Can the Power of Micro-Blogging Save Business 2.0 Magazine?

I read with great dismay this morning the possible demise of one of my favorite magazines, Business 2.0 .

According to the New York Times article, even though the magazine has a circulation of 623,000, there’s a couple reasons why this might happen:

Aside from the overall downturn in the magazine business, current and former Time Inc. employees point to what appears to have been an ill-advised move this year to combine the advertising sales teams of Time Inc.’s finance and business publications, which include Fortune, Money, CNNMoney.com, Fortune Small Business and Business 2.0. Consolidated under a single banner, Time Inc.’s Business and Finance Network (or Tibfin, as it is known inside the company), Time sales representatives stopped pitching the distinct appeal and audience of Business 2.0 to focus on the larger titles like Fortune. That often turned Business 2.0 into an afterthought; big advertisers like Microsoft and Intel were offered discounts on other Time Inc. business titles if they would also buy pages in Business 2.0.

I’ve been a reader for many years and even though I read multiple blogs and online news sources daily, I always find interesting stuff in the magazine. It also helps me synthesize what I’ve read on the Web in the last few months. I’ve also found it’s a great media vehicle to introduce non-web business people to new web initiatives.

I then posted a short status update in my Facebook micro-blogging feed that said “Sebastien is sad to think Business 2.0 magazine might fold in September…

45 minutes later, I get an e-mail from one of my new “friends”, Colin Carmichael, who’s inviting me to a new group he’s created to save Business 2.0. He told me I had tipped him off to the demise of Business 2.0 and he wanted to do something. I obviously joined the group and invite you to do the same if you like the magazine.

What it means: it’s my first opportunity to experience first-hand the power of micro-blogging, those small atoms of information written in new communication tools like Twitter, Jaiku, Pownce and Facebook (via the status update section). Very powerful tools. On another note, I believe print magazine usage growth (and by extension revenue growth) will come from specializing, not becoming more generalist. By consolidating their sales force, publishers run the risk of abandoning their specialty titles and future growth. The same debate takes place all the time in the directory business. Should publishers use a different sales force for Internet products or for vertical publications? I think you need to take a good look at where you think your growth will come from in the future and support adequately those initiatives.

Silicon Valley is Abuzz about Facebook

Silicon Valley is currently crazy about Facebook. Robert Scoble has captured some of the discussions:

John Battelle asks a compelling question: why Facebook and why now?

Scott Rosenberg of Slate follows up with another point: that Facebook’s friends definitions are all messed up.
Over on TechMeme everyone is talking about how Facebook’s advertising isn’t working.

Robert also offers some explanations about why this is happening:

First, why does Facebook’s advertising suck?

Because it isn’t tied to people or applications. Everything I do in Facebook is about interacting with people. For instance, at the top of my Facebook inbox right now is Ryan Coomer. The advertising next to him says “Try Forex Trading Today.” There is absolutely NO connection between who Ryan is and the advertising that’s put next to him.(…) Translation: Facebook needs an advertising platform and it needs one in the worst way. I’m not going to even look at the ads until the ads are tied to the people on Facebook. Facebook knows what we’re into, put ads for those things onto our profiles and messages.

Second, how could the friends definitions and ties be improved?

1000 ways. I’ll be honest, I don’t use them at all. I just add you as a friend and don’t put any details in there about how I know you. For one, adding that kind of detail is a competitive advantage for me and for PodTech and not something I’m really anxious for other people to know.(…)

Finally, why Facebook, why now?

Well, I compare it to LinkedIn (which is the competitor that comes up the most in conversations), Twitter, Pownce, and Jaiku. All of which have a social network component where you can keep track of your friends. First, Facebook has far better contact management than Twitter, Pownce, Jaiku. If I look up someone on all three networks Facebook shows me more, brings it up faster, and has a better look into their own social networks. That leaves LinkedIn to compare it to. I dropped off LinkedIn a year ago cause the expected useage model there is to have your friends do things for you. Pass along resumes, give references, etc. (…) There is no such expectation on Facebook.(…)

To tell you the truth, the reason Facebook is the better networking tool is BECAUSE it’s personal. (…)

What other reasons are there for Facebook now?

Quality of people on the network. When I say my Facebook contact list is like a who’s who of the Tech Industry, I’m very serious. And I’m still adding more people to my friends network. I’ve been on Facebook for about a month and I’ve already gotten 2,452 friends. (…)

But, that brings us to the grand daddy. Facebook’s application platform.

This is the real reason why I turned on Facebook. I don’t really care about the social network piece. There’s already other places I can get that. (…) But now my social network brings me cool applications. Well, some cool ones, like iLike and Zoho. But a lot of really crappy ones. It’s interesting to see what people add to their profiles, though. I wish I could see when people remove things from their profiles, in addition to adding them. (…)

Anyway, it’s the application platform that got me interested in Facebook and THAT is where I expect to see the hot new advertising models pop up.

What it means: I’ve recently heard (or read) that you have to have a Facebook profile if you want to be taken seriously in the Valley and that it’s slowly (or quickly!) replacing LinkedIn as THE networking site for business. BTW, I’ve been beefing up my network recently and if you want to add me as a friend, click here. 🙂 I think that what’s happening is that personal and professional online social lives are merging. But I also think we’ll need to be able to create closed networks for friends & family as you don’t want to share everything with everyone. Finally, I think the fact that Facebook is a “closed” network (closed to search engines, that is) with a lot of traffic & social interactions makes it a credible threat to Google.