Just when you think all the ideas for a social service have been created, a new one pops up. Publishers can't use every new social channel out there, but they should pay attention to new ways of consuming content that could turn into valuable distribution channels.
For instance, in the last year Foursquare
emerged as ways for media companies to engage users and present content in new formats. And the tablet launched Flipboard
, a "social magazine," into stardom.
“Tools like Flipboard, Instapaper, paper.li have become the new mosaic of consuming content,” said Anurag Harsh, senior vice president of Strategy and Business Development at Ziff Davis Inc., speaking at a conference last fall.
What's next? Here are three up-and-coming social services publishers should keep on their radar as new ways to create and consume content.
allows users to read Twitter and Facebook as a daily newspaper, creating each user's very own edition. Searching “Paper.li” on Twitter brings up a new “newspaper” generated practically every minute.
A competing service called PostPost
does something similar, but Paper.li really took off; in the first six months the site gathered two million unique users and published 150,000 “papers,” according to CMS Wire
. Small Rivers, the start-up behind the service, just raised a new funding round of $2.1 million, though it's business model isn't clear yet.
News organizations could presumably curate their own Paper.li newspaper as one engaging Twitter tactic. Partnerships also seem to be coming soon. Earlier this year, GigaOm
reported that Paper.li has been approached by several traditional media companies that want to integrate the Paper.li experience into their own sites. Co-founder and CEO Edouard Lambelet told me in an e-mail they are “currently brainstorming” with publishers but can't announce anything yet.
As smartphones have promoted a culture of snapping and sharing photos instantly, Instagram
popped up to make taking and sharing photos more elegant and easier. Instagram is a free iPhone app (not yet on Android) that allows users to take pictures, edit them and share with their social networks. The app launched in October and attracted 100,000 signups in its first week, already surpassing 1 million registered users in late December, according to Mashable
Some brands have started using the platform for engagement. For instance, Starbucks asked fans for feedback on its new logo. It would make sense for the platform to evolve to facilitate more user-submitted photos and interaction.
Co-founder Kevin Systrom told TechCrunch
they’re working on better experiences for all the brands to communicate more directly with their users. “Instagram is evolving from being a photo platform for you and your friends to share moments, into something larger and more powerful as a platform to connect with news events in a rich way,” he said.
In case you didn't notice, the media has been completely abuzz talking about Quora
, a collection of questions and answers created, edited, and organized by everyone who uses it. Users can “follow” other users and topics, making it a social service.
Answer services have been around since the dawn of the Web, so why did Quora get popular all of the sudden? If you ask the question on Quora
, you'll find not everyone agrees Quora is necessarily a better service than others; it just went viral when users shared it via other social networks, resulting in a growth surge
For media companies, Quora could have a useful impact, particularly on the content production side. Poynter published helpful tips for how journalists can use Quora
. In addition to reporting and researching topics and finding sources, Quora is another great place for journalists to build their personal brands and the brands of their organization as a resource, making it a valuable marketing venue. On the other hand, as exciting as Quora is for media types, it could just be just another time sink, notes the Newspaper Death Watch blog
Other than editorial purposes, it's too early to tell whether media companies will have opportunities to partner or integrate with Quora. The site's first API
was released as a Chrome browser extension
; could other APIs come out for media companies? I could see Quora integrating more with media companies the way Facebook has dramatically done
in the last year.