Save B2B Publishing By Loving People

Putting people, not topics, at the heart of our journalism is the best way to reconnect with readers…

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

More WIN from my feeds. Ross Mayfield has been posting about the different styles of relationship between users that various web tools promote. One post had this wee gem:

Consider a 1.0 community feature, Forums. Forums are topic-centric instead of people-centric. There isn’t the notion of following people, or leveraging the social network as a filter. You have to sift through what everyone is saying regardless of who they are, which I find tremendously inefficient. This also means that if someone is truly obnoxious you can’t unsubscribe from them.

Now, forums are beginning to evolve away from those roots, by grafting social-network-esque features onto their platforms, so the role of forums is not really the point. The point is that the shift from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 was the shift from topic-focus to person-focus. That’s why blogs lead the charge – they are a transition technology, in that they’re still (usually) topic-focused, but that the person writing the blog is as important as the topic and often more so.

However, traditional B2B publishing companies are still, structurally, topic-focused. Our business is built and arranged around topic silos. But people don’t live in topic silos. They have more than one interest, area of expertise and desire to communicate. And the more we try to shove those people into our pre-designated and easy-to-sell (for now) silos, the more we’ll hasten our own demise.

We need to shift the balance from topic first, person second, to person first and topic second in every element of our publishing process. Until we do that, I don’t think we’ll every escape the trap of sprinkling a wee bit of magic community dust on fundamentally Web 1.0 offerings and wondering why we struggle.

B2Bbusiness presscommunityforumspeopleweb 2.0audience engagement

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Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.