MasterNewMedia
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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Social Media Networking Meets RSS Content Aggregation And Promotion: Genwi

A new social media network with RSS aggregation capabilities has arrived on the scene, promising to provide a one-stop solution for the promotion of all of your online media.

Genwi-logo-500.jpg

Whether you are a blogger, NewsMaster, podcaster or online video-maker a crucial part of your work is in drawing attention to your content. Shared RSS feeds, social bookmarking, social networks and social news are all avenues that you might have explored in promoting your work, and each have their merits in boosting traffic to your website.

But what if you could promote all of your media using a combination of these approaches, from a single easy-to-use platform?

Now you can.

In what appears to be a unique remix of existing social services, a single social media network now promises to deliver the best elements of websites like Digg, del.icio.us, MySpace and BlogBridge from a single web platform.

The new service offers a social network designed specifically for the sharing and promotion of online media content. From one accessible website you can tap into:

  • The user-ranked social news popularized by websites like Digg. With Digg, a news item is voted up or down the rankings of the front page by its users. This new service ranks news, podcasts, videos, blog entries and RSS feeds by how many users choose to share them with their friends
  • The social bookmarking of del.icio.us. del.icio.us makes it easy to quickly share your personal website recommendations with the world. The new service is focused on the quick tagging and sharing of your favorite online media feeds
  • The social networking of MySpace. MySpace rose to popularity as users visited each other's personalized profile pages, sending messages, making friends and promoting music or videos of personal interest. The new service centers around a social network with similar functionality, foregrounding media sharing activity
  • The RSS feed recommendations of BlogBridge. Just as BlogBridge makes it easy to get personal recommendations on some of the best RSS feeds on the web, so this new service makes sharing and promoting RSS-based content a piece of cake

But is this new web 2.0 service effective at complementing or even replacing the highly successful existing social media platforms it borrows from?



Genwi - Overview

genwi_logo.jpg

Genwi is an ingenious combination of existing social media services. Its central focus is on supporting social networking dedicated to the easy sharing and promotion of online media RSS feeds.

The aim of the service is to provide you with a single location from which you can browse incoming news, blogs, podcasts and videos, subscribe to those that interest you, and recommend the ones you select to both your social network of subscribers as well as to all of Genwi users.

If you find a podcast, news item or video of interest while browsing the feeds on the Genwi homepage or inside your personal Genwi RSS feed subscriptions, all you need to do to promote that piece of content is to click on the 'share it' button next to it. That's all there is to it.

The 'share it' button will send whatever item you have chosen to recommend to everyone on your friend list. It also means that, should you build over time a significantly-sized friend network, you can quickly promote your own online media content to that whole group of people with a single click.

Furthermore, whenever you share a news story inside Genwi, that particular post will increase its standing on the homepage rankings.

The idea is that the most shared items will quickly rise to the top of the news streams, while the least shared ones will disappear gradually from sight. Anyone familiar with Digg will understand the principle.

In short you have a unified RSS feed reader, social network and social news destination that gathers RSS feeds not only from news sites, but also from blogs, podcasting and video sites, making it easy to share and promote such different type of content from a unique, online place.



The Interface

While Genwi doesn't have the most beautiful interface in the world, its minimal design and simple layout make navigating through the different types of content a straightforward prospect.

When you arrive at the Genwi homepage you are presented with highlights from the latest:

  • News
  • Blogs
  • Videos
  • Podcasts
  • Genwi members



Inside Genwi you have the option of scrolling down the page to take a quick look at th main news highlights showcased in a number of different categories, or you can dive into a specific topic / theme by utilizing a set of effective category tabs at the top of the screen. This makes it also very easy to jump straight to the podcasts, videos or users sections, depending on what you are most interested in.

The right side of the Genwi home page is taken up by a stream of the latest RSS feeds added to the site.

You are invited to add your RSS feed to this constantly evolving list. This is perfect for those not looking for specific, discrete items - such as single podcasts, one-off videos and invidual blog posts - but for those interested in finding new RSS-based content sources.

genwi_latest_feeds.jpg

Within each category you can sort the entries by:

  • How many times they have been shared, with the most shared items rising to the top of the list
  • How recently they were added, with the newest items at the top of the list
  • How popular they have been in terms of visits to the original content website, with the highest viewed sites at the top of the list
  • How recently they were published

genwi_sort_news.jpg



As mentioned earlier, a small 'share it' button, which you can be used to promote selected content to both your subscriber list and to the Genwi home page, is available next to each content item displayed. Not only. You can also:

  • add comments to a particular item,

  • rate it with a one-to-five star rating system, and
  • flag inappropriate content.

All of these features will be familiar to anyone that has ever used Digg or YouTube.

genwi_share_it.jpg



Personalization

Genwi offers a lot of what you would expect from a social networking site like MySpace, while attempting to make the experience of subscribing to and sharing RSS feeds more personalized.

As with any social network, users begin by creating a profile, uploading a photograph or personal avatar and inviting friends to join them by email. Once your social presence in the community has been established, you are ready to go about adding your selected RSS content feeds to your personal page.

You can search the entire Genwi feeds network by keyword, or you can import any RSS feed by directly inputting its URL.

When adding / importing your own RSS feeds Genwi makes it easy for you to add your own description and content tags to further facilitate other members to later find your content. Any newly submitted content makes immediately its way onto the Genwi homepage, and become also immediately available to anyone running a search using related keywords. As such, all content on Genwi is submitted by the community, for the community.

This is a great way of promoting your online media, as your content will get both immediate promotion from the Genwi homepage exposure (someone else is working now to make that one popular) and extended visibility from its remaining available to searches inside the Genwi content categories.

genwi_add_feed.jpg

In addition to your feed subscriptions you can create a list of favorites, which can be sorted by media type. Any items can be added to your favorites, and this is a good way of keeping track of particularly noteworthy videos, podcasts or blog posts, which may in turn be of interest to people visiting your personal profile.

genwi_subscriptions.jpg

Further social networking features include the ability to send messages to other users using the internal Genwi messaging system, the ability to make 'friend requests', to add new people to your personal feed-sharing network, along with the ability to upload your own photos and videos to your profile.

Each user also has a comments page, so that visitors can leave comments and notes to the owner of a particular profile.

Personalization is also boosted by the effective ways in which your subscriptions and favorites can be shared.

This personal, social dimension to the aggregation of RSS feeds is what sets Genwi apart, making the creation of personal feeds as much about recommending, promoting and sharing online media content as about filtering content to your own tastes.

With the added dimension of an easy-access homepage of highlights from within the community, Genwi has a lot going for it as a way of finding new content while promoting your own work among like-minded people.


Room for Improvement

I can see no way of exporting the RSS feeds to another feed reader. Should you want to read your RSS feeds anywhere other than Genwi, you have to go and visit the source website and subscribe from there.

Genwi uses a Digg-like system to determine which news items, videos, blog posts and podcasts are listed highest on its front page. The principle is simple - the more people choose to recommend an item to their friends, the higher up the ranks that item goes. Right now, on the Genwi homepage most of these ranked lists have items at the top with only one or two recommendations. But Genwi, which launched in beta only a few months ago, is still in its very early stages, and like any social network it may take some time for developing a significantly large community to support it.

The ability to pull in enough users will make or break Genwi as both a social network and a destination for the effective promotion of online media content. Without people, the possibilities for promoting your content are going to be limited.

genwi_low_shares.jpg

This is a problem that will hopefully change over time as Genwi manages to build up its user-base, but will nevertheless require plenty of creative marketing and promotion if Genwi is to become a serious contender in the already crowded field of social media.



Conclusions

Genwi has a lot of promise as an online destination for those looking to promote and share their RSS-enabled online media. Whether you are looking to promote your niche-tailored news-stream, the content of your blog, your latest podcast or even your online videos Genwi offers a single platform from which you can do so.

Genwi is a well-featured social networking, content aggregation and promotion platform that effectively manages to pool a range of online media feeds into a single location, making all of them accessible in the process. If I am interested in checking out general recommendations, I can do so from the homepage. If, however, I am only interested in online video, podcasts, blog posts or news feeds, I can whittle my selection down very easily using tabbed navigation.

Genwi would be a unique prospect if it worked simply as a content aggregation service for the vast range of online media. However, this only tells half of the story, as the aggregated content featured on Genwi provides the focus for the equally significant social networking dimension of the service. Rather than simply cataloguing feeds from the latest videos, podcasts and blogs the Genwi team has opted to use them as a backdrop for the social interaction between those sharing and promoting their content.

The only little problem here is that there are already a great many such networks, and a lot of people have their time and effort invested in one or more of them. The biggest hurdle that Genwi will face is in capturing a sufficiently large audience to create a vibrant, buzzing community in the first place. Without this community, the huge potential that Genwi has for the promotion of online media will not amount to much. As the service is in its early days, only time will tell on this front.

Genwi has every reason to succeed however, and I like the idea of having blogs, news, online video and podcasts gathered in a single place, and hand-picked by real people. Those looking to promote their content may well find Genwi a good addition to the staple online media promotion methods, such as tagging your work using social bookmarking services, submitting your latest content to social news sites and creating a presence on the major social networks.

Genwi offers an easy way to do all three, and has the small but tangible potential to win you some new RSS subscribers and site visitors.

If you are looking for an additional mean to boost your site traffic or tap into the content recommendations of other users it may be worthwhile investing a little time trying out, before your competitors do, this interesting new online marketing venue.



Additional Resources

If you would like to learn more about Genwi and promoting your content through social media, you might want to take a look at the following links:




Originally written by Michael Pick for Master New Media and first published as: "Social Media Networking Meets RSS Content Aggregation And Promotion: Genwi"

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Readers' Comments    
2007-04-23 19:36:02

Kiran

Cylive (http://www.cylive.com) has a somewhat similar concept, but with a different approach.

Instead of providing RSS-based aggregation of feeds, Cylive is a media-type agnostic platform for 'socially sharing and publishing' any structured or unstructured content .



2007-04-13 13:35:57

Harrison

Hey, you should check out www.spokeo.com It has the same concept, but a very different kind of design. Hopefully you find it useful :)



2007-03-21 14:27:59

PJ

Thanks David and Robin. Would love to get more feedback on the interface issues.



2007-03-21 11:20:20

Robin Good

David, I could not agree more. The potential is really there but unless these guys take good care of the interface usability and design, these is going to remain only a good idea for others to model after.



2007-03-21 08:12:17

David Armstrong

Good Review....details are great, factual unbiased views are great...thanks. btw...I tried it...it's not for me, usability on their site is really rough.



 
posted by Michael Pick on Tuesday, March 20 2007, updated on Friday, February 26 2010


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