In our digital world, many people get the latest headlines and news from social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Take for instance, 10 March 2011, on the morning of the tragic earthquake in Japan, many people heard the tragic news from their friends on Facebook or via Twitter. So thanks to social networks, online newspapers are losing business fast.
It makes sense for newspapers to link up with Facebook and create a reading experience that is designed for social networks to keep up with their popularity. The first newspaper to attempt such a move is the Washington Post, by launching the Social Reader. This application was built on Facebook’s new Open Graph. Chairman and CEO of the Washington Post Donald Graham says, “If you know that several of your friends have read a story, you’ll be more interested in it.”
The front page of the application will contain condensed blurbs of news stories and the featured image for each article, almost like the Facebook news feed, but instead of stories about a friend and their picture, it will be news headlines. After reading the story, the activity will be shared to friends and subscribers. If anything, using this Facebook app will make the social network more interesting. Like many other people I am not interested in knowing what someone ate for breakfast or other trivial stories.
This means that Facebook will have an important responsibility to keep us informed about the world, making it more than a social network. It is also obvious that other newspapers will be sure to follow suit and create ways to exist on social media networks. For brands to survive and thrive, it is vital to link up with social networks, and now that Washington Post has broken this ground, everyone else will be sure to follow. Social Reader is a brilliant move for the newspaper but it will be limited by people’s tendencies.
Most people are accustomed to effortlessly stumbling on headlines on sites like Twitter, and don’t often have to go out of their way to look for news, but maybe the app will get traffic from the Washington Post’s loyal readers. Social Reader seems to stress the importance of discovering news through peers, but this could also be a limitation because one might have totally different news interests from the friends. After regular usage the app will also figure out your preferences, and suggest stories to read. This function seems more effective to me than suggesting what your friends read. Peer tendencies may be important in social media, but personal preferences are paramount. This move by the Washington Post, is quite predictable but it points to the bigger picture. We are living in world where social networks and media is a dominant and powerful force and it will continue to have influence on the activities of big brands, companies as well as people.