The content on the “What we talk about” community site that I developed works at the border of a traditional blog, with its content created by its contributors; an online magazine, with editorials created by me which draw conclusions from the discussions on each topic; and a forum site, open for all to comment, share and become full contributors themselves.
Creating a community space in which all these differing voices and differing levels of engagement can be accounted for began with me, as editor, establishing an initial list of topics — like “survivor”, “support” and “care” — and of the categories of community member “personas” we were seeking to engage — for example patients, physicians, caregivers, family members, administrators, etc.
I then produced a short list of initial contributors, to ensure the site launched with a balanced amount of content from each of these types of members. Prominent links to a “Participate” submission form then allowed more and more interested visitors to be added to this list (once each had agreed to a set of guidelines which ensured their posting would not violate patient privacy laws, etc).
After I have collected each set of contributions on a topic, and comments have come in from visitors to the site (each with my approval before going live, to avoid hacks or offensive posting), I create a post which collates and reflects on the ways in which the conversation has developed, to encourage further comments from visitors.
For the phase II release, a year after the initial launch, I added a new channel for video responses we collect from our community event van (part of the Everyday Amazing campaign). Our community now has over 50 regular contributors, and has had over 60,000 unique visitors.