Readying for next month’s Blog World Expo presentation on traditional media members saving their audiences by using social media, I’ve been able to find out about some interesting things in the works. I’ve agreed to respect the media outlet’s readiness and am holding off spilling the beans, as it were, but one such media member gave me the green light to tell you about their social media stake today.
BusinessWeek, apparently clawing for some online cachet in the wake of FastCompany.com‘s over-the-top social networking bonanza, is in private alpha for an interesting social bookmarking and pseudo-social networking toolset they’re calling Business Exchange. I’ve been asked to participate, along with a few other social media bloggers I’ve discovered are there, and though I’ve not had ample time to explore it deeply, here’s what they’re cooking up for you.
The concept is essentially a social bookmarking mechanism that allows users to post articles they find (or posts of their own — And don’t think they didn’t pitch it as an opportunity to drive traffic to my own site, those clever kids!) in a topic-organized knowledge stream. The stream can be organized under headings “Most Active,” “News,” and “Blogs.” As B.L. Ochman has already pointed out reacting to their bookmarking dialog box, separating blogs from news is rather short-sighted. When you bookmark a URL, your input fields make you choose between “News” and “Blogs and Opinion,” indicating a less-than-ideal, but understandable, respect level for bloggers. I think Ochman goes a bit overboard with her criticism, but that, of course, is understandable, too.
The “most active” organization is nice but there’s little indication other than clicks or users “Saving” the article on their own profile page as to what gauges activity. There’s no voting mechanism and no apparent commenting functionality for the articles.
You can view another member’s profile and see the articles they’ve posted, saved and so on. But there doesn’t appear to be a way to contact or message them, bring attention to links you think they’ll find interesting and etc.
While the organization of business-oriented information by topic is convenient and inviting the magazine’s users in to experience some nice social functionality together is a nice step forward in the social media world for the publication, there’s nothing that seems unique in the feature set. In fact, there are some basics missing, though sometimes keeping it simple is the right approach depending upon the audience.
The good news is that it is in Alpha with Beta to come next month sometime. I’ve been told the platform is in it’s 20th iteration or so and the in-house development team is continually adding to and growing it. There is potential there, but it seems like a less-functioning del.icio.us for the time being.
Is it something that looks like the in-the-bubble folks will be excited about? No. But BusinessWeek’s target audience includes a lot more than us. The baby steps approach may just draw the mainstream readers of theirs into some nice social media habits.
To sign up for the invite-only Alpha, look for the link on the left hand side at http://topicexchange.businessweek.com/