In addition to last week's article about Profiting from Google Plus, here’s another post courtesy of Murray Newlands!
Many online publishers still follow the same format: They post content and people read it, and then moderate comments they receive. However, these days a lot of the conversation is taking place on social media, but publishers have little to no control over what direction the conversation is going.
In this week's Future of Engagement, Murray Newlands interviews Chris Saad, the Co-Founder and Strategy VP of Echo. Saad talks about how following this format in the age of social networking can make publishers lose touch with their readership:
- People use social media to have conversations about publishers and their content
- Social media conversations are hard to publishers to lead into positive and productive communication
- But publishers can recapture the conversation by drawing people to their site
Building positive conversations
The term “poisoned well syndrome” is frequently used by forum owners to describe a general cynicysm felt by the community. What happens is that the users/readers become disenchanted with the topic the forum is about. So, it usually happens to forums about a specific product instead of one about a type of products, so it might be more likely to happen to a forum about a particular game than happen to a forum about videogames in general. A recent example is what happened to Eve Online. Eve is a videogame but this can apply to a publisher's readership as well.
Eve Online: A case study
For most of its history, Eve was an open-ended sandbox MMO. There were very few rules governing interactions between players. The game was geared toward conflict between players and groups of players, not conflict between players and computer-generated non-player characters (NPC's). It was a very niche product aimed at hardcore MMO gamers, especially ones who like science fiction. However, CCP decided to change the focus from a game based around conflict between players and groups of players to one based around working together to defeat NPC's. CCP tried to make a niche product appeal to a wider audience.
The result was disastrous. Subscription rates plummeted. Famous players publicly unsubscribed and some even deleted their characters permanently. But the main place to talk about Eve Online on the Internet is the Eve forums, which CCP owns. So how did this happen?
Eve Online: Poisoned well
Plus, they simply did not respond to the needs of their players. Instead of running a PR campaign they fired their marketing team. Instead of developing the game based on the response of the community and based on standard marketing practices (like not converting a niche product into a product with wide appeal), they went ahead and tried to make their game appeal to everyone. In addition to poorly redesigning their product, CCP failed to develop positive and constructive conversations about the future of the game.
What can publishers learn from this?
Publishers such as bloggers can make sure that they always stay in touch with their readership. You don't always have to give into what they want (many readers would love it if you had less ads, but then you'd also make less money!) but you can still listen to them to guide a better conversation that's more productive for you as a publisher.
Future of Publishing is sponsored by VigLink.
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