Russel. To start off with I helped developed our key concept, and attended all, bar one, of our weekly meetings. In terms of concrete effort, I helped write and edit our supporting Project Plan document, specifically:
- The collaborative contract
- The Twitter platform summary
- Adding to Marketing strategies section
I helped curating of our submissions. I was mainly working with Twitter, so I would tweet regular call outs for specific material, retweet relevant tweets, promote our account and hashtag on my own account. I would also help curate the Tweets by posting good quality ones up on our Tumblr Account, which was where we showcased our more polished pieces. I also approached friends and acquaintances who I felt would have something of quality to contribute to the project, which proved fruitful. In terms of the final presentation, I was the sole ‘spokesperson’/ presented for the group, so I am writing the speech to accompany our PowerPoint, then recording it for the Slideshare Presentation, and finally presenting it in person at the Lecture.
This participatory project has provided a lot of insight into how the different social media platforms function, and the best ways to engage interactive participants across these different mediums.
We had static callouts in the ‘information’ sections of all our platforms (Twitter, ABC Pool, Facebook, Tumblr and Instagram), however this method only proved relatively successful on Tumblr and ABC Pool. I believe this is because they are both sites that encourage sharing between unrelated parties (more so than the other platforms) hence a static call out is more effective in communicating with users who just stumble upon the project. In the case of ABC Pool and Tumblr it worked and we did have unrelated people contributing on these two mediums.
However, for Twitter (and through that, Instagram) and Facebook, active callouts were required to keep the ‘My Morning Story’ profile coming up on their Twitter/News feeds, and in people’s minds. We noticed significant influxes of contributions when we made active call outs for contributions. As these were our main avenues for submissions we found not only doing active callouts, but also tailoring them to request specifically audio or text pieces worked most effectively in getting submissions.
As Twitter is a largely uncontrollable medium (yet our main submission avenue) the content ranged a lot in quality and content. So further into our project, when we decided we wanted to start creating a more polished look, we started promoting some of our top showcase entries, to inspire similar entries. We also started personally approaching specific people who we thought would have something good to contribute, or had already submitted a good quality piece. This worked really well, as by personally asking people it puts more accountability on them, and they were more inclined to do participate, then a broad arching static call out for instance.
Facebook, we found wasn’t the best way to generate participation and we didn’t really have entries submitted over it, however it was one of the most effective ways of informing a large number of people about our project. So it worked well as an information hub.
Instagram photos, with accompanying text, posted over Twitter made up the majority of our entries. This is probably because it’s the most time efficient way to contribute, as many of our target audience have a smart phone they can just snap a shot with. So with busy, people on the go this was the easiest way to contribute. However, that is why we had to start tailoring our call outs, asking for text and audio, so we could get a wider range of submissions. It was interesting in that the pieces which obviously did have more time and effort put into it, like Tess Lawley’s audio piece, did get more recognition for it (Showcased on ABC Pool), as people still appreciate it when effort is managed to put in, perhaps even more so in this fast paced day and age.
How I’ve rethought contemporary media practice:
This project has caused me to rehash my thoughts on contemporary media practice. This project has shown that to have a successful online media campaign it had to interconnect over multiple platforms, as it just didn’t have enough reach using just one platform. All these social media sites need to feed into one another, to help increase exposure and chances of engaging audiences and participation.
However, the personally approaching people for submissions and word of mouth were some of our most successful means of drumming up good quality submissions, which goes to show that in terms of gathering submissions, which highlighted the importance of direct contact and putting some accountability on a person.
It became obvious when watching the final presentations, and also with our project a bit, that to enter a social media campaign you must have a clear idea of what you want to achieve, what you need from your audiences and what participation you are expecting, as without that the viewers get confused of what is needed from them, and they are less likely to participate. Yet, if they understand the rules or patterns needed to become part of the community being created then they are more likely to start contributing content, in an effort to build their identity, and project their self-actualization.
Also, a successful project really needs to be quick and easily accessible if it is to flourish in the fast paced, instantaneous world of social media. It was clear that projects that required a lot of effort out of their participants weren’t as successful in getting off the ground. As said in Shao’s UGM reading, people like to consume and contribute in ‘bite-sized time efficient ways’.
All in all, this project has taken me further into the world of Social Media, and the understanding the mechanisms of ‘what makes it tick’, and how to get it to work for you. It’s been an insightful task and I feel much more well equipped in how to deal with the fast-paced online world of User-Generated Media.