How to start a successful blog based on online phenomenon The Next Web

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The Next Web is a blog focusing on the world of technology

Founded in 2008 by Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten. In just a short amount of time, The Next Web became one of the most popular blogs on the Internet. Even on Social Media platforms their shine didn’t went unnoticed. Currently they are having more than 1.11+ million followers on Twitter and more than 358 thousand likes on Facebook. They’re on top of their game when it comes down to blogging. Besides all that, they are organising conferences and invite professional speakers like King Willem Alexander of the Netherlands.

How did they become so big? How do they manage to keep their loyal followers (community) and keep on growing?

Or in short:

How did The Next Web successfully managed to grow into a global online phenomenon, with millions of followers?

 

1. Development and structure within your organisation

The Next Web, the “brand”, consists of different “products”. Each of them contributes to the financial part and gaining readers. The blog is the most famous product, next to the events they are organising and Shift Magazine (an online journal). Different people in the management and editorial team govern these products.

The organization of The Next Web is different from other organizations. This also reflected in how the editing department is set up and how it is managed. Mostly everything takes off online. Everyone in the team takes care of different kinds of posts. Some editors even manage freelancers to make a guest post.

What is also remarkable, and which immediately gives me an answer to my question how new articles appear regularly and attract new and old readers, is that most people from the editorial department of the blog itself are living anywhere in the world. This means that anyone who is able to contribute to the blog can get online at a different time and post an article. This ensures that there is continuous reading: loyal readers come back and new readers get excited to continue to follow the blog.

2. Mission: keeping your content unique

Like any other organisation, a blog needs to have a mission. Something to strive for and to keep the staff team focused and motivated.

“The Next Web never started out with a strategy or mission. The team just enjoys what it does. But it does like to see TNW as a guide for everything that’s happening on the web. Not for the beaten track but for the unknown jungle” (Wovox, 2014).
From this statement you can tell that The Next Web wants to be the guide to everything that happens on the Internet that is still relatively unknown. This radiates The Next Web by posting unique content on their blog. Readers often compliment The Next Web for their fast unique content. Werner Vogels, CTO of Amazon wrote: “What sets The Next Web apart is a focus on the internet as a key driver for a global market. The international view is unique, making their blog a must read “(The Next Web, 2014).

3. Stick to the needs of your readers

If you look at the products, services, amount of readers, internal organization, external contacts The Next Web distinguish themselves. These are all core competencies that are held by the entire staff. The Next Web continuously sticks to the needs of their readers and put those needs on top priority. An example of that is organizing conferences and inviting professional speakers like King Willem Alexander and Bas Beerens, CEO of Wetransfer to keep inspiring their readers. In addition to that by making a magazine that focuses on the digital generation: Shift Magazine. Last but not least they are also working with organizations like Wetransfer on a product called Boost that focuses on new start-ups.

The Next Web knows what’s hot and what’s not. The environment responds by reading the articles and shares them through social media such as Twitter and Facebook. The Next Web wants to be the first in writing the hottest topics. By doing so they are gaining readers. Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten says in an interview that if an article is published on another blog that looks like what they want to put online, they remove their own article. Instead, they try to arrange an interview as soon as possible (Blom, E., 2012). This is a clear example of how they respond to the needs of the market and their environment.

The readers have an uncontrollable desire to keep an eye on The Next Web. They feel they are up to date to be held by The Next Web. Otherwise, they miss what is going on in the digital world.

This hunger of the readers feeds the growth of The Next Web.

The marketing activities that The Next Web performs emphasize the quality. This is what The Next Web strives for. They do this by being available online and to continuously offer people to read articles for free (yes, at some blogs you need to pay to be able to read the articles). These articles are posted on a nice looking site that is also suitable for other devices like the iPad and mobile. Nowadays a blog needs to be responsive so that it adapts to different screens. Making it possible to read the blog wherever and whenever. In addition, as said before, they promote themselves in an excellent way by inviting speakers from well-known companies to speak at their conferences.

4. Team work

The team at The Next Web communicates closely and have a strong bound. They communicate often and are full of passion. They are striving towards one common goal: To let The Next Web be a guide to everything that happens on the Internet that is still unknown and to make top notch quality articles about that. In addition, they work together on what could be improved. Because the staff knows where they should focus (target), what could be better (problems) and where they can support each other so that the team runs successfully and delivers success which could be respond in the number of visitors.

There is a good team spirit which motivates one another:

“The added value of a team is clearly visible in the sport but also in projects, especially when the activities can be translated into clearly recognizable terms. The added value that can be realized by people with a clear mission and a clear time frame to put together works apparently very contagious. “(Ytsma et al., 2010, p. 109).
In addition, they maintain mutual close contact by giving each other feedback to be aware who is doing what and guide interchangeably. This came up in the interview what Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten has given (Blom, E., 2012).

Communication is and always will be a very important key factor in how a blog is functioning that can lead to either a break down or success.

Conclusion

Let’s look back to the question at the beginning of this article:

How did The Next Web successfully managed to grow into a global online phenomenon, with millions of followers?

First, The Next Web works worldwide and they are not restricted to the Netherlands. They make their products visible to everyone, anywhere in the world. They ensure that the articles they posted online are unique and value a high quality standard that continuously feeds the hunger of loyal readers and new readers. The founders, management and editorial work closely together and keep each other informed. By doing so they are creating a unique bond and team spirit. This is also reflected in the quality of the blog and provides an added value: the editors are motivated to continue to participate in The Next Web.

They have a mission and a common goal and are working with a huge amount of passion.

The Next Web works with several organizations, such as Wetransfer to gain extra visibility and thus promotion. They make extensive use of Social Media as one of their promotional activities and finally, what I found most interesting: They have more than one product to contribute to The Next Web. By doing so they can reach a larger market: readers (who are interested in the blog) subscribers (of the magazine) and participants (who go to conferences).

All this contributes to the success and continuous growth of the blog The Next Web.

 

Sources:

Blom, E. (2012). Interview Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten door Fast Moving Targets. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Pn4qbqz0Mg

Bryant, M. (2013). Shift magazine. http://thenextweb.com/shift/

Cirpici, J.D. (2011). OtherFocus. http://www.otherfocus.com

Nieuwenhuis, M.A. (2003 – 2010). The Art of Management. http://123management.nl/0/051_informatie/a510-informatie-13-informatieperspectief-web-2-0-blogs-weblogs.html

Techmeme. (2014). http://www.techmeme.com/lb

The Next Web. (2014). http://thenextweb.com/

Wovox. (2014). The Next Web at Wovox. http://wovox.com/workplace/the-next-web/amsterdam/headquarters/details

Ytsma, W., Hellings, B., & Peter, G. (2010). Basisboek Werken in een organisatie. Baarn/Utrecht/Zutphen, Thieme Meulenhoff. ISBN: 9789006978087

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