If you want to be at the center of conversation in your field, there is only one way to go about it. Add a content publishing feature to your website.
Content publishing is different than traditional content management (CM). While CM continues to be a great tool, it is mostly designed for adding or updating reference material — for example, static pages that describe your company and its products or services.
We use the term content publishing to differentiate conversation from reference. While content management allows you to keep your information fresh, content publishing supports a two way conversation between you and your customers.
At its simplest, you publish a story, a blog entry or a post, and readers comment and provide feedback. If you want to go further, you can allow site visitors to create the story line themselves. This typically occurs in a discussion forum, which is similar to a blog in its technical implementation, but used for a different purpose. In the discussion forum, site visitors post questions, and others post answers and other responses. Often, there is a moderator, which is usually a representative of the company publishing the forum on its site.
While both content management and content publishing have their place, the potential for conversation offered by a content publishing feature is often more engaging. However, without a foundation of solid reference material, the conversation part may never occur, and you tend to achieve the best result when the two work together.
Content publishing requires a bit of technology infrastructure, and you generally don’t want to have to develop (or pay for the development) yourself. Most sites that support content publishing take advantage of open source solutions, such as WordPress or Drupal, that already include highly refined content publishing capabilities.
There are a few petty annoyances that come with content publishing. These platforms allow anyone to post entries, and that attracts spam. We recently developed a site for a heavy metal band (one of the members is also a principal in an insurance agency, and has been a client for several years), and I was seeing spam comments before the site was even made available to the public.
There are several defenses against this. One is to not allow comments to appear until they are vetted by you. Another is to require visitors posting comments to register. Of course, both of these have drawbacks. For example, if comments don’t appear until you vet them, the user doesn’t have the satisfaction of seeing them appear until later, and you have the burden of continually checking for new comments.
Another solution is to employ spam control software, such as the popular Akismet plugin from WordPress, which is free for personal sites but costs $5/mo. for commercial usage. It isn’t 100% effective, but it will make your job easier, and it will provide good enough results so that you will probably be ok letting user comments appear immediately.
For more information on content publishing, you might want to consult the following pages on our site: