Obama’s “Ask me anything” online interview puts Reddit in the spotlight and demonstrates that harnessing the power of social media is more than collecting Twitter followers and Facebook fans – it’s all about engagement. Newspaper editors and publishers take note.
Originally posted on Gigaom:
Although it has a pretty wide following within a certain community of geeks and web natives, Reddit achieved another whole level of mainstream status recently when President Obama agreed to do one of the site’s crowdsourced “Ask Me Anything” interviews. In the wake of that event, New York Times media writer David Carr looked at how the web community has been able to grow even after being acquired by Advance Publications, the Newhouse-owned media giant that also owns a number of newspapers such as the recently downsized Times-Picayune in New Orleans. Is there anything that Advance or any other media company could learn from what Reddit has done or is doing? I think there is.
Reddit’s success and growth since the acquisition by Advance is unusual, as Carr notes — the history of web-based communities and other similar digital businesses after they get acquired by media giants is not exactly filled with happy stories. Typically, the larger media entity imposes various restrictions on the asset it has acquired and ruins whatever made it successful in the first place. But for whatever reason, Advance didn’t do this with Reddit: there were no failed attempts at “synergies” with the rest of the company, and no tinkering with the formula that made the service so appealing to so many — namely, a frontier-style freedom similar to the somewhat notorious community 4chan.