The AP is now changing the game for news by not only going where attention spirals are taking us but by also using their content to curate a conversation on Facebook and – above all – build relationships.
Build your own website, or not?
I thought this was a fascinating thought – that a media entity’s existence on the web might best be not one all-encompassing destination site but rather a scattered collection of articles, posts, tweets and comments all linked together from a hub such as Facebook.
Now I am not a big Facebook user myself for one reason or another (I prefer LinkedIn). But I was intrigued enough to suggest in a news team meeting this week on one of my current editorial projects that we consider using a Facebook fan page instead of going the typical route of building our own microsite.
The reaction, from a decidedly youngish journalistic set, was almost equally as fascinating.
One person said it would not seem as professional. Another said it did not make sense putting the content we own and control on a site we don’t, that it would be like building a house on someone else’s property.
I pointed out people do that all the time. Hotels in big cities, for example, often build on a choice location that the landowners will only lease to them, perhaps that the hotel could never afford to buy outright anyway. The hotels do it because, if there are 5 million people living right around that particular location, it is more successful to site the hotel there than out somewhere that the people are not. Similarly, if there are 400 million users already gathered on Facebook, it might make sense to figure out how to locate our content hub there. One of the articles linked off this Steven Rubel piece mentions that car-maker Honda now uses a Facebook fan page as the URL it displays in its TV commercials. So although this approach might be less than a trend yet, it is more than an experiment.
My team went round and round on the idea a bit more before concluding the best approach would be to use as our hub a Tumblr socially networked blog that would automatically interlink with our project’s Facebook and Twitter activities but give us more design and branding options than Facebook.
It’s not exactly the same thing. I mean, hey guys, there are 400 million people in Facebook’s hotel and we could set up shop right in the middle of them all but instead we’ll take a room next door? Well, at least it is a step in a more innovative direction.