Owning the experience should be the highest concern in the age of platforms such as facebook for publishers (not aggregators).
For those of you who have failed to fully participate within the platforms that your users are active in, you need to pay close attention.
To simplify how we can asses your value a bit, we have two important components to consider.
Content + Distribution
You should be very active to increase the distribution component of the equation to hedge your bets, but this post is about the first part of the equation, the content. We’ll focus on how you can still leverage this part of your core value to create depth in experience for your users and ultimately increase your value proposition.
Content as a Platform?
It’s when people use a fragment of some content as a means to remix, discuss, modify that content in some way with an audience thereby increasing the value of the content.
You need to add something else… stop thinking of content as content and more as a platform. It can be so much deeper than that. This is your opportunity to change the economics of your business.
Think of your content in fragments… think of it as a hundreds and thousands of reactions to the readers rather than the words in the article… By treating the content more as a platform, you start to create depth in the experience. The more deep the experience, the more likely it is to be shared. Sharing is what you ultimately want the user to do. It introduces (or re-introduces) your content into the first part of the equation.
We’ve seen a few publishers install these little bars on some of their properties. They allow users to quickly access items such as the publisher’s facebook fan page, their latest tweets, share articles (the most poorly executed feature) and shortcuts to pages that they would like visitors to access. These are good things that users want, but they don’t belong there and the ones do are not executed properly. This is not what the footer real estate is most optimally used for. A fixed footer (or fixed anything) should be very smart and relevant to the core reason why a user is visiting a particular page. You can see an example here.
Ask yourself… what value am I trying to bring to the user? The most obvious would be around saving, sharing, and then suggestion of relevant content. All content centric actions. In the order of lowest to highest friction… it would go suggestion, saving, and then sharing.
The Three Actions
Suggestion: Listen to what the user is doing (tracking tools) and then suggest relevant content. Stop looking at JUST that single article and pay attention to the whole sequence of actions. The user’s flow in aggregate will give you a better idea in terms of what (content, ads, etc) to serve the user.
Saving: Now that the user feels like your content has some value and your bar isn’t cluttered with crap, she would be ok with pressing a little star to save this content even though she has 100 other ways to bookmark this article. Because you made it as simple as possible to save this right here.
Sharing: Ok, now she has a few articles saved in your bar and is use to the idea of saving articles this way. Ah!! Steve would love these two articles, and here’s one for Dianne.
So here is a bar that we did as a quick mockup of what we think one of these bars should look like. Enjoy