49,406 dedicated followers within weeks.

A #AnzacLive hashtag seen 51.5 million times across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

And a story-sharing experience like no other.

AnzacLive is News Corporation’s ground-breaking social media project marking the centenary of World War One. Launched a month before Anzac Day 2015, it became a sensation overnight: offering a new, vibrant and highly interactive way of exploring the events of Gallipoli and the wider war, through the eyes of people who were there. At its heart lies a question: what would it be like to talk to those men and women of 1915, who are so similar to us today? Using detailed journals kept by ten real people, AnzacLive recreated their lives on Facebook - posting daily pictures and updates from across the century, as if the characters were living through the events of 100 years earlier in parallel time. Followers embraced the concept immediately, captivated by being able to chat to diarists like soldier Archie or nurse Alice, who would answer questions in their own words within minutes. The team of 30 journalists who volunteered as the characters’ custodians got to know their stories intimately - handling a potentially sensitive topic with care and intense emotional investment. Descendants of the characters were hugely supportive. Followers offered hundreds of heartwarming stories; among them, messages of love from people overseas who suddenly realised they could now get to know a long-lost ancestor who went to war decades ago. Supported by News Corp Australia’s mastheads, AnzacLive has created a passionate online community, provided an extraordinary perspective on the First World War and set a milestone in the use of social media.

Justin Lees on the Anzac Live Project.