The bizarrely named Streetfight website has a great post on the 29 August 2012 by Stephanie Miles which I can see having relevance further than the hyperlocal web sites it is focused on. Entitled “6 Ways to Encourage User Contributions on Hyperlocal Sites” the advice echoed for me across many recent Internet experiences.
Tip one is give a dedicated phone number. In my personal case a recent need to make a doctor’s appointment had me Googling for the sake of ease their reception number and guess what? In all those lovely personal friendly personal words littering page after page I couldn’t see a telephone number. Luckily Google presented it elsewhere…
Tip two is to respond personally to inquiries. In my years of local government I had to repeat this time after time to service providers to respond usefully and quickly to inquiries – so this is not just hyperlocal!
The third tip is to take the conversation onto Facebook, which may be correct in some circumstances in the broader context but highly likely in hyperlocal.
As a fourth tip there is the need to draw in content, not just wait for it and for the fifth let your readers know that you are wanting material and finally show appreciation when you get it. This last one is for me an important one. As with consultation the recipient must publish what has been received with any necessary response within a reasonable time in order to create a full loop and the potential for a broader conversation. If you have no intention of holding that conversation stop before you create the site – it’s only window dressing or brochureware of the sort favoured by traditional politicians.
Six useful tips for any website, but especially the hyperlocal.