When to build and when to join

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Good Old Trend

While I was gone three similar, but interesting, pieces of news turned up Bloglines. DN, Aftonbladet and Sydsvenskan are planning communities with the Josh XCAP platform.

It’s slightly strange that they all chose the same system, but fair enough – that’s not the interesting part. What is, is the choice to start building their own communities at a time like this. The logic follows along the lines of the classic protectionism that is often shown by media companies like these. Everyone wants to own their readers. If they instead focused on producing what the readers actually wanted, and made sure it could be placed where the readers already were, perhaps success would come eventually.

With this is mind, it might be better to produce a few intelligent and value-adding widgets for MySpace and Facebook instead. It would be considerably cheaper as well. Through portioning out your content into chunks and pieces that fit into current social frameworks, you are not as affected by the lack of loyalty shown by many community members. Instead, you can be versatile enough to change along with the times and move wherever the people may be going.

All communities aren’t doomed of course – even if Facebook and MySpace are doing a good job of eliminating quite a few competitors. But to be successful in that space you need to find an interesting enough niche, dedicate a lot of resources and/or simply design a web-app so well that it’s simply irresistible. I just don’t think any of the aforementioned newspapers will manage that.

(Transparency: We do consultancy work for Sydsvenskan but are not involved in the above project.)

A few other things I should have blogged about earlier:
* Sydsvenskan released their first original podcast today. Although we haven’t been part of the production, the idea originally came from us over a year ago. We thought HippHipp! was the perfect partner as they both have a strong connection to Sydsvenskans coverage area Skåne, and also have become national icons through their tv-series.

* “Who cares about what people think?” Fantastic (or tragic, depending on how you look at it) words from Anna Serner, the new CEO of The Swedish Newspaper Publishers’ Association.

* DI released their new design today, and kept the frames… OMG FRAMES!

* Olof wrote the entry I was thinking of writing myself. We’re ditching Plazes, sorry guys.

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