Posted on April 27th, 2006 No comments
It’s another one of those serendipitous weeks. In his latest”Stop the Presses” Editor and Publisher column, Steve Outing called out Bakotopia user profiles as an example for other newspapers to follow. Thanks for the promo, Steve!
One quote in particular is sweetly ironic given some other news this week. Steve writes:
The Bakersfield Californian’s Bakotopia website takes a quasi-MySpace approach, allowing any user who wants one to create a personal page — uploading a photo, telling a little bit about themselves, describing their interests, etc. (Here are some examples.) Now, Bakotopia is not the newspaper’s main website; it’s a Craigslist- and MySpace-influenced online community and free-classifieds site, where Bakersfield residents can go to sell a bicycle for free, look for a job, learn about local bands’ upcoming gigs, or meet up with friends or others with shared interests.
Bakotopia users are mostly younger people; the website is designed to attract that demographic. Its users are the generation likely to use MySpace. Yet there’s a good reason to create such an online community: As popular as MySpace may be among young people, it’s still a national company that can’t get as deep locally as a community-based online operation like Bakotopia. Just because MySpace is a huge success doesn’t mean that local news organizations should give up on the personal-space and social-networking market.
Bakotopia’s model makes sense for a youth-oriented website run by a news company. But I’ll go further out on a limb and suggest that a variation of that model needs to be taken to more traditional news sites.
So here’s the irony. We’re going out on that limb ourselves. While Steve was writing this, we were busy getting user profiles ready to launch on Bakersfield.com, the Californian’s main Web site. They’re in a preview form and are intentionally not being heavily promoted yet, but you can catch a glimpse of them on Bakersfield.com’s new Recent Visitors page. This is just the very first step toward really blowing out persona and interactivity on Bakersfield.com, so check back soon to see what we have in store.
I should point out that everything we’re doing on Bakersfield.com uses the same home-grown Bakomatic platform that powers Bakotopia, Northwest Voice, Tehachapi News, Newtobakersfield and several others. We just keep popping them out when we see an audience that another brand may be able to serve better. That’s the whole point of our audience strategy, and now that we have Bakersfield.com on the platform we can use its features to better serve the existing audience that likes the Californian best.
Think of it as a strategy of total marketshare. If you compare local media to an ocean, we’re no longer trying to cover it with just a bigger, better ocean liner (the newspaper). We’re also putting hundreds of little paddle boats in the water around it. People can go between them all, and in most markets that’s what they do — but it’s usually away from products the newspaper controls (to Yahoo Groups, Craigslist sites, Myspace pages, etc). In the case of Bakersfield, they’re now starting to move around in a network of sites and brands that we own.
Perhaps most importantly though, we now have the ability to observe activity across demographics and all of the sites in our growing local network of brands. In the future, we’ll be leveraging this information to help individuals find people like them across the network, and to allow advertisers to provide more customized, targeted information to consumers on an opt-in basis. And I’m sure we’ll be able to use the network ways we haven’t even imagined yet.
Posted on April 14th, 2006 No comments
I was intrigued by the news that eBay is reportedly investing $2 million in Meetup.com:
Meetup enables real-world meetings of local interest groups. I remember first hearing about the site when Howard Dean, who was then running in the Democratic primaries, used Meetup to organize campaigners across the country. Other presidential frontrunners soon joined in. Meetup faded into the background after the elections, but as with most of these types of “social media” sites, it continued to be used. Meetup now has 2 million members, and is growing.
Since I work for a newspaper in Bakersfield, I searched around for Meetup groups in that town. I was struck by how the groups that appeared centered around non-mainstream, niche and minority interests (for example, wiccans, anime, LBGT and alternative health).
Based on this, I have three theories for why eBay is interested in Meetup:
- eBay is looking for a prototype to help it enable real-world meetings of “eBayers.” These are the people who have been buying and selling on eBay for years and now know each other well. Many already meet in person regularly, and this would just make that easier. The fact that eBay didn’t just outright buy Meetup, but invested in it, suggests that it wants ideas more than just technology. This is similar to eBay’s earlier investment in Craigslist.
- Coupled with its recent acquisition of Skype, eBay is looking to branch out in new directions that complement its traditional community focus. It’s trying Meetup out to see if it can work in a larger way for eBay.
- eBay wants to expand its marketshare by getting members of niche communities to buy and sell through eBay. I doubt this is the primary motivator, but it makes sense that it could be an added benefit. I often tell people about how I frequently find good home improvement contractors through the Boulder Rockn Moms Yahoo Group, which my wife belongs to. Buying and selling are just more task-oriented types of social connections, and they often happen through niche interest groups.