Content Ninja's Weblog

An exploratory journey on the edge of newspaper evolution

Invest a little, gain a lot May 14, 2008

Filed under: content,innovation,social media — contentninja @ 5:04 pm
Tags: , ,
AudienceImage via Wikipedia

I’ve been saying, “It’s not about us; it’s about the audience,” for a while now. Forrester’s Jeremiah Owyang takes it a step further in a blog post today: “On the Value of Investing in Your Own Customers.”

Owyang is writing from a consultant’s perspective, but it’s interesting if we consider how journalism might apply the principle as well. He writes:

“By investing in your own customers, making them smarter, exposing them to best practices, and to let them form real relationships amongst each other, the benefits go beyond the pure relationship stated in the service level agreement, but bring an intangible human value that often can’t be measured.”

It seems to me that an online community is a great opportunity to invest in our customers. “Making them smarter, exposing them to best practices, and to let them form real relationships amongst each other” seem crucial to successfully engaging them in helping us build context around content.

I’ve been thinking about what features/functionalities a thriving online community would need and have come up with a list. It’s a pretty simplistic list, and nothing is presumed to be a given (because I don’t believe most items here have reached a saturation point for a majority of users). I have vainly titled it:

Content Ninja’s Wish List

  • Customizable interface: Lets users choose info that’s served to them. Require users to fill out a profile, and info is tailored to their interests? Or drag and drop content boxes, like iGoogle? Could advertising content be customizable, too?
  • Twitter feed. Twitter could be a useful tool for communicating with core group of activist members. Opt-in for others?
  • Content/context: Posting to the site must be super simple. User must register name to post, though.
  • One button “e-mail to a friend”
  • One button “rate this” polling
  • Comments: Easy to post, but not anonymous.
  • Build an event function: Like Facebook but better. Click “event” button, and it automatically pulls in calendar info for selected local event. Lets you invite friends. Lets invitees see who’s invited and who’s accepted/declined/pending.
  • Photo/video sharing: Must be super simple. One or two clicks simple. Or drag and drop simple.
  • RSS
  • Forums

What’s missing? What would you not include? What context can you add? Please share!

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4 Responses to “Invest a little, gain a lot”

  1. Allen Taylor Says:

    Nice writing. You are on my RSS reader now so I can read more from you down the road.

    Allen Taylor

  2. Chuck Peters Says:

    Could this list power a “Lucy”, or Local Information User Community, as proposed by Bernie at


  3. Matthew M Says:

    Many online ad agencies let you choose which ads to display on your site. I think it is feasible to allow a member/user to show the Latest Woot! product or display ebay ads based on an ebay category or keyword.

    From a programming perspective it is possible to create these buckets and allow members to embed ones they choose into their page. I am thinking Oodle, Ebay, Craigslist..etc. The shared revenue part is beyond me but damn it sounds cool right now. Another thought comes to mind: is imitation and reinvention necessary to create this portal or do we start on a path of discovery and hope someone else already built it? It is similar to the Apple vs Microsoft history. Steve and Bill are both rich so who really cares anymore.

  4. contentninja Says:

    Allen: Thank you.

    Chuck: Yes, but I’d also argue that the acronyms/names aren’t getting any less tortured. :)

    Matthew: I wasn’t thinking strictly national advertisers. If we can create the buckets of advertising content, then conceivably we could put local advertisers in those buckets as well for users to choose from, right? And what if a user wants (it’s possible, although not a given) only local ads?

    You also raise a good point about the revenue. We make advertising money by delivering reach. If ads are opt-in, what does that do to the revenue model?

Comments are closed.