News spreads fast online. The rise of social networking has led to users not only consuming the news in new ways, but also distributing it. Social bookmarking sites such as digg
have allowed users to save the content they like online and to share this within their local community. It can be hard to imagine what this spread of news looks like, as we move away from the news agenda being dictated by a few privileged individuals, to the online masses. The below video should help you understand this a bit more. It's taken from the social bookmarking site Digg, which allows users to vote for popular stories and add them to their own profile, which their community can then see....
The most voted for stories appear on the homepage of the site, putting the agenda in the hands of the users. This video shows users voting for iphone news stories, during its release in January 2007. Each circle is an iphone news article and the yellow dots are users that are voting for the stories. The more people vote, the bigger a story gets... You can also see this hapening live over on Digg Swarm
, along with some other cool ways of visualising users voting for stories. Hover over a circle to see the story and the yellow dots link through to that users' profile. This spread in online distribution of news has also led to a demand for the personalisation of news. Many users now choose to filter the news they receive online by subscribing to rss feeds from sites, often within a service like Google Reader
, which allows you to view all your news feeds in one place. Personalisation of news is a constantly developing area online, as companies recognise users' desire to set their own news agenda, streamlining the content they receive into only that which they choose to digest. A new service launched this year - Alltop
allows you to create and share your own news page, where you can search to receive news based on keywords that are of interest to you. We've built our own Simply Zesty
Alltop page and can tell you that it's very easy! New services such as FeedJournal
even allow you to print your own newspaper, converting your personalised online content onto paper. So what does all this mean for you? By understanding that people online now act as distributors of content within their community, you can begin to ask yourself what you can offer them to stand out of the crowd. It means you have to work a bit harder to capture someone's attention in the first place, but understand that when you have the reach doesn't end at that one person. If you're finding and engaging with the right audience online, that person may just want to share your news with their community. Whether that's posting a link on Twitter, Facebook, or writing about it on their own blog, that single user is now a gateway into an untapped audience.