Magazines Look For Ways To Mesh Social Networking With Built-In Community

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Numerous magazines were working the community angle before the MySpace target audience was born — readers’ panels, get togethers, encouraging readers to share, even paying readers for contributions. But the current wave of social networking and the commensurate tools is taking those magazines to a new level while encouraging others to try. The result: a blend of interactivity with social networking concepts and goals. Andrew Swinand, EVP, group client leader for Starcom USA, told Stephanie Smith publishers are having a typical knee-jerk reaction but need to avoid the notion that recreating MySpace is the answer. Swinan explained: “Myspace.com is the flavor of the week, but let’s start with the consumer and apply that to the brand. Publishers should strategically be looking at the brand and understanding what the consumer proposition is.” Some examples from Smith’s overview of the mag-based social media landscape:
— Conde Nast is working on a teen destination meant to difer from MySpacre and its own online efforts like TeenVogue.com.
— A 2007 redesign of MarthaStewart.com will add personalization and community features.
— Time Inc.’s Parenting Group launched momconnection.com in 2003. It has about 6,000 users who can post messages or take part in surveys and product tests. This month, personal profile pages are being added with photo posting to follow in August. It sounds like a small number but wasn’t meant to be extend the brand or add a revenue stream.
— Also on the parenting front, Meredith Corp. is expanding interactivity on americanbaby.com and increasing multimedia. A recent contest encouraged readers to send in video. Parents.com, due for launch in 2007, will be a parenting portal connecting Parents, Child, Family Circle and the American Baby Group.
Meredith is also dealing with the different needs and desires of its varied audiences. For instance, sharing video appeals to parents but not to readers of More, who prefer to connect with others who share their interests.

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