Our Commitment to Building Community
by Melissa LaScaleia
The Insider at the Market Common began eighteen months ago with a mission to connect and inform the greater Market Common community about who lives and works here, and what’s available that makes it so special.
According to the Post and Courier, our publishers in Charleston, our team has reached publishing benchmarks in one year that typically aren’t achieved until year five.
“I’ve lived in the Market Common since it opened in 2008,” Jim Parker says. “Consequently, I have a unique perspective of the heartbeat of this community because I’ve seen every phase of its development. I saw it needed a greater cohesion and communication between its members and the outside world in order to really thrive.”
Jim, his business partner, John Jobson, and his daughter, Megan Parker, brainstormed ideas to fill this need over the course of many months. Our free, monthly print publication, the Insider, was their response to it.
As the Insider has evolved, we continue to identify the gaps we perceive in the ways in which we act as a bridge in our community, and the ways we can fill them to make our community even stronger.
Because so much of our culture today centers on the online world and technology, meeting our community where they’re at— online— was always a part of our vision.
“The digital realm incorporates a myriad of ways for our readers to engage with us, our stories, and our advertisers, all in one place,” says Megan. “It’s a way to reach a different, broader audience.”
Online, if people are interested in learning more about what they just read, they can explore in any number of different directions with the click of a button: from further reading, to photos, to platforms by community members who went there, tried that, and have things to say about it— to being able to contribute your their thoughts.
We started online over a year ago, by posting an exact digital version of our publication in a flip-book format, called an e-edition. From there, we began the process of evaluating what a comprehensive website would look and feel like.
Our printed edition of the Insider has a monthly longevity of use because it relays current information that the people who live, work, and visit here need.
Every part of how we present our ads and content to our readership is designed to make it engaging, memorable, and real— from the full-color displays and photography, to the articles.
We sought to replicate that same effect on our website, which would incorporate the e-edition, but go beyond it.
We wanted to create an easy-to-use interface which satiates people’s desire for current happenings; to learn more; and to have information available and accessible from a wide variety of places on our website.
Behind the scenes, we’ve been preparing for this evolution for a year— ensuring our expanded offices could accommodate an in-house staff to handle web maintenance and social media content— and by bringing in top professionals to help us reach our goals.
“This is a day-in-day-out kind of project,” says Jim.
One of the professionals we engaged is Dr. Monica B. Fine, of B. Fine Consulting. She serves as chair of the marketing and hospitality department, and as associate professor of marketing for the Wall College of Business at Coastal Carolina University.
She’s been instrumental in helping to shape the landscape of our website, and guiding us in understanding how to use social media as a tool to help us drive traffic back to our website, www.marketcommoninsider.com, and thus further our goals.
Social media and the web are both, in turn, platforms to connect back to our advertisers, and from there back to us, like a boomerang, or wherever the viewer chooses to click. In this way, the general public can see the bigger scope of our website, how it connects, and its value.
In addition to the e-edition, our website contains content from all of our papers, over 100,000 words, easily catalogued and cross-referenced under relevant tabs. There’s also a magnifying glass at the top right of the website allowing you to bypass the menu bar and search for anything.
All of our future business articles will have integrated videos that show an Insider’s perspective about what’s happening in our community.
“We’ve tried to bring the best of the best to our community,” says Jim. “And we’ve approached it aggressively, with a lot of thought and preparation.”
We’ve moved Casey out of graphic design and into the role of social media marketing strategist full-time to meet our company’s new needs.
She takes the content we have and expands it, ensuring that we’re optimizing our posts to drive traffic back to our website and e-edition. She works with Monica, who advises her on website development strategy.
Megan is media director, helping to orchestrate the design and shape of the entire project. She studies the trends in the analytics and creates strategies for us to implement based on the data— whether that entails creating videos, photos or stories, and to ensure that there’s a good balance of everything.
Patrick Winum is our in-house web developer; he uploads our website content and ensures everything is running smoothly.
We built our website in a way that enables the Google search engine to find keywords in our articles and identify their relevancy to whatever somebody is searching for; which means in time, our website will be higher in the Google search results for people who are searching for things that we feature.
It also means that someone who is not aware of the Market Common but looking for a desirable place to live or vacation, can more easily discover this place through us. This type of back-end decision gives the Market Common a more prevalent place on the map; it helps support our community.
“Additionally, having an online website gives you data analytics to study and share with advertisers,” Monica says. “It’s valuable because you can see your customers’ specific actions in an online context, and track how they engaged with you, where they went on your website, what they clicked on next, and where you lost them— and use that data to make decisions about your online content that serves your reader as well as your advertisers in the best light.
“Now, we can show advertisers the number of impressions they receive, and how many times people clicked on an ad daily. It’s data that serves to build us new relationships and strengthen the ones we currently have.”
The connections that we’re making via social media will also benefit from our new relationship with the local news station, WMBF, an affiliate of NBC Networks. It’s an arrangement which will further increase our exposure as well as that of our advertisers.
The Insider will appear on a weekly, local news segment, through Where to Live Wednesdays with Properties at the Market Common; and our website will be linked through their online and mobile apps throughout the month, with over 75,000 impressions monthly.
Properties at the Market Common is also going to be featured on WMBF’s Facebook page which has 100,000 followers.
We’ll be gaining a lot of visibility with the entire Myrtle Beach community and those outside of it who participate in any way with the local news station; these media connections are further building blocks that help drive traffic to our site.
“Now that our foundation is in place,” says Megan, “we can continue to move forward with our purpose of integrating the Market Common into Myrtle Beach, of highlighting the people who serve this area, who are doing incredible things here.”
We’re still in the testing phase of our ever-evolving website, and we expect to be for some time. But our online presence is another way of building a stronger community.