"Social Exchange" is a column focused on the evolving roles of social media in online advertising.
Today's column is written by Andrew Pancer, Chief Operating Officer of Media6Degrees.
Why wasn’t I happier last week when The New York Times (NYT) rolled out Facebook Connect, allowing readers to “connect” through their Facebook accounts? After all, I’m a big believer in the power of social graphs to help publishers drive engagement, attract new readers and build revenue.
With the new Facebook option, NYT readers can see what their "friends" are reading. They can also recommend articles, which are posted to their Facebook profiles. But so far, it’s been a disappointing experience. As much as I want NYT to succeed (full disclosure: I am a former NYT employee), the strategy, at least in its current iteration, is fundamentally flawed.
The underlying problem is that my Facebook “friends” are a pretty diverse – and rather large – group. Once I linked my Facebook account to NYT, for example, I was connected to a woman who is my “friend” because we went to the same high school and saw each other at our 25th reunion. She is an avid reader of NYT and she recommends a lot of articles. The problem is that almost none of the articles she recommends are interesting to me.
What I care about – and what resonates with me – are the interests I share with my true friends and close connections. The bottom line is that, like many people, I have “friended” hundreds of people, many of whom are only casual acquaintances at best. Now people I have nothing in common with are populating my NYT home page. And the only real way for this new initiative to have any real relevance would be for me to “de-friend” a lot of them.