April 20, 2022 • History Factory
There is no better time than an anniversary or milestone to celebrate and talk about your company’s history. But if you’re relying on a printed history book to convey all the ups and downs of those years—the struggles and triumphs, the setbacks and pictures of progress—are you getting the most out of your investment?
We love a printed publication as much as anyone else. But the truth is, history books aren’t the only—or always the best—option for reflecting on your organization’s past or garnering engagement with stakeholders.
A microsite, website, webpage or landing page: Though it may be known by several names, what we mean when we say “company history website” is an online experience dedicated to your organization’s history that is more than just a simple timeline. It may be a standalone website or a page (or cluster of pages) embedded on your website or housed somewhere entirely different. It’s an effective and efficient tool for storytelling, recruitment, retention, cost savings and more. Truly, there are more advantages than you can throw a history book at.
No one can deny the pull of a good coffee table book with a textured cover, sleek pages and sharp imagery. But getting that book into your readers’ hands might not be as simple, cheap or even reasonable these days as it once was.
First, there’s the supply chain to contend with. You have to consider not only the cost and availability of paper, but potentially unpredictable turnaround times for printing, assembling, and delivering your finished product. And that’s to say nothing of the cost and logistics of getting the finished product out to everyone who’s not working in the office anymore. Thanks to remote work, if you want to send everyone home with a copy of the book, you might have to figure out how to send it to their homes—perhaps across the globe. Ouch.
Once you discover the ways in which a business history website can enhance your company’s anniversary or milestone celebration, you’ll wonder why you never thought about it before.
There’s a reason print newspapers have taken a huge hit in the last 15 years. As digital media has taken hold, storytelling has evolved. Videos, graphics, imagery, data visualization—we’ve come to expect many of these compelling elements. Shouldn’t your company’s stories get the same treatment?
Southwest Airlines knew this when it recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. While Southwest didn’t ditch print publications altogether (which we’ll cover in a minute), it did produce a company history website, Southwest50.
The site is chock-full of engaging, informative and entertaining stories, pictures and more. In choosing to go digital and launching the site, Southwest was able to stretch the limits of what its storytelling could do. And a few years later, the site is still there to entertain, delight and educate employees, investors and loyal customers.
Whether you’re facing The Great Resignation or just want to keep morale high , there’s nothing like a series of feel-good stories about your company and its people to build camaraderie and earn trust, engagement and interest.
A corporate history website is a great way to share stories that reflect your company’s unique culture and its day-to-day operations, or to tout its long history of being somewhere employees are valued, have fun and make a difference.
Additionally, your company’s history website can serve as a two-way street to encourage engagement. People can comment and contribute their own stories to further enhance your company’s authentic storytelling.
As we’ve said, we love a good print publication. But a book isn’t the easiest format to update or expand. With a history website, you don’t have to worry about cramming all your stories into one place. You can consistently publish new and fresh stories, videos and photo galleries.
A regularly updated carousel of cutting-edge content doesn’t just keep the celebration going—it continues to spark new interest and engagement. It gives people something to come back to, always make new discoveries and find valuable takeaways.
If you’re an international company, you likely have stakeholders whose primary language isn’t English. If you only print one history book and it’s in English, guess what? You’re missing out on capturing a bigger audience. You can make your website multilingual and reach more people in the process.
Not only can you appeal to your non-Anglophone contingent, but just by virtue of it being a website, your history website will meet more people where they spend much of their time: on their phones.
Traffic sources. Top viewed pages. Bounce rate. Conversion rate. These are all analytics you can track with a history website or webpage.
See how people are engaging with your content. What’s performing well? What didn’t hit the mark? What are people sharing? You can track it all and leverage the resulting data to get the biggest bang for your storytelling buck.
There’s a time and a place for all historic publications. You just have to be strategic about what that looks like for your company. Is your CEO of decades passing the baton? Maybe her story is worthy of its own book. Is your company’s next milestone so big and your customer base so loyal that you can’t not put out a keepsake book? Go for it.
There are some situations in which it makes sense to produce a physical publication—just not all of them. You have to think about the strategic objective behind the story you want to tell and whether or not the cost is worth it.
Whether you choose to physically commemorate your milestone in print or not, you should plan to have a website or webpage. Whether it supplements your history book or takes its place, your landing page will prove that your proverbial feet are firmly planted in the 21st century, where digital rules supreme.
As you inch toward your next corporate milestone, take a look at your past commemorative publications—then envision everything your digital one could be.
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