The Power of Community & Readers: A Lesson From Cook’s Source and Dairy Goat Journal

November 18th, 2010 by

By now you’ve probably heard of the social media snafu by Cook’s Source Magazine that resulted in an internet backlash against the publication for stealing content from a LiveJournal blogger and publishing it in their magazine without her permission. However Cook’s Source wasn’t the only publication to be outed for ripping off a blogger this month.  Chickens in the Road blogger Suzanne McMinn fell victim to lazy publishers this month when an image she snapped for a 2008 blog post was used in the November/December 2010 issue of Dairy Goat Journal without her permission.

After initially being hung up on by the publisher of Dairy Goat Journal, Suzanne wrote an open letter to the magazine publisher.  The next day she received a call from the publisher offering limited compensation, but then received another call offering $2100 in compensation after reading her blog posts and comments from her readers.  Suzanne later posted that the check arrived with a hand written note and cleared.  Unlike the outcome of the Cook’s Source fiasco, Suzanne was fortunate enough to come out on top and received compensation for her work.  But at the end of the day, neither of these stories would have the same outcome if it weren’t for the support of online communities and blog readers.

In each of these situations a single woman was standing against a large publisher, the first with upwards of 2,800 readers and the latter a five million dollar company.  Alone, their complaints probably would have fallen on deaf ears, or required legal action, but with the support of their community one company was humiliated publicly on the internet, creating a PR nightmare and the other recognized and accepted responsibility for their wrong doing.

In both instances these bloggers had built a community of readers online that not only enjoyed their work, but stood behind it when someone stole it.  Would your readers come to your rescue if you were in that situation, or would they simply look the other way?

As we reach the one week mark before Thanksgiving here in the states I encourage you to thank your blog readers and social media followers.  Like any relationship its important to nourish the bond you have between you and your community and recognize that they are the ones helping drive your business.  Without them who would be sharing your content, linking to your blog posts, or Like-ing you on Facebook?

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