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Social media helps power Elsevier Public Safety's relaunched websites

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San Diego-based Elsevier Public Safety recently revamped two of its three primary b-to-b websites. JEMS.com, the website for the Journal of Emergency Medical Services, was relaunched in mid-May; LawOfficer.com, the online companion of Law Officer Magazine, relaunched in June.

Elsevier Public Safety worked with Go Forward Media, based in Columbia, Md., to overhaul the sites.

Tim Francis, director of e-products at Elsevier Public Safety, said the Tridian content management system the sites had been using was difficult for the editors to employ and time-consuming. Additionally, it didn't provide the flexibility to add new features easily.

“Posting content is now a quick and painless process,” Francis said. The new Drupal-based CMS “allows us to do a lot more daily news coverage and integrate multimedia,” he added. “The connectivity between our content and the external social networks [of Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter] also bumps up our game.”

GFM customized Drupal's OpenPublish open source platform as the CMS for both JEMS.com and LawOfficer.com. The Web strategy and development company also integrated into the sites social media tools like dedicated social networks using the Ning platform and blogging capabilities based on WordPress. Widgets—portable, prewritten code modules—were added to the user-facing sections of the sites to instantly link users to Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Dave Iannone, president and founder of GFM, said only 10% to 15% of the traffic to his b-to-b media clients' websites arrives on their home pages. The majority comes directly to specific articles and multimedia content via e-mail newsletters or search engines.

Additionally, an increasing amount of traffic is coming from Facebook links, Iannone said. He said Facebook is by far the most popular social site for the public safety community. Collectively, JEMS, Law Officer and sibling site FireFighterNation.com now have more than 170,000 Facebook fans.

“With people coming to each site and to multiple parts of the site from so many directions, the objective is to get some percent of those people to do something else,” Iannone said. “That might be to sign up for an e-newsletter or webcast. It might be to read one more article or watch a video and spend more time on the site. It might be to check out job listings, which these sites didn't have previously.”

As a consultancy working with a portfolio of b-to-b websites from multiple companies, GFM has invested in customizing CMS platforms for magazine publishers that are designed for quick implementation. “OpenPublish is a great base platform that helps [media companies] get up to speed very quickly,” Iannone said. “We've just taken it to the next level of customization. We go beyond the back-end system to optimize the [user experience] so that every page is essentially a mini-landing page.”

While having more opt-in names for e-mail newsletters and webinars, as well as more site visitors and page views, is designed to spur advertising on the public safety sites, GFM is also selling advertising on a network of independent blogs.

“FireEMSBlogs.com, a platform we built with Elsevier last year, brings about 25 of the top firefighting and EMS bloggers under one roof,” Iannone said. “Those bloggers are generating tons of great content every day and hundreds of thousands of page views each month.”

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