‘Mashable Follow’ focuses on power users with curation, sharing tools

Considering that Mashable stories are retweeted 40,000 times a day and shared on Facebook with the same frequency each week, the people at Mashable understand that their success depends on social media.

On Tuesday, the social and digital media news site launched a new "social layer," Mashable Follow, aimed at helping users find and share Mashable content that is most interesting to them.

The tools enable readers to curate their news streams by selecting topics and people of interest to follow within the site. In themselves, these features aren't groundbreaking. However, what strikes me is who would get the most out of these features — power users.

Such users would be interested in being able to efficiently traverse the site's content, which has grown in volume and diversity. Some of those people may be influencers within their own circles. They're the ones who can bring a lot of people to a story by sharing it on Facebook or Twitter.

I picked up on this when Vadim Lavrusik, Mashable's community manager and social media strategist, told me that success will be measured by the number of active users, not just how many sign up. The site is encouraging engagement by awarding badges for sharing content, linking one's social networks and following topics.

I think Mashable understands social well enough not to try to create another social network, which Lavrusik emphasized several times in saying, "We're not reinventing the wheel." But this could be a way to magnify its influence in existing social networks.

Mashable Follow has four components:

  • Follow topics: Every story will have "follow" buttons, enabling users to filter the types of stories they want to see. Those stories are accessible on a "My Stories" page.
  • Sharing: Mashable is ending the proliferation of specialized "share" buttons, replacing them with a single tool that will share to several key social networks.
  • Rewards: Users earn badges and other rewards by sharing stories, following topics and commenting on articles.
  • Profile pages: Mashable Follow includes profile pages where readers can promote their social media accounts and connect with other Mashable community members who share their interests. Users can link to Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, LinkedIn, Google Buzz and Digg.

A number of other news organizations have applied similar social layers on their websites. The Huffington Post began testing Facebook-powered article recommendations last month. The Independent in the U.K., among others, has begun using Facebook "likes" to allow readers to create custom topic feeds on their Facebook walls. And back in 2008 The New York Times launched its own TimesPeople, a closed social network.

As with these other websites, page views and time on site are key. Lavrusik told me that visitors from social networks spend significantly more time on the site and view twice the number of pages as those who arrive via search.

If Mashable can create a social experience on the site among its power users, perhaps it can multiply that effect, leading to more page views, increased engagement and wider proliferation of its content across the Web.

Steve Myers contributed to this post.


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