Recently, I noticed a number of my friends publishing their blogs to Facebook using NetworkedBlogs. I like trying out as many new technologies as I can, and I have just started writing this blog, so thought I’d give it a try. So far, it has been somewhat disappointing. It does automate the process of posting my blog to Facebook for me which is a welcome tool, but it does not seem to bring me new readers. As a user, it also has not really helped me to discover new blogs I might like.
NetworkedBlogs is one of two applications developed by a company called Ninua, one of Dave McClure‘s 500 Startups companies. They appear to have a team of five, made up of four engineers and a designer. As a young company who are not yet heavily funded by Venture Capital, they are enjoying phenomenal success and have added value in connection Bloggers and FB. Most new businesses only dream of having over 1.7m active monthly users in an early phase of their development and before making big outlays on marketing.
Attaining the same scale would not be easy for a competitor, but I would like to see the small team working on the NetworkedBlogs application focus on making it a great experience for users to lock in their advantage. I can see a number of points where they intend to do something, but just haven’t gotten to it: their website, addition of twitter functionality on their syndication options, making their discovery algorithm work well. Last week saw the launch of an Android reader application which draws from the more than 700k blogs already syndicating via the NetworkedBlogs platform. Clearly their focus is to become a must for all bloggers to syndicate content.
If end users find something that works better for them on the discovery side, NetworkedBlogs could be relegated to another line in the checklist for a blogger.
Here’s what I think NetworkedBlogs should do about it:
- Worry about the consumer perspective first. If you get that right, bloggers will use and love the platform anyway.
- Make discovery easy. The allure of being able to see my favourite blog posts within Facebook is to consume great content without having to visit additional sites. This is VERY hard. It’s fundamentally the same as the once promised allure of My Yahoo!, iGoogle, and many others. I want to know what’s out there, but I don’t want to have to work for it. Time is money as the old adage goes.
- Improve discovery by using more than quantity to prioritise the users’ blog feed. Consider how much weight to assign to a single vote for content, perhaps scaled by number of posts seen. (1/1 post for the week should indicate a higher preference for content than 1/100 posts for the week. I voted once for a high frequency blog and no longer see content from other publishers on my first page of NetworkedBlogs in FB).
- Improve discovery by suggesting something fresh that the user may not have otherwise discovered. Base this on their reading, clicking and voting habits.
- Improve discovery by inserting messaging into the users news feed to remind them of the NetworkedBlogs page so the application is used regularly.
- Focus all of your resources on solving #1 by addressing #2. Don’t get distracted by anything else.
I love the concept of NetworkedBlogs. I would love to make NetworkedBlogs work for me beyond a distribution platform for my existing Facebook friends and fans. By addressing how NetworkedBlogs works for consumers, many of the existing traffic scams will fall away, the SEO benefits for bloggers will come, and success from making another form of content easily available within Facebook will be found.