Are Mashable Spreading Themselves Thin?

Mashable; ‘The Social Media Guide’, the monstrous mash-up blog that opened up the world of Social Media at the helm of Scottish born Pete Cashmore. The site quickly became the leading new media website in the world due to it being the most comprehensive and active Social Media News site of recent years.

As it has expanded in size, recruiting more and more writers from different journalistic backgrounds, it has made a transition into wider areas of Digital Technology where the competition is greater and the audience is larger.

Formally known as ‘The Social Media Guide’… Now that the slogan is no longer present on the site, what kind of site are Mashable now?

The Opportunity

Cashmore can see the opportunity with the amount of press and traffic his site receives daily. Therefore, maybe it should be leaping into reporting on all things digital/technical.
But could this transition be more of an innovative move by Cashmore; knowing that Social Media is losing the ‘what is social media’ factor that made his baby ever so popular in the first place?

Facebook recently achieved a landmark milestone in digital history, by reaching 500 million users. Funny, considering it was only a year ago that we were still trying to prove that Social Media wasn’t a fad.

The Transition

Mashable’s new 2010 re-design has dropped the tagline ‘The Social Media Guide’ and opened up it’s news wings to expand into all areas of digital technology.
It had been reporting on most new technology news since launch but had always put a social media spin on it.
Only recently, has it decided to devote a large portion of it’s articles to technology without the social fluff.

With all businesses, as you expand into other areas, you face more and more competition. Where you may dominate your specific niche (in this case Social Media); if you decide to focus on multiple areas, such as Web Technology, Mobile and Business for example, you will find yourself not only taking away the USP of your site, but also confusing your core market (which in this case im not too sure what that is for Mashable).

The Stats Never Lie

I tweeted about this exact topic recently and the response i received was interesting. A few replies highlighted that while the engagement on Mashable is low in comparison with their ‘share factor’, the point was raised that most people would rather share an article and discuss with their own network than comment directly within the article itself.

I guess that makes sense, and no-one can argue with their analytics, as it’s plain to see that Mashable receive some pretty dominating numbers.

However, as the place to visit for all new media information, wouldn’t you expect at least 0.01% of their 3 million daily page views to translate into more than their average of 16 comments per post?

Each of Mashable’s articles receive the best part of 1000 Twitter Retweets and the Facebook share’s are somewhat lower. For every 1000+ shares, we see an average of 16 comments, which to me indicates, that while we love to recycle content and share knowledge with our networks (for whatever ego boosting illusion of intelligence we want to create), as ‘Social Medium’s’, we chose to not pay much attention to the source.

Sharing Doesn’t Always Mean Caring

I’d love to investigate into this further and really challenge the concept of sharing articles and how does it really coincide with the definitive definitions of Social Media (if there is a definitive) or at least acknowledge that sharing doesn’t always go hand in hand with ‘engagement and interaction’.

If the King Kong site of Social Media is happy to knock out relentless articles daily and keep it’s followers sharing the content, but not directly engaging; in my opinion (and that’s all this is) Mashable is losing a severe amount of brand equity, as the amount of time their average reader actually spends on the site would be minimal.

The Reality

Mashable is a force, that is obvious. It’s writers know their stuff and while some of their articles are completely pointless the majority are informative and relevant.

But ask yourself this; when you visit Mashable what do you expect to find?

I can’t speak for anyone else, but do we really want to visit Mashable and see the same iPhone article that can be found on Tech Crunch, Engadget or Gizmodo?

Do we want to find Money and Finance information that we could see more comprehensively on Money Saving Expert? Do we want to watch the latest movie trailers in their Entertainment section?

Mashable is the site that made Social Media easy for people to understand and keep track of as it grew and grew.

Personally, while it’s great to be ‘that one site’ that tries to report on EVERYTHING going on in new media, at the same time, there is a huge area of confusion for the consumer.

Pete Cashmore explains in his interviews that Mashable started as a ‘mash-up’ of content on the Internet. Yet it’s tagline was Social Media and it became famous for being the Social Media Guide, not for being a source of all things digital.

I doubt Mashable will care whether it’s network interact on their website or share the content without thinking. As a business they are successful and no doubt their traffic brings ridiculous revenue; but it’s only a matter of time before the masses realise Mashable’s content isn’t as revolutionary as it used to be and people will get bored of retweeting the same recycled content.

Note:

If you are one of the thousands of people that Retweet Mashable’s article’s but don’t have an opinion.
Please stop. The whole world of Twitter is following Mashable and we all see their feed.
At least be creative and voice an opinion for sharing.

If this content inspired you, fill out your details and join me on my journey

  • mystalic

    Hey Luca, thanks for the feedback! It really does help us formulate our strategy and our editorial direction.

    With that said though, I do want to address some of your points:

    1) While comments on Mashable.com can range from nearly no comments to several hundred to our record of 12,518, most of the commenting and discussion around Mashable articles occurs off the site, and it's something we encourage. Take our Facebook fan pages: we post every article to one of our Facebook pages, and posts on the main feed can get 50 to 100+ comments there easy. We also facilitate discussions on Hacker News, Twitter, Google Buzz, Digg and dozens of other sources. We've come to realize that people like to discuss our stories on their favorite platforms, and we have no problem with that.

    2) Part of why we launched channels in business, entertainment, mobile, and others was because our readers told us they news and resources in those areas. Not only that, but we're providing readers the option to pick and choose which content they want to receive. If you just want social media news, you can just subscribe to our social media feed or our social media Twitter account. However, we've found most of our readers (a very diverse and broad group) also enjoy Apple news or development and design tips on top of social media news.

    We definitely keep all of the things you mentioned in mind though, and our goal is to continue to create high-quality, unique content that provides our readers with new insights.

    Thanks again,

    – Ben, Co-Editor of Mashable

    • http://www.iamluca.co.uk Luca

      Hi Ben,

      Thanks for taking the time to reply so quickly.

      I would just like to state, I have been a reader of Mashable since 2006, and back then things were very different.
      Even i had very little clue about how Digital would develop in the next few years.

      I have spent time understanding your site’s evolution and also like to give props to how much the site has achieved, which is always evident.

      I wrote this article not to challenge the business model or marketing strategy of Mashable, but to raise a concern as a customer that reads the site regularly.
      I spend most of my time on the web, analysing trends, stats and building relationships and networks.

      Mashable has always been a reliable source for easy read punchy content, that is perfect for sharing.
      However, it begs the question that if Mashable is reporting on business, entertainment and mobile now; where do you draw the line on what news you are reporting on?
      Are Mashable planning on introducing a ‘gaming’ section for example?

      In my opinion, your USP was based around being the comprehensive guide behind the social media boom.
      Yes i believe in expansion and everyone knows that Mashable has taken the new media spectrum by storm; but if i am highlighting this because i feel slightly confused by what the Mashable USP is and by what content is considered priority; then what do you guys at Mashable consider to be your core market?

      I can only speak in my own opinion and possibly those of the replies i received from my recent tweets and while i believe that you can never accustom each and every readers’ needs. I also believe it’s important not to alienate regular readers by with the goal of achieving a wider audience.

      I will take your comments into hand and sign up to the relevant feeds as directed.

      Thank you again for commenting Ben.

      Cheers

      Luca

  • ariannaodell

    Okay, so I just typed out an extensive comment, but then my computer freaked out and it got deleted – thus, proving my point I was trying to make the first time.

    Blog commenting takes so much more effort so many people (including me) don't do it even if they do read the blog, or have something to say.

    With blogs like Mashable, I refrain from posting comments, because I don't think anyone will read them – if I am going to take 5-10 minutes of my day to construct a comment worth reading, I want it to be read.
    In addition to not wanting to waste my time, I don't like everything I say to be indexed in Google with my name. Many times, I may not agree with someones opinion, but don't care to start a fight online about it.

    I read Mashable, I read your blog – I just don't comment. I think comments have little to do with the engagement as many people will share and converse about the article in their own social circle instead of with complete strangers in the comment section.

    I think that not just Mashable, but blogs in general don't have a high ratio of comments to views, as many people are too busy to take the time to fill out forms and catchup codes.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/iamluca iamluca

      Hi Arianna,

      Thanks for the response.

      The issue regarding commenting was just one of the points i raised and it was to highlight the ratio of visitors to commentors to to those who share the articles on Mashable.

      Commenting does take time and sharing doesn't take any time, which is the obvious answer as to why the ratio is so vast. But there is an underlying issue here that doesn't work across 'blogs in general' as you mentioned.

      Take http://www.quicksprout.com/ for example.

      This is a much more engaging blog and i'd put money on the dwell time for the average reader being well over 5 minutes.

      It's a formula consisting of what your content is, how often you post and how relevant the content is to the audience.

      This is where my discussion begins and is based around Mashable presenting in some cases, too much irrelevant content, too often and thus not targeting any specific niche of an audience.

  • http://twitter.com/jezhughes @jezhughes

    i see mashable's radio between RT's and 'Likes' to comments spread from of how those articles are digested and distributed. retweeting and 'liking' takes a second, where as reading and discussing takes minuets. I think the site serves great value to a lot of readers who want to immerse in technology; but for me its lost its voice in thought leading journalism.
    I find probably only about 10% of what's written on Mashable relevant and interesting these days, and my attention has gone to other sites who challenge and provide insightful commentary on the industry. Id personally like to see Mashable look to be more inspirational in the industry rather than just mirror whats going on now… everything it reports on feels to safe, rather than it flexing out and being ambitious with what's written.

    Maybe i've just gotten used to it.. respect to Ben for spotting this article though

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/iamluca iamluca

      Hey there Jez,

      I follow you on twitter; out of interest, how did you come across this article?

      I want to quote what you said in your comment as it is an extremely valid point:

      "I find probably only about 10% of what's written on Mashable relevant and interesting these days, and my attention has gone to other sites who challenge and provide insightful commentary on the industry."

      I have to agree with you here, and i too find myself visiting multiple other blogs and sites for more in depth articles on new media.

      We are in that stage of digital where we now know about new technology because everyone is reporting on it. We are comfortable using it and it's hardly hot news to discuss a new feature on facebook or a rising site like foursquare.
      Therefore, articles reporting any of the above just don't cut the mustard anymore for intensive reading.

      This is where the transition between being 'the social media guide' as Mashable was, and becoming a total mix of digital technology and business news. If they were merely social media, it would begin to decline in the same way Myspace has.

      We demand more; we seek for further insight and want our brains to be pushed without having to read recycled content or irrelevant news. Some of which i wonder how it makes the home page of a major site as a 'trending story.' I guess, money talks on a lot of these articles.

      I'd like to hear any further insight you have and hope to continue chatting via twitter.

      Thanks again.

  • marlon

    luca can u train me up 2 be like u in the game world call a man 07951700323 marlon

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/iamluca iamluca

      Marlon,

      Send me an email with any inquiry.

      info@iamluca.co.uk

      Thanks