The SNA Foundation recently held a webinar for the participants of the McCormick's Specialized Reporting Institute symposium. As a follow-up to symposium, Jane Stevens, Director of Media Strategies with the Lawrence Journal-World shared their year-old community health niche site, wellcommons.com, with the group.
Wellcommons.com is a community health niche site that allows the community to contribute content and decide what is newsworthy.
So how did they go about developing the site? The community was welcomed in from the very beginning. Six months prior to launching the site, they enlisted nonprofit groups, individual contributors, businesses and advocacy groups. About 30-40 people came to meetings regularly to discuss the site and worked with developers and programmers on what they wanted to see. For instance, they were adamant about people having to use their real names to have more earnest discussion and debate. According to Stevens, anyone can post and they allow three anonymous posts but then are required to use their real name. “It’s Facebook for the local community,” said Stevens.
The community is contributing much of the content on the site. About three days a week, they are getting half or more from contributors. And the community has embraced it. One contributor commented it’s like “putting communities in the driver’s seat” in terms of making decisions of what is newsworthy.
“We encouraged the nonprofits, the businesses and interest groups to start groups” said Stevens. Currently the site boasts 130 groups. Businesses “pay to play” – paying about $150-$200 a month which includes a Marketplace business listing. They have a hospital as an exclusive site sponsor.
They added the ability for contributors to post videos from YouTube and photos they can upload from their own computer. “We encourage them to use a lot of visuals,” said Stevens.
They have about 2,000 members; 19 groups post something every two days. They are getting about 120,000 page views per month, and are anticipating 250,000 by next year.
On the wish list: A goals application where you can track progress of projects and an events calendar. SNA will be holding a webinar for all SNA and APME members on Thursday, July 14, at 2:00 p.m. EST showcasing the lessons learned from the Specialized Reporting Institute’s symposium. Click here for more information and to register for this webinar.