The changing role of publishing

How do you see your website? Is it a broadcast tool or a way of engaging with your community?

Too many website owners treat their website as a broadcast tool. To do this is to miss out on the fundamental power of the web.

As Mary Brown recently wrote over at

We can no longer think of publishing as a broadcast medium. It isn’t, not anymore. The web requires that we listen and converse as much as (if not more than) we ship.

Whether we are posting to our website, Facebook, Twitter or indeed anywhere else online we need to engage as much as we broadcast.

Our online strategy should be about building deep and genuine relationships with our users. It should also be about bringing those users together in communities.

Doing so brings numerous advantages as I have written about as far back as 2004 and 2008.

That said, building community is not easy. As Mandy goes on to write:

Of course, supporting a community is hard work, and it isn’t cheap. It’s expensive not only in time, but in spirit: you have to care about your readers.

This is something I have echoed in my own post “The 7 Harsh Truths About Running Online Communities.

However, listening to users and responding to their needs has ceased to be an optional activity. If we want to stay ahead of our competition we need to do more than build a usable and engaging website. We need to build a website that nurtures community.

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  • This is what I think: A blog (which is also a website) should not be about engaging the readers, it should purely be about writing superb content. Because usually, when we like a blog, we don’t really go to the blog-website again-and-again, instead, we subscribe to its feeds and we keep the subscription as long as the content it delivers is interesting.

    Therefore, in this case, engaging isn’t really the key thing.