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Social Networking Done Right

fannation.jpg If you read this recent post, you got an idea about my feelings for social networking as it’s currently constituted. But I don’t want to be a negative nellie forever. Social networking is, after all, truly in its infancy– it’s not always going to be comprised of sites that feature over-exposed teenagers and crappy bands. Social networking has to grow up, and we are seeing glimpses of what could be for everyone, and that includes the MB community.
I came across this report in Mediaweek the other day, which reported that Time, Inc. was going to be rolling out social networking tools on some if its magazine’s websites. That decision was probably made easier by what happened with one of Time’s major entities, Sports Illustrated and si.com, which purchased a social networking site earlier this year called FanNation.com, and proceeded to see a spike of 4 million unique visitors. Unlike the creepiness that often lurks around some SN sites, FanNation.com has two elements that make it immediately appealing: sports and arguing. The site features sports-themed user blogs and topical discussions, dubbed “throwdowns” where two users argue such important issues as like the 100 pitch count in baseball, while votes are cast by other community members to see who is making the more logical case. The format is fun and so brilliantly simple it’s almost criminal, and it’s something that could easily be translated to mediabistro.com.
We want to bring social networking tools to MB, but in a useful and responsible way. There’s a couple ways we can do this– we can build our own stuff in-house, or we can go the Time/SI route and acquire a social networking site. Whatever we decide to do, there will be some adaptation needed from the current social networking landscape. The goal of most social networking sites is to attract young audiences. LinkedIn has been called MySpace for adults, and it’s useful, but by no means trailblazing. While we’re all aware that the children are our future, the MB community has a wide audience of varying age levels. We don’t want to go all soda pop and bubblegum on our loyal base with our SN offerings. FanNation.com however stands as an example of how we can take social networking beyond an arena for hooking up, and instead making it one for hooking media people into new ways of collaborating in their fields and with each other.

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