What We Can Learn From Flip.com
- January 11th, 2008
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The other day I was having coffee with the executive director of one of my favorite youth activism sites. She essentially said to me, “We don’t even care about traffic to the site anymore. Our stuff is all over the web.” When I was in Las Vegas earlier this week, one of the entrepreneurs at the Sandbox Summit cornered me looking for advice on how to reach teens with their social networking site for teens and parents. They were assuming the teens would get a separate area, just for them. My advice was basically don’t try to create yet another separate social network for teens—create an experience the whole family can share in. The social networking space is saturated when it comes to teenagers. They are mostly on MySpace and/or Facebook, and any new site trying to pull them (and all their friends) away is going to have an uphill battle.
The above anecdotes speak to the growing strategy for both media brands and brands in general to deemphasize the mothership/micro-site or hub and invest in reaching younger people where they live online already. I first heard this advice from Bill Joy when he visited us at Current TV way back when. What’s interesting about the Flip.com news is that because the site was born out of a print culture, they couldn’t conceive of just launching an application, which is essentially what the Flipbook is—they had to also build in (and staff up) the editorial component. And even though it’s function was, as Flip.com publisher Jane Grenier told me this morning, “to inspire and motivate girls to be creative,” in the end, we learned that just giving them the application is inspiration enough. The hardcore Flipbook makers spent upwards of an hour on the site, making Flipbooks (most likely not reading the editorial content). I didn’t get the numbers on their embeds/widget distribution on MySpace, but I imagine that, with the explosion of Facebook apps, they had a flash of realization that an app is indeed what they had built.
Jane told me that they still plan “to leave the lights on” at Flip.com and if their Facebook partnership ends up bringing enough girls back to the site, they can always staff up again (though I would think the staff would be more engineering and community manager oriented vs. editorial). I asked her if they planned to distribute Flipbooks via Open Social (on MySpace, Bebo and the other sites with that shared API). She said, right now, it’s just Facebook, but they’re definitely looking at it.