Today I received an email announcing the arrival of a new social media site which has been developed by News Ltd. And I’m completely mystified about how so much money can completely miss the point of Social Media.
Described as “A new media brand that combines the power of word of mouth, social media and mass media to spread your good news” (deep breath now) the site seems completely pointless. No specials, no sense of community, no compelling reason to participate.
Perhaps this is some sort of desperate ploy by News Ltd to recoup some of the half a billion dollars they lost on the My Space acquisition. Arguably the demise of this once great site occurred because they didn’t ‘get’ social media back then either.
From what I can make out, the point of welikethis.com.au is to provide a platform for people to express their views about ‘products’. What products? I hear you ask. Well apparently every product you can think of.
News Ltd COULD have taken a safer line and imitated Yelp, the Social Media review site which is so wildly successful in the States and now gaining momentum in Europe. Yelp has yet to make it to Australia and I wish they’d hurry up. But the new site from News Ltd has tried to reinvent the wheel and I’m predicting another dud.
I can just imagine the meeting around the boardroom table which unleashed this mystifying dud. It probably started out with some executive bemoaning the rise of social media, stealing market share from traditional news sources and threatening to drive many more large old-world retailers to the wall. The half baked idea was probably developed by some young bright spark and given the go-ahead by decision makers who, over a quiet beer, might confess to having no idea about the point of Social Media anyway.
There are a zillion sites in cyber land which hope to become the next Facebook or Twitter. Some of them are ingenious and I will continue to watch with great interest to see which ones succeed, but the vast majority will never reach critical mass.
And at the end of the day, not even a Rupert Murdoch sized budget will substitute for ingenuity.