Social Media Saves Business 2.0 Magazine (for now)!

Just got an e-mail from my friend Colin. According to Owen Thomas from Valleywag, it looks like Business 2.0 magazine is saved for now! Owen writes:

Business 2.0, up until late yesterday, was unquestionably in the process of shutting down. Columnists had been told not to bother turning anything in for October. Staffers — both those whom Time Inc. hoped to retain, and those not on the favored lists — had been seeking other employment. And a squad of higher-ups at Time Inc. had set travel plans to fly out to California to finish shutting the magazine down.

And now, most of those travel plans have been cancelled. Employees have been asked to stay to work on the October issue, and freelancers have been assigned pieces. And, I can only imagine as the fellow who used to write these things, hurried revisions are being made to a valedictory editor’s letter. It’s good news of the exceedingly inconvenient kind.

As of last night, Time Inc. execs have decided to enter into some form of due diligence with prospective buyers, and keep the magazine alive while it considers the dozen or so offers it’s received. (Want to buy a magazine? It’s not too late to throw your hat in the ring: send email to Maurice Edelson, the VP who’s running the sale process.)

The question, though, is why? Did social media save the magazine? Perhaps so, in a roundabout way. The Facebook group “I Read Business 2.0 — and Want to Keep Reading!” numbers more than 2,000 people, but that’s hardly enough for Time Inc. honchos, who deal with magazine circulations numbering in the millions to pay notice. But Facebook, with its early-adopter audience, may have proved an ideal way to get the attention of serious prospective buyers.

What it means: Wow! Time Inc. just realized they had tremendous assets with this magazine, the writers and the readers. Did social media save Business 2.0 magazine? It’s too early to tell. Did social media give Business 2.0 a reprieve? I believe so. I think social media (in this case Facebook, blogging and Techmeme) played an important role as an amplifier (see my chronology of events here). Thanks to everyone who joined the Facebook group and posted comments in the Wall. Thanks to every blogger and journalist out there who relayed the news. Without you, Business 2.0 would not be publishing its October issue. Thanks again!!!

I am Media: From Theory to Practice in 6 Days

Remember last Saturday morning when I shouted “I am media”? Want to know what happened since then? I accidentally went from theory to practice… 🙂

Robert Scoble picked up my post and confirmed my theory. My blog received 10 times more traffic than usual for two days and I’ve had many interesting conversations during the weekend. I also added many friends to Facebook, Pownce and Linkedin.

And just when I thought that wave had subsided, the magic of Facebook connected Colin Carmichael and I on Tuesday morning and put us on a mission to save Business 2.0 magazine. Alerted by my status update feed, Colin created a Facebook group dedicated to this cause and we started leveraging social media to create some buzz around the group. You can read the chronology of these events here.

The group now has about 1075 members. We’ve been adding 1 member every five minutes since the launch and all of the major industry influencers have joined the group. Since the launch, we’ve received coverage from the following major media/blogs:

Valleywag, “Facebook to the rescue!

Advertising Age, “Can Fans Save Business 2.0?

San Francisco Chronicle, “Save Business 2.0

GigaOm, “Saving Business 2.0, Facebook Style

Fast Company, “Can A Social Network Save Business 2.0?

Washington Post, “Trying to Save A Magazine Through Facebook

San Jose Mercury News, “Facebook group hopes to save Business 2.0

Business 2.0, “Can Facebook Save Business 2.0?”

I even got mentioned by name in the San Jose Mercury News article! Many Business 2.0 readers have had the chance to express their love for the magazine, many subscriptions have been sold and some people even registered on Facebook just to be part of the group! I think we’ve already made a difference in the lives of the Business 2.0 team. I think there’s a lot of things we can learn from this experience especially about the various social media vehicles working together but I’m still digesting as this is an ongoing process. It’s been a good ride so far. What a week.

One thing’s for sure: I am media!

Chronology of a Successful Facebook Group: The “Save Business 2.0″ Example

Efforts to save Business 2.0 magazine via a Facebook group are going very well. We currently have 500 members (including a large number of tech influencers) after only two days and we’re getting traction in multiple media (ValleyWag, Advertising Age, Fast Company and a variety of blogs).

As the “Official ‘Save Business 2.0’ blogger”, here’s my theory of what I think happened to get to this result as quickly.

1) I was the original sneezer after seeing the New York Times article talking about the potential shutdown of the magazine. I wrote a Facebook status update that said “Sebastien is sad to think Business 2.0 magazine might fold in September”. As I’m using Facebook for networking and I’ve been adding many friends since Robert Scoble talked about me last Saturday, I reach out to 250+ “friends” with my update.

2) One of my friends, Colin Carmichael, picks up the news via my status update, decides to create the group and invites me.

Gmail

3) I blog about the group in the Praized blog.

Praized blog - Business 2.0

4) My blog post gets picked up by Techmeme and is attached to the original New York Times article. It’s the first broadcast about the creation of the Facebook group.

Techmeme

5) Someone from Business 2.0 (or someone close to the team) finds my blog post via Techmeme and sees that Colin has created a group.

6) A good portion of the Business 2.0 staff, freelancers and former employees joins the group. All these people are important influencers. As quoted by Advertising Age, “Editor in Chief Josh Quittner said he signed up for the group as a purely reflexive emotional gesture. “It choked me up — an old cynic like me,” he said.”

7) Close friends and business acquaintances (other tech journalists & bloggers) are invited to joined the group via the Facebook “Join this group” function.

Facebook Join this group

8) As the Silicon Valley tech crowd is a tightly-knit group, they quickly reach out to their peers who then join the group.

9) In the meantime, I try to fan the flames using Digg and Linkedin. Digg does not work but Linkedin contributes to the conversation.

Digg Facebook Business 2.0

linkedin.jpg
12) In the meantime, Colin talks with many media about the group and its purpose.

10) Valleywag picks up the news, sends it to another level.

11) Group members continue to invite other influencers, Advertising Age picks up the news, reaching a more mainstream marketing population.

12) Snowball effect is in action as we get more and more media/blog coverage, more people joining and more people inviting other people. 48 people added themselves to the group while I was writing this post.

13) What’s next? Business 2.0 is saved? Let’s continue the movement and save the magazine!

Now, this is just my theory. I think Colin and I played an important role by starting all of this but I think Techmeme played a critical relay role. And I think the use of the viral functionalities of Facebook by the influencers who joined the group in the early hours played a critical role as well. In addition, what I find fascinating is that we’ve had many people tell us that a) they created their Facebook account to be able to join the group and b) they ended up subscribing to the magazine after seeing the news and the efforts to save it. If that’s not the power of social media…

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.