Social media remains a priority for most publishers but in the wake of failures of proprietary, standalone social media networks such as Variety’s “The Biz,” publishers are realizing that rather than creating community at their own sites, they need to be catching readers where they already are: Facebook and Twitter.
Playboy started out building its own networking products on platforms like Ning, but now finds Facebook more cost efficient. “We’re putting more resources there and getting more response,” says director of online communities and social platforms Paul Thomas.
The same is true for b-to-b publishers such as Bobit Business Media, which publishes Police. “Our editors didn’t think having a Facebook page would be worth it, but we did a search and found 600,000 users with ‘law enforcement’ in their profile,” says director of marketing and e-media Christine Oldenbrook. “We set up a fan page and had 100 fans overnight. Our editors will use it to push content while we market subscriptions through it.”
Most any content management system—enterprise or open source—is capable of basic social media functions such as commenting. But now publishers are looking for social media apps that offer a direct connection between their site and the broader social networks such as Facebook. “Two years ago, CMS was 80 percent of the focus, now maybe it’s 40 percent for a publisher,” says Dave Iannone, founder of Web development firm Go Forward Media (and architect of the FOLIOMag.com design).
Many of the social networks are introducing both generic and system-specific applications to tie the CMS to their network. However, most of those applications are geared more toward open source rather than proprietary systems. Facebook Connect is an API that allows users to integrate parts of the Facebook experience into their Web site or mobile program. System-specific versions of Facebook Connect are also popping up, such as modules for open source systems like Drupal and WordPress.
An article on social media blog Mashable talks about “8 of the Best Social Media Extensions for Joomla,” including the AddThis Button, which is a single method of adding major social media bookmarking and sharing applications such as Digg, Twitter and Facebook.
Single Point of Entry
Instant access through a single point of entry is becoming key. FastCompaany.com now allows users to sign into the Web site via the user’s Facebook account. “There are plug-ins that if you comment in one area, it let’s people know you commented everywhere else you have an account,” says Iannone. “That does away with the need for a ‘site account.’ You have to integrate in all these other places beyond what you are doing on your own site. You’re going to get more fans on Facebook and you’ll have a direct connection that’s way more valuable than e-mail.”
ABA Journal, the association magazine for the American Bar Association, recently launched a program called Legal Rebels that features a standalone Web site with multi-media profiles of 50 legal profession innovators, as well as its own dedicated Facebook page for the program [see the full story on page 24]. However, the dedicated site also has links to major social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr embedded right into its CMS (Expression Engine). “It just involved signing up for each of the services (Facebook, YouTube, etc.) and adding a link on our site,” says editor and publisher Edward Adams.
To keep up, some of the enterprise social media platforms such as KickApps and Ning are starting to introduce sign-on modules that can be used with sites powered by open source CMS such as Joomla, Drupal and WordPress.