Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Learning More about your Readers

I'm not a natural to online social networking. To be honest, I was always too busy to connect with people online when I'd rather do it in person.

After leaving my traditional newspaper job, I realized I needed to learn more about it. Even though many of my responsibilities in print had turned digital, there's something about joining an Internet startup that will force you into learning the details of something you only know on the surface.

Almost a year later, I'm facebooked, linkedin and twittering away. Aside from the connections and reconnections, both personal and professional, it's become even more important to me as a the content manager. I'm using the social networking part of our site,, as a way to assign stories that readers are talking about in groups, writing about on their journals or asking about in our polls.

Also based on my experiences, I've been involved in the discussions about how to improve the social networking part of the site. We eventually came up with an easy-to-use question and answer format that allows readers to share the details of their personal relationship story with their friends in the community.

Last week, after some weeks of editorial and technical tweaking, we rolled out the latest addition to the site. We sent out a link to the site addition in late-week e-mail to users, who have been filling them out ever since.

In addition to their story, the new page also gives users a chance to offer relationship tips to others, which we'll eventually cull to use in another form to enhance the site's content.

As I wrote in the e-mail introduction: "No matter where you are in your relationship, you can also offer advice to others about what you've learned so far. And you can read what others have learned along the way as well. By sharing your story, you can help yourself to move forward to a new and better place. And your story can help others do the same."

And isn't that part of what social networking is all about?

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