It was eighteen months ago we first discussed the idea of developing a publishing platform for GCOMM and LiveBackup. The idea was to create a way to develop content that we could easily share with our stakeholders, which include a broad group of people from employees and their families to customers and suppliers. The obvious choice was a blog because it’s a logical addition to an existing website. But we felt that a blog would not be the best engagement tool for our audience. We ended up creating The GCOMM Post. We knew that it was going to be a serious commitment and, at the start, particularly difficult. But we thought it would mature over time and the process would become more simple.
We view them both as discussion platforms, an informal way to publish content, a templated platform that can make it easy to create ideas and share ideas, an easy way for stakeholders to connect with the company and to provide commentary on specific topics. But one of the challenges we faced was how to differentiate between a blog and an online magazine. It always felt to us that blogs were a place where people hang out, like the dark side of the Internet, as opposed to a magazine that in contrast has a perceived value. By creating a magazine, we had to consider more thoroughly who was our target audience and what content segments we would write about.
During the initial phase, we set out some specific qualitative objectives we wanted to achieve when creating the online magazine. Some of those included:
We had a vision that this would be a content medium between our suppliers and our customers, who they wanted access to. If we are successful then they are also successful.
We wanted to create content of value. We planned to write content that is meaningful and focused enough on our stakeholders.
We wanted to create a platform for communicating the inner workings of the company and the people who are the company.
We wanted to create content that was thought leading, educational and news oriented.
We wanted to create a publishing platform that encouraged our team to express themselves openly, to be transparent and accessible by our stakeholders. We want to demonstrate a company with a face.
We wanted to create a platform that would be deep in keywords that would help in generating organic search results.
We wanted to create a platform with original content linked to the business that would easily allow us to expand upon services and provide easily referenceable links to the main website.
We wanted to create content that was easy to share through social networks.
We wanted to create a platform where our suppliers or interested parties could promote their services in the form of advertising.
We wanted to create an avenue where third parties could contribute articles or provide feedback to existing articles.
We wanted to create content whereby a newsletter could be constructed in order to create a meaningful reason for keeping in regular contact with all of our stakeholders.
By taking the time to publish content, it takes a great deal of thought and discipline. Published articles remain on the Internet and therefore it’s important to produce meaningful articles that at least attempt to provide a point of view or educate the reader to some extent. Getting the facts right is equally important.
However, the magic task of extracting feedback is indeed difficult. There are of course ways to create feedback that isn’t real, through the creation of fake profiles and accounts, but one day you just might get caught and we don’t think that is too smart. We do get our own team to make comments and responses, treating the magazine much as an internal communication tool as one for new and existing customers. Genuine feedback from customers or potential customers does come through social media posting but the response to articles directly via commenting is not as regular as we would like. We understand the concept of incentives for comment and we have a program that we developed. However, we are somewhat concerned because we don’t want to be seen to be buying feedback. Strangely, feedback from your customers is something that most companies would pay for. But that’s the dilemma. Any thoughts?♦ End