About a year ago Coca Cola converted their website. They refashioned a traditional looking corporate template into a publishing platform.
Gone are the links to About Us, Products, Solutions, Contact Us, Blog, and a Search Box.
Now the Coca Cola website looks like an entertainment magazine. The writers and editors publish light and entertaining stories. The stories send an uplifting, positive message. They are written about other people and their accomplishments.
As Coca Cola says, “content is social at the core, digital by design, and emotional.”
Visually the website is organized like a newspaper — Front Page, Stories, Opinion, Food, Music and Sports. Of course, the stories are all written on Coke-related topics — Coke and sports ambassadors, Coke and the environment, the startup scene in Coke’s hometown of Atlanta.
In an article about the new Coca Cola site at GeekWire, Michele Mehl makes this observation:
But they have accomplished something big, and that is successfully turning their corporate Web site into something that looks more like an online news channel and less like a company Web site. Whether you want to make this shift yourselves, there’s a significance taking place here that’s worth noting. They have given their brands an amazing opportunity to use their Web site to turn readers into fans and customers simply by sharing their point of view.
Why does it work for Coke?
The stories on the Coca Cola site appeal to a way of life, a sense of group identity where people bring out the best in each other.
The stories on the site don’t directly describe the attributes of Coke’s beverage products. They simply imply that with Coke you can aspire to the way of life that’s told in the stories.
What are the results at Coca Cola?
Let’s answer that question with some numbers. Soon after launching food and music channels and giving a new look to their blog, the site doubled its pages views and increased visits to their blog by 1,247%.
They are seeing more engagement as people vote for the stories they like and share them in social media.
Should your software company website become a publishing platform?
If you simply need to inform your website visitors about your company and its products, then you have no need to become a publisher.
On the other hand, if your business software companies needs to:
- Educate potential buyers about the problem they face. You know, the one that you know how to solve.
- Build trust in your company.
- Develop a community and sense of identity among the people who share the same problem, that one you know how to solve.
If you meet these criteria then you need a mechanism for people in your community to stay in touch with you. To stay in touch, you have to communicate with them in frequent, small doses. Your communication needs to create value for them – education and the positive feeling that their problem is solvable and that they are not alone.
Invest in publishing
Publishing is a low cost investment to educate, build trust, and create a community.
In fact, software companies have even more motivation to build a loyal community of readers and followers than Coca Cola.
Why is that?
Let’s face it, readers of the Coca Cola magazine have a modest motivation. They simply want to be momentarily distracted by fun and entertaining stories, just like when they read any other entertainment magazine. Their readers already know about Coca Cola and what it offers. They know Coke is an icon in our culture.
Your readers, on the other hand, have a real problem to solve. What’s more, they don’t know much about you and your history.
If Coca Cola can accomplish dramatic results with a light-hearted entertainment publishing platform, just imagine what you could do.