Mixx.com has been acquired by UberMedia. The new Mixx.com launches sometime this month according to the Mixx blog. Apparently, the social news voting element of the site will be retired.

On the surface, this appears to be a nice endgame for Chris McGill who created Mixx in response to the soap opera-like community vs. site politics that Digg.com experience in the 2007-2008 timeframe. Grow up, do something well, build an audience and get acquired. But if you look a little closer, what happens with Mixx and its niche, but vibrant social news community, might just teach us a thing or two about how communities work and that they often have lives of their own.

Image representing Mixx as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

My friends Jay Fowler and Greg Davies (SilentJay74 and cGt2099 in social news avatar world) are turning their blog and podcast site, MixxingBowl.com, into a Mixx replacement, citing the core Mixx community’s frustration with the voting feature being removed. I also get a sense there’s an undertow of fear that new ownership will commercialize the site they so love. Under-the-radar communications are flowing around to encourage current Mixx users to move over to MixxingBowl and I’d be willing to bet a set of the Mixx community will make the transition.

UberMedia may or may not do anything to prevent the migration, but in reality all they can do is hope that Jay and Greg represent a small portion of community purists and nutters put off by the sale and the majority of Mixx-ers will stay.

My friend Brian Wallace, a Mixxer and social news expert, plus founder of NowSourcing, a social media marketing firm here in Louisville, had some interesting perspectives on the Mixxingbowl development:

“Mixxingbowl probably won’t bring all Mixx users along for the ride. That would be a really tall order,” he said. “Mixx.com has been as high as an Alexa 500 site, and Mixxingbowl staff is going to run this is a side project not for profit. They simply don’t (yet) have the resources to have that kind of bandwith – and that’s ok.”

Wallace pointed out (accurately) that most Mixx users don’t see the site as a “community” per say, but as a content vending machine where they get their news. This distinction — seeing the site through the eyes of a social media type, then also through the (very different) eyes of the mainstream public — is the perspective you should look for in a smart digital marketer. Wallace is one.

Regardless of the outcome, the potential story here is an important component to community building and managing we should all take a look at.

The community is dependent upon the community, not the brand, for its lifeline.

We’ve seen this before. Mixx.com is a perfect example in and of itself. Mixx evolved out of the need for banned Digg users to have a safer place to play, market, game or whatever the hell it is they do. McGill tapped into the need and Mixx quickly became a social news player. The community there migrated from Digg, though many of the non-banned set maintained dual memberships. Still, Mixx went from nothing to legitimate social news destination in a matter of months thanks to the community going with the community.

I’ve been associated with a project recently that a corporate entity has tried to sink its teeth into and alter a bit. I’ve fought it furiously because, in my opinion, it alters the way the public perceives, and will continue to be involved with, the project.

If your brand is building or has built a community, formal or informal, online, please understand that your company, product or service has very little to do with why the community is successful. Changing their environment or level of expectation to better suit you or your product may just be the death of the community itself.

“The worst thing they can do is nothing,” Wallace advised of brands making a switch in their own community platforms or strategies. “I’ve seen so many ghost town social media campaign starts, it’s painful. Just be up front with your audience and tell them what’s up. You will see lots of social media sites go out of their way to explain every little downtime on and on in their blogs and social accounts – they are smart, and that’s not even a change of direction, just a hiccup in otherwise great progress. Luckily the Internet is no longer if you build it they will come, but rather if you don’t build it, someone else will. Companies must be congnizant that if they don’t act and maintain a direction, their community may rebel or outright leave.”

Will Mixx die out as a result? Probably not. But it might.

Your thoughts? The comments are yours.

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About Jason Falls

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is the founder and chief instigator for Social Media Explorer's blog. He is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for CafePress, one of the world's largest online retailers. His opinions are his, not necessarily theirs. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).

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Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • http://www.TheFranchiseKingBlog.com The Franchise King

    Jason,

    Great post.

    I hung out at Mixx.com for awhile; it was pretty good. But something was missing. I'm not sure what.

    I'll check out your friends mixxingbowl.com site, for sure.

    Currently, the voting site that I hang out at, and use, is a small business-related one;

    http://www.bizSugar.com

    (Disclosure; I'm on the board of advisors.)

    I hung out at bizSugar before Anita Campbell purchased it. Loved it then, and love it now…

    The Franchise King®

    • Brian Wallace

      Thanks for putting the story up, Jason – was fun collaborating!

      Joel – I'm curious as to what you found interesting about bizSugar (have also hung out there as well as Mixx) that you didn't find interesting about Mixx?

  • http://mytwittertoolbox.com David Perdew

    This community issue should be obvious to those who acquire sites, really. They should always have a reason for taking over a trusted application, and if it changes significantly in focus, they should be active in explaining why. As you say, doing nothing with something that works means very soon it won't work. Losing confidence from your audience is bad business, unless you've got a stellar strategy on how to attract new fans as a result.

  • http://twitter.com/badqat Cecil Helton

    How long until we see a similar sale of Digg with a dispensing of the social voting as well?

    • http://yourdissertation.com/ YourDissertation.com

      Actually no one still knows. Sorry :(

  • http://DonnyGamble.com Donny Gamble

    I did not even know Mixx.com got acquired. This is definitely going to be a reoccurring theme in my opinion.

  • http://www.all-themeparks.com Jenny Esponda

    Even I was not aware of that Mixx.com has been acquired by UberMedia. May be it can boost it success much more even from now.

  • SilentJay74

    Hello everyone,
    First off, Jason, excellent post. You never cease to hit the nail on the head! Brian's insight here is, as always, spot on.
    Second, for those curious as to launch date of the Social News platform on “The Bowl” as we call it, we're shooting for this weekend if all goes well. I hope to see you all come over and hang out with us. I am not promising the Mixxingbowl will be a huge traffic driver, again we are just doing this for the community. If things go well, who knows, we could end up being a player. But as this article points out we are not a start-up, just four guys kicking around an idea for the community. It's a side project of ours that we just want to have fun with.
    I hope to see you guys there!
    Jay (SilentJay74)

  • http://www.videocharacter.com Emily from Video Avatar

    There are a lot of websites like Mixx that created a community, I think it if effective because in this way we can constantly connect with other bloggers and followers at the same time showcase our work.

  • Guest

    Frankly if I wanted to be involved with a online community I’d join one of the other sheep groups, Facebook, Twitter, etc. If that’s the way Mixx is headed I have no need for it anymore. Mixx was a place where a person could vent or respond to a story or article anonymously. That doesn’t mean flaming or attacking individuals, just putting out a different point of view on different subjects. In our corporate owned media world too many of the stories we see are biased, and in more cases than not in a pro business way. As a lot of Facebook members have found out speaking your mind on the internet can have some dire consequences. Why anyone in their right mind would willing put their life story up on the internet is totally amazing. There is already way too much personal information on the internet than should be allowed. Data mining should be illegal! To all the people who like the idea of businesses having all their personal information and knowing everything about them so they can cater to their perceived wants and needs, fine, you should be able to choose to do so, it shouldn’t be the default position for everyone. To use a businesses site shouldn’t require a person to give them free reign to sell and do what they want with personal information. If anyone should be making money from the sale of their information it should be the individual who’s information it is!