Mashable’s new Follow is an example of Social Content Curation, where your content experience is influenced by topics your friends like, as opposed total web views or SEO. I managed to beg my way into a Beta test for Follow, so I can share my experience with you.
When you view an article on Mashable’s website, there are tags at the bottom of the article based on the main “topics” associated with the article. This is similar to tagging in SEO for pictures, etc. Example, and article on Apple iPad gives you six topics to follow: Apple, iOS, Verizon, Retina Display, iPad 2, and iPad. Clicking on one of the topics prompts you to a screen where you sign up through email, Facebook or Twitter for membership, populating your profile with your “friends”. Mashable automatically fills your picture and bio from Twitter or Facebook.
Before you elect to follow certain topics, you are given a prompt in logging with contacts pulled from your Facebook or Twitter list. Having entered in Beta I only had two contacts at first, @jbruin, a Mashable writer, and @alexpriest, a good friend from school. I followed Vadim, the Mashable community manager and @julieodell my second fave Mashable writer. When new members join you receive a red notification in your “activity” tab that they are following you: @blake did this and I followed him back. You can add services to connect to. I added LinkedIn:
Today’s first page story was “5 Decadent iPhone Apps for Chocolate Lovers”, which sounds perfect for me, so I decided to follow “Apps” and “Chocolate” which were tagged for the article. I followed “social media” which was one of the five most popular topics, then went to the People page to see what my friends were following. Alex’s topics were pretty generic, but Vadim was following “Social software” so I followed that. Blake was following Android so I clicked that too.
Now Mashable can recommend new topics for me to follow based on what I clicked, and populate the My Stories tab:
You can see my top stories, which are related to Social Media, Android and a random post related to Mashable Follow itself. When a new story appears in my feed I get a little red notification on the stories tab. On the righthand you can see “Recommended Follows” like on Twitter. These are the KOLs of Mashable Follow or friends.
Below the ad (yuck!) you can see a stream similar to Facebook of recent activity. (Blake’s been busy.) You also get red notifications at the top tab with your friends activity. Activity notices could get out of hand. I only was following 6 people, but after not checking it for about 48 hours, I had 34 activity notices. Unlike Facebook notices which directly pertain to your friends activity with you, these notices are for everything your friends do–every badge, every one they follow. Serious overload.
When I signed up for topics on Mashable I got a new Badge, the “Laughing Baby” badge. I wanted to go spy on Alex and see what badges he had, so I put his name into the Bing search bar. We have a problem. Alex is very popular and comes up as a “story” but when I click on his name I end up in the Mashable Twitter Directory, not on his Mashable Follow page. I have to go back up to the People tab, People You Follow, and scroll down to find Alex. Annoying.
Ok, let’s check out Alex’s badges:
Yay we’re even! For logging in and using Beta we both got a “LOL Catz” (I hate cats), and a “OG” badge. Alex has an “Oolong” badge because he’s super connected his Mashable profile to five other networks in place of my “Laughing Baby” badge. (Love you Alex.)
This post is an introduction to Mashable Follow. See comparison with Gawker coming soon.