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First Chapters’ writing contest

Jon concepted and secured this first-of-its-kind contest after a successful partnership with, whereby Gather members could be published on

Looking to “control Gather’s own destiny” rather than rely on a partner for successful implementation and promotion, Jon’s vision was for this competition to be a first-time author's gateway to publication. Today, anyone from the community can enter by posting the first chapter of the proposed novel in the first month of the contest. At the end of the first month and each month thereafter, judges narrow down the participants based on the quality of the content posted thus far.

One novelist wins a guaranteed publishing contract with Touchstone/Simon & Schuster, a $5,000 cash prize and extensive promotion by Borders. This contest has been so successful that it is in its 4th or 5th running, each time with a new theme.

‘First Chapters’ group page

Politics on

For the 2006 midterm elections, Gather engaged grassroots bloggers (one left wing, one right wing) in each of the key battleground states to express their opinions on the various candidates on almost a daily basis leading up to the election.

This stimulating content served as a cornerstone for the Marketing department’s organic search (SEO) and paid search (SEM) strategies, enabling Gather to acquire new members cost-effectively at a blistering pace. The campaign was so successful, servers crashed repeatedly the day before the election.

Ultimately, this initiative set the stage for Gather’s Politics vertical strategy, whereby Gather was able to bring in celebrity politicians as guest writers and hosts for its “Ask the Politician” chat series to keep the community growing and engaged until the 2008 Presidential election.

Politics group page


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