Growing with communities at Future Book Forum 2019

How do publishers continue to thrive and grow in an increasingly digital and connected world?

Go to the profile of Charles Thiede
Nov 21, 2019
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How do publishers continue to thrive and grow in an increasingly digital and connected world? This was the theme of the Future Book Forum 2019 (hosted at the Canon OCE HQ in Poing) that Ben Johnson (Head of Communities and Engagement at Springer Nature) and I spoke at yesterday. 

Day 1 was dedicated to innovating platforms, of which we are one, with a focus on practical pathways for creating expert communities with high impact. Ben and I enjoyed speaking to this as we live and breathe it every day in different ways. 

You can download our presentation in full here.

As I said in the talk, social media solved a problem in 2008 - 2013 which was for everyone to have an equal voice on the Internet. That created a massive problem which is that everyone has an equal voice on the Internet. That means noise. A lot of noise.

Big, top-down communities like Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin made us more connected. Publishers and readers. Authors and editors. Readers had more power to select what they wanted from who they wanted. There was more choice, more availability of content. 

But this choice and availability came at a price. Because choice doesn’t always mean quality. Choice doesn’t always mean truth.

Quality material lost its authority, and today, the noise online has reached saturation point. Opinion and unfounded content are held equally with authoritative, expert information. So, the latter becomes lost. Today’s readers don’t know where to find authoritative content and great publishers struggle to be heard above the noise

Social media is no longer fit for purpose. What was once a fertile ground for knowledge sharing and conversation, for building relationships, has become a jungle of misinformation. Fake news, media filters, creepy targeting - the list goes on. Because of this, the public’s trust is at an all-time low. Now, only 8% of people believe that the mass of information they see on social media is actually true. 

Put simply, it is no longer a suitable means of building trusted relationships.

Amongst all this noise and chaos, the people who truly matter are right there. Waiting. Publishers already have the networks they need to build loyal audiences. The real power comes when you cultivate this community, and in doing so, create deeper opportunities for engagement.

One of our customers, Springer Nature, embodies this well. Today they have almost 30 niche, expert-led spaces for learning, connection and collaboration. They’ve developed innovative ways to use a community for reader-value. Each community has become a real selling point for the publisher. Enhancing its relationships and setting it apart. 

To understand how they’ve achieved this, and the impact it has had for Springer Nature, download our presentation here.

Go to the profile of Charles Thiede

Charles Thiede

CEO & Co-Founder, Zapnito

My background is in technology, professional services and digital media. I co-founded Zapnito due to a number of related observations from my time in these sectors: 1) the social web is creating a huge amount of noise 2) expertise that brands have built up over decades is being drowned out and hidden from those that need it 3) these brands are therefore losing their audience to often undeserving and unhelpful sources, and 4) people are finding it harder to access the expertise that they truly value. I therefore decided to create Zapnito, a white-label platform to help trusted brands reclaim their audiences via expert-driven knowledge networks.

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