Tuesday, February 12, 2008

When Newspapers and magazines try to become social networks

Fastcompany, the smart business and technology magazine has decided to get into social networking by offering the usual set of social tools including blogs, contact lists, bookmarks, media storage etc.

Jeremiah asks: 'Can a business publication blend journalism and online community to create something better than either by itself?'

A charge for Radical change of business focus can be made.
First and foremost, Fastcompany is in the business of reporting and analyzing.
Did the magazine took the dictat 'getting closer to your readers' a bit too seriously?

Will the target audience bite? Do they have time to blog?
Most of the Silicon Valley types already have their own blogs. In many cases, if FastCompany 'members' (gulp, what a change from 'readers'!) choose to repost from their existing blogs, it becomes an issue of duplicate content, which Google won't like.

Is it something new? No.
Tony Perkins' Always On Network is active for more than 4 years now.

Will it hurt the usability?
100% Yes. Displaying content from your reporters is top priority.

How to display User Generated content best?
SEOMOZ's YOUMOZ initiative is the best I can of at the moment. Readers can easily distinguish between content from Seomoz writers and Users.

The UI gets messed up.
Doing a brief analysis, Jeremiah writes about too much data on the home page - new tools and buttons pushing writers' content back. Or, in some cases, disorienting regular readers with a confusing new layout.

Content always comes first.

Why do you have to get into social tools development and hosting business?
Especially when many publications encourage reader groups, circle of friends on popular social networking sites including Facebook?

Are we seeing a case of social networking fatigue coinciding with the trend of brands getting into launching their own social networks?

Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook says,” We are here to serve communities, not create one."
Will users bite and join publishers' social networks?

If each publication starts doing it, logging in and out of each, considering privacy issues, will be a headache.

Think other ways if getting more news.
That article about the Tipping Point being toast was great. We need more of those.

Depending upon readers to provide free/cheap content does not seem FastCompany's style.
Think other ways of branding.

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