And how that community responded
This post started when the Fine Cooking website, which I had visited just the day before, suddenly redirected me to Food and Wine. No landing page, no pop-up notification, and no response to the Tweets I sent to both publications. It was complete and total ghosting by a magazine I had subscribed to for nearly 20 years. It was more than just recipes; Fine Cooking taught me how to cook.
You can read that article, Fine Cooking Ghosted Me. And I Have Some Things to Say., on Medium. (And selfishly, I really hope you do. I’ve been so busy that I had forgotten the joy of writing for myself, straight from my heart.)
But there’s also a content marketing perspective I can’t ignore
And that would be…
From the whispers going around, it sounds like it was most likely an oversight (yes, really). Apparently, Taunton (the original publisher of Fine Cooking), sold the publication to Meredith (also the publisher of Allrecipes and Southern Living) — and, supposedly, nobody thought about the website.
- Maybe the employees at Fine Cooking lost their jobs so unexpectedly that nobody bothered to hand over the keys to Meredith.
- Maybe the folks at Meredith didn’t think the site was worth bothering with. Oops.
- Clearly, nobody thought about Fine Cooking’s subscribers, who were left having to start from scratch not only for tomorrow night’s dinner, but also for their menus for the upcoming holidays.
And that’s what leaves me scratching my head. How could two established publishers make that big of an oversight? Afterall, the value of community-building is well-established.
Let’s take a look at some facts that illustrate the value of a passionate, engaged community:
- When Paramount released a poster and a trailer for the live-action remake of Sonic the Hedgehog, their community quickly let them know they were less than impressed. Paramount listened, went back to the drawing board, and ended up with a product that made more than $300 million worldwide.
- And many brand communities take on a life of their own, doing some of the brand’s work for them by welcoming new members, offering tips and tricks, etc. That community connection is more important than ever now that so many people feel isolated by the restrictions imposed by the pandemic.
So when you consider both the benefits of a vibrant online community and the time and effort it takes to grow one, Fine Cooking’s ghosting of its subscribers simply makes no sense…and we’ll probably never know the truth.
Fine Cooking may have ghosted its community, but the community didn’t ghost each other
What happened next both tugged at my heart and made me so, so proud of my fellow home chefs. The Fine Cooking online community responded like the Whos on Christmas Morning after the Grinch stole all of their goodies. After an initial (and understandable) show of outrage, it only took a couple of days for them to form a new group dedicated to helping each other track down everything from recipes to how-to-articles to older issues of the magazine. And many members put hours’ worth of work into the endeavor.
What would your community do if you ghosted them?
Would your online community respond like Fine Cooking’s, moving along without you with barely a pause to catch their breath? If so, you’ve got an engaged, passionate community whose worth is invaluable.