Time Inc.’s Kimberly Miller on Web 2.0 for Publishers
TM: How are you seeing companies delve into participation with Web 2.0?
KM: Not all companies are there yet. However, it is even easier for companies to start. Before considering a blog, companies can launch, for example, a forum where consumers can write questions to editors, and the editors can write back. For example, on Real Simple’s forum, readers can ask questions such as, “How do I get that Oscars look?” and the editors can write back explaining, “Here are the products you can buy to get that look.” So there is not a lot of loss of control over content or brand image.
Blogs are an important part of Web 2.0—a lot of consumers like to be voyeurs, to read about other people’s lives and experiences through reading blogs—which are very viral. When working to leverage Web 2.0, you want those bloggers picking up your store’s blog and linking to you. Because that blogger has picked up a link to something you published, now all of a sudden you have new, unique visitors that are exposed to your content.
Another thing that is very easy for companies to do is create tools for consumers to personalize your Web content. For example, on RealSimple.com, we have recipe organizers. So when you come to the site, your personal Web box pops up, and you can sort through the recipes you like or add new ones to share. Consumers don’t want us to tell them what to do; they want us to give them the tools to allow personalization.
TM: With online forums, where is the line between the perceived “losing control” over the range of online comments regarding your brand and effectively managing negative customer comments?
KM: I think that is something everyone that puts content out, from a company perspective, is coming to grips with. In this day and age you have to be transparent. You have to let consumers say what they want to say. Otherwise it is not an authentic experience, and they will feel you are not putting the real foot forward. You have to allow those possibly negative comments to be posted, but, on the other hand, you have to be able to filter comments that are not what the site stands for. Most comments are fair game for users to put out there, and our editors are really embracing that because they want the consumer to have really true, transparent experiences.