Some of the more interesting new online media sites are perfecting the art of harnessing the audience to author content and in many cases to be part of the content. The emerging model is between pure social media site UGC (user generated content) – random example I picked off Bebo – and traditional publisher sites such as CNN, Vogue, and People that produce highly edited material with almost no mechanism for user engagement.
Sites such as Yelp, Teamsugar and Stylehive (LSVP Portfolio company) can be seen as new breed of publisher combining topical reader submitted text and images, information about audience activity, and profile and reputational information about individual audience members to synthecitally develop media content. In some cases, editorial content is also injected directly or derived by harvesting and combining select audience content and activity information.
This can result in a far richer experience than a typcial online media site which features published articles. It also stands apart from generic community or social media sites with UGC because of the automated editorial overlay that continously derives or “authors” many of the heavily consumed content pages on the site(ie “Most popular new restuarants”, “today’s most viewed celebrity photo”, “hottest new undiscovered fashion brand”, “most active product reviewer of the past week”). The net result is hybrid media publisher model that not only “speaks” to a target audience but also embraces and reflects the audience directly and in real-time.
In a sense, Publishers 2.0 are harnessing their audience to do much of the work for keeping the site content fresh, enabling common interest groups to form, and generating non-portable rewards and validation for active users who do much of the “authoring” traditionally performed by staff writers and editors. We’ve labeled this the “audience community”.
We think there will be lots of new publishers who refine and perfect Web 2.0 mechanisms for becoming truly interactive with a target audience while still providing value-added editorial overlay. We’d love to hear from you about other innovative ideas in this area.