The first three months of the year has seen the official town website continuing to go from strength to strength as it establishes itself as one of the area’s first calls for local information.
March saw more records for viewing figures fall with a monthly total of over 22,000. The daily record was also soundly beaten when over 2700 tuned on a single day.
April has already seen the viewing figure broken again and it is not even the end of the month.
Last night at the Annual Town Assembly a report on the official town website was presented, which is reproduced below:
to: Annual Town Assemby – April 2012
Although still less than two years old the Town Website (managed by the Whitchurch Association) has developed into something much larger than we thought possible. In most respects this is good, but it has also become daunting.
A year ago we were staggered to have reached 10,000 views a month. At the end of 2011 it reached 20,000; this month it is close on breaking 30,000 – 1000 a day is now not unusual.
The main cause is regular addition of up-to-date news and event reporting with marketing through social networking – Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, Vimeo and Flickr. Many other media forms from newspapers to radio now regularly check the site for news information. We have also reached over 1000 Facebook ‘Friends’ allowing a level of interaction that strengthens community involvement in the site.
Success in many areas
The site has focussed on local news, events listings and covering business activities, with around 1000 items having been added over the last year. But there has been an unforeseen development from the success. The site has been to the forefront of some campaigns – notably Broadband, Harvest Home planning issues, QEII Park voting, and Torch Relay, and more recently traffic issues. As a result the site now gets asked to support and even run campaigns – eg. a local newspaper asked us to support the Arctic Convoy medals campaign while some residents wanted assistance in improving local postal delivery!
Marketing the site
There is regular marketing of the site through alignment with other events and activities, for example by providing web support to other organisations while promotional support has been given for events like the Christmas Launch. The site really does need help but that will always be the situation. Several new ‘contributors’ have come on board and encouragement for more will continue. One-to-one training sessions continue to be held.
A public meeting was held last December to encourage participation and to show the open community nature of the site. Although constructive, attendance was low, but some ideas to take forward came out of it. The ’Comms Team’ is also been involved in several other activities. It attends the ‘Groups Together’ meetings, supports other events where possible, and encourages community interaction as a means to improving Whitchurch.
The website team have recently started looking at revamping parts of the site. We are also aware that some of the business and community content requires a spring clean and this needs someone to undertake this necessary but laborious task. There is also be a need for some technical upgrades which will certainly require external assistance.
There are three other sites in which Whitchurch Association has a stake, Gill Nethercott Centre, Whitchurch Association and Whitchurch Films. These are maintained independently from the town website. There is hope that they could be incorporated into the town website at some time.
Site belongs to Whitchurch
Above all it should be stressed that the site is community-owned and belongs to the people of Whitchurch, who can all have access to put their own information up themselves.