Friday, August 17, 2007

Web 2.0 tools can only take you so far

Traditional news sites have taken to using Web 2.0 tools, including blogs, forums, user photos & videos and others in a big way, hoping that this will attract some of the user base that was graduating to Digg, Flickr,, Techcrunch…among other Web 2.0 heavyweights.

Michael Arrington writes in Techcrunch that USA Today, which took to a web 2.0 lifestyle in a big way, undergoing a design overhaul to boot, is not getting the returns it expected voting and commenting to bring in.

One reason may be that people are not getting that unique ‘Community Feel’.

Digg for example, despite all its obvious faults, has a community rooting for it, a community that submits stories, votes on them, comments on them – there is a sense of belonging.

On News sites such as USA Today, and a lot many other news sites that have bought off-the-shelf Web 2.0 tools, integrating them with their existing story flow, the feeling of community is perhaps not there.

The popular and successful method to build a community is to focus on a niche.

What is USA Today’s niche?

Piling on web 2.0 tools can only take you so far. If news sites do not want to be seen as lame copycats, they might start with building community silos around their popular columnists, columns.

They might also consider starting new communities around evocative themes plucked from the Zeitgeist – say, a user-generated section on how to survive the housing bubble.

Giving a sense ownership of content to the reader builds new media brands.
There is no fun in USA Today journalists selecting and writing everything and asking everyone else to comment and vote.

As a commenter on Techcrunch puts it,
My comments on USA Today are meaningless. They add nothing, are seen by very few people, and don’t produce any movement in the earth’s gravitational shift. People want to participate because it makes a difference. If that is not the case, well then who really cares. It’s a novelty that soon wears off.
I think it was Doc Holliday who said,
"My hypocrisy will only take me so far."

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