The sweet spot between media and social networks

Hypothesis: Users want a combination of mainstream news (for the water cooler) and long tail (personal) news.

Facebook and Twitter already do a pretty good job of this. They offer freshness and relevance. But they often lack coherence (unlike traditional media).

And they lack simplicity (unlike traditional media). You have to register before you can do anything. Who to follow/friend? How does it work?

IMO, there is a sweet spot between the two. For traditional media companies it means moving towards personalisation (for relevance). It means making content fresher via smarter use of content and tweets. It means maintaining simplicity. (For example, personalisation can happen transparently).

And it means having great graphic design. I mean, Facebook doesn’t compare to the designs of Jacek Utko.

Of course, traditional media also has to become more social. The Independent have a great social reader experience. I’ve yet to see media sites embed the user’s personal twitter stream on the homepage (like you can with iGoogle).

IMO, the biggest competition for news companies is social networks. It’s where people go for news. Journalists might not like to admit it but… for most people news is as much about gossip and entertainment as it is about information.

Here’s a thought experiment. This week:

  1. How many decisions did you make based on a news article? (That’s information).
  2. How many other news articles did you mention to friends? (That’s gossip/entertainment).

This post is based on my News 2.0 Lab – http://www.news20.co.uk/lab/about.html

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