Social Leaderboard: March Results

How much social traffic did the top 50 web publishers attract in March?  The results are in – and it is a mixed month.

More Social Traffic

Measuring by total visits, March was the second highest month on record for social traffic to the top publishers.  The number of social (Facebook + Twitter) visits to the top 50 grew by 2.9% in March to 403 million.

But a Smaller Piece of the Pie

Volume growth aside, social’s share of traffic to the top 50 dropped slightly, dipping by 0.3% in March.  That’s because even while traffic from social grew, it didn’t grow as fast as traffic from other sources.

What gives?  It’s possible that each and every one of the top publishers’ social media teams was distracted last month by March Madness and solar flares.  It’s also possible that Facebook’s aggressive mobile push is putting downward pressure on this measurement (the comScore data we use for benchmarking overall site traffic doesn’t include mobile traffic, alas).

The Contenders:  NBC climbs, Us Magazine falls, and Wetpaint stays on top

The solar flares must have been particularly distracting to one publisher’s social team: Us Magazine continued its downward slide, falling out of the top 5 entirely this time after dropping last month from 3rd to 5th.

NBC is on a roll, climbing up another rung (after jumping two spots ahead in February) to #2 on the leaderboard.  NFL also ran the ball for an impressive number of yards, moving from #9 to #5.

Wetpaint Entertainment continued to hold a definitive lead, outperforming the closest rival by 9.3 percentage points.  We’re able to maintain this lead by constantly improving our proprietary social analytics and distribution system through rapid experimentation and a deep understanding of our audience.  The amazing thing is that our social growth has not come at the expense of search traffic.  Indeed, our search traffic has been rising as a result of our social success, and total traffic has recently hit record highs of 10 million uniques and more.

And we’re not done yet – social users are the most valuable users, and we want more.

Living Up To Your Social Potential: How Much Social Traffic Should You Be Getting?

If you’re Buzzfeed and your raison d’etre is to find and distribute viral content, then it’s fair to assume that you should be getting the majority of your traffic from social (and indeed, they do).  But what if you’re Parenting Magazine?  Or Consumer Reports?

While we know that social traffic is increasing as a referral source for publishers, it stands to reason that social traffic would be more relevant to some publishers and less to others.  When I search “how to get rid of a purple rash,” I may find an extremely useful article on WebMD (and I may even forward it to a friend with a similar problem).  But am I going to post it to my Facebook wall?  Doubtful.

If you’re a publisher, you know how much social traffic you are drawing right now.  But how much should you be drawing, relative to your competitors?  To know this, we need to understand what types of content are highly shareable (and which are less so).

Pew Research studied the distribution of topics on Twitter and compared them with the distribution in traditional news sources.  To add one more dimension, I broke down the Most Shared Articles on Facebook in 2011 by topic and threw those into the mix.

The conclusions are striking:

  • Facebook users Like pop culture, parenting and weirdness.
  • Twitter hearts tech.
  • Traditional news content lines up barely at all with social sharing.

None of this is to say that traditional news isn’t getting social traffic; in fact, 53% of Facebook’s Top 40 came from four very traditional news sources: CNN, New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal.  But while much of the most shareable content comes from newspapers, the average story ends up pretty lonely.

As for the most-shared topics, if you’re a publisher on the subject of parenting, you should be rolling in Facebook traffic.  SEVEN of the top 40 shared articles on Facebook are about parenting (e.g. “How to Talk to Little Girls” and “Dads, Wake the Hell Up!”)  If you’re a tech news publisher, well, Twitter wants to take you out for a lobster dinner and introduce you to his parents.

The wheels are greased, but are these publishers living up to their social potential?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s just say there’s room for improvement.

GigaOM gets a shockingly small amount of social traffic for a specialty publisher directly aligned with the interests of social users.  Parents.com fares better and beats traditional news, but lags far behind People (even though parenting as a topic is 2x more shareable on Facebook than celebrity news).

I would venture to say, of course, that ALL of these publishers should be getting more social traffic than they are right now (traditional news and celebrity gossip included).  But if you’re lagging behind other publishers with less shareable content, you especially need to get smarter about using distribution channels like Facebook and Twitter.  The social networks are ready for you – are you ready for them?

At Wetpaint, we’ve been rapidly ramping up our social traffic (from 14% to well over 20% in the last two months) by constantly refining our social distribution system.   Having content that lines up with what people like to share is only half the battle; you need to be savvy about packaging and delivering that content into the social feed.  That takes not only a great editorial savvy to understand your audience, but a tech mindset to help get it into the social groove.

Now that’s good news for GigaOM, Parents.com, and everyone else as well:  Your content is highly shareable.  Don’t let it go to waste.

Shining the Spotlight on the Audience, Not the Stage

Alex Weinstein (@alexweinstein) is the Director of Product at Wetpaint and the author of the Technology + Entrepreneurship blog where he explores data-driven decision making in the face of uncertainty. Prior to Wetpaint, Weinstein led technology initiatives in Microsoft Live Labs.

Every day, we go to our favorite news outlets and get our fix. We land on the same familiar sites. We seek out the kind of news that fits our fancy. We casually share the most interesting news with our friends – over dinner or online. And, tomorrow, it starts all over again.

Why? What motivates us to watch the daily news, read an opinion in a magazine, and come back to a favorite TV show? For content creators and distributors, it’s easy to think that it’s all about the content.  This view is based on the notion that people desire the intrinsic value of content, such as the knowledge hidden in a report, or the laugh they experience from a comedy sketch.  But this idea is too flat, and it ignores a more powerful force that’s at work, and that drives the tremendous confluence among target populations when it comes to what they read.

Indeed, in many cases, a deeply human driver is far more valuable than the information itself. And that driver is the desire to be a valuable, appreciated member of a group.

As the graphic below shows, this desire maps directly to Maslow’s pyramid of human needs – the need for esteem.

(diagram from NYTimes – http://ideas.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/07/16/revising-maslows-pyramid/)

After taking this pyramid or hierarchy of needs in, it becomes clear that, as publishers, we must pay attention to the amount of influence, respect, and social value that audiences are able to earn from their friends after consuming content.

Let’s look at a few examples.

For World of Warcraft geeks, a news article on a long-tail site that covers the latest artifacts is true gold – because it will help them be the most informed in the eyes of their guild.

For fans of Bachelorette, watching the latest episode is very much about having a water cooler conversation about it next day – and the potential social connection that brings.

For Politico readers, it’s about exerting influence on their Facebook friends after they share a controversial editorial.

And, for Lolcats readers, it’s about making their friends laugh for the umpteenth time with a new, undiscovered photo.

Each of these examples is about social influence and social esteem.

Here’s the take-away for publishers in all of this: a key component of the value of the 21st century media company is about helping audiences gain the attention of their social circles.

This represents a radical shift from what we’ve seen over the past decades.

Instead of trying to capture and direct the reader’s attention (“Look at my 100-year-old brand! I curate the world and know best what you should look at!”), the publisher becomes a back-stage prompter, helping readers utter the words that will make them the center of attention among those they care about. The reader can then become an even stronger influencer, or taste-maker.

Every time a friend consumes something that you’ve read, you’ve successfully directed their attention. Your social bank account just became more valuable. And every time publishers help make this transaction seamless and smooth, they are helping you earn some social gold.

This is why Washington Post Social Reader and Yahoo Social are such smashing hits.

Readers want to consume content within these apps, because of the feedback loop from their friends.  (“Hey, I saw you read this article, and I read it, too.”) This is a self-reinforcing pattern that creates social value for all the participants. These publishers, and Facebook’s timeline apps, put audiences first; and, in the process, they generate an ever-increasing amount of social value for readers.

Note that curation and brand very much play into this the social value generation; nobody wants their friends to be misinformed or displeased by media that they endorsed. Content is still king.

If, say, the Washington Post wanted to take this experience to the next level, it could make curation even more personalized. Instead of telling readers that they must care about the Russian presidential election via a big front-page photo – completely ignoring the fact that sharing this knowledge will drive zero social value to its readers – the Post could cater to the unique values of each reader. To do so, it could measure the social response from the reader’s audience – and then personalize the content based upon this response. It’s essential to point out, however, that the reader’s interest – and the response of his or her audience – are not mutually exclusive; a smart personalization algorithm will take both of these factors into account.

That said, in the end, publishers must awaken to the fact that social influence and social esteem are key matters for their audiences today.

How To Use Facebook’s Open Graph To Build Your Business

This article was published as a guest post at PaidContent, and is republished here for Digital Quarters readers.

Last year, it became clear that Facebook is well on its way to becoming a social operating system underlying our digital lives.  And the enhanced Facebook Open Graph makes that vision a reality.

My company, Wetpaint, was fortunate to participate in a beta phase with Facebook and be a launch partner with The Washington Post (NYSE: WPO) social reader project; in the process, we have gotten a glimpse of how to build media for a fully social web, and it’s had a dramatic impact on our business.

We have learned that without question, there is a ton to be gained in audience acquisition, branding, and retention by integrating into the Open Graph.  And, based on the few months’ head start we’ve had, I wanted to provide a brief guide to what has worked, and explain how to take full advantage of the Open Graph.

Here, then, are the four most important elements:

1. Determine what’s inherently social in what you do for your audience – This is the most important part, and it’s not easy, because people don’t want to share everything they read online.  Rather, they share the things that are helpful to others, or contribute to their public identity.

Don’t fight it.  Work with it, instead.  Provide content your audiences will use to define themselves and enhance their reputations as a curator.  With your content, what specifically can they share, and what can it say about them?

I especially like this item from a cousin who recently posted this recipe for fried Coke (what? oh yes!).  If you think it means she’s a southern gourmet, you’d be right:  she makes the best fried chicken I’ve ever had. And posting recipes like this makes sure we all know about her decadent down-home style.

People also respond to things that make them smile.  Who wouldn’t like a picture of a cat laughing with a dinosaur?  Sharing it makes a statement about what gems you can find, what loops you’re in, what makes you chuckle, and that you like brightening your friends’ day.

We are thumbs-up with things that back our opinions, or show we are in the know about things that are important to how we want to be perceived. For a news site, this means interests and causes that we want to support; and, for a sports site, it’s our tribal badging and admiration of teams and players.

And for games, movies, and events, it’s more about sharing something special together. Whether a concert or a conference, convening with others turns content into an experience. The phenomenon of Social TV that we see at Wetpaint, and throughout all TV programming, is proof positive that media events are made to be shared.

2. Start thinking in verbs – other than “Like” – To date, publishers have been focused on the page.  Now it’s time to think about the interaction – not just with the page, but with the content.  Think in verbs.  Facebook has suggested a handful of obvious ones.  Your audience should “watch” videos; “listen to” songs; and “read” articles.  But beyond that, you can also add your own creative alternatives:  “view” photo galleries, “lust for” celebrities, “OMG” scenes on TV, “vote for” reality TV contestants.  All of these help define a relationship between your audience and what they love.  And as a publisher, you get to take credit for that introduction and its viral distribution among a user’s circle.

3. Own objects, not just content – In the now-more-open Open Graph world, the objects of our affections are no longer just dumb pages.  Rather, you can define objects in the real-world – with the promise of improving Facebook’s and your audience’s connections to them, and to you.  As with the examples above, the limit of what you can define is constrained only by your creativity; however, the focus should be on objects that are natural social extensions of your consumer experience.  Don’t try to socialize objects that no one wants to share – I don’t want to circulate that I “zero balanced” my “bank account.”

4. Live in Facebook’s world – It’s not really just Zuckerberg’s world … it’s your users’ world, too.  500 million Facebook users are logging in every day, and spend seven hours per month (on average) on Facebook.  That’s why it’s important to create an experience that blends with the social world; and that experience needs to be connected, and in real-time. The more you integrate into Facebook’s clearing house, the more you can benefit from seamless transitions, access to connected user data, and user expectations of implicit sharing.  Facebook Connect is critical; as is earning the Likes to be in a relationship with your audience.  When you do that, you can program your users’ news feeds.  At Wetpaint, we average 30 impressions per fan per month.  I’ve never had that much communication in any of my relationships with friends or family (much to my mother’s dismay, which she reminds me of all the time), yet our consumers have it with us all year long.  And, beyond the news feed, creating a Facebook canvas app (we’re working on a new one now) means you can truly be everywhere your audience wants you to be – both in Facebook and on the Web.

With the new Open Graph features, a short-term way of thinking about the opportunity is that you are integrating into Facebook’s technical architecture.  But a far more meaningful – and, ultimately, more beneficial – way of thinking about it for both your users and your business is that you are integrating into your users’ lives.

I overheard someone at last year’s F8 event say that Facebook is no longer “Face”-book, it’s really becoming “Life”-book.  It’s that level of integration with real life that can create the most powerful opportunities for the next era of the Web.

Introducing Rebooting Media: The Digital Publishing Revolution for a Fully Social Web

This is the first in a series of 10 posts about the future of the media industry contained in a report titled:  Rebooting Media: The Digital Publishing Revolution for a Fully Social Web.


As Don Graham, Chairman and CEO of The Washington Post Company, recently remarked on-stage at a conference of leading CEO’s, the media industry as we have known it for the last 100 years is collapsing. The basic structure of our industry – content creation, packaging, distribution, and monetization – have shifted so substantially that the rug has literally been pulled out from underneath media’s business model.

A new model must be created – and the DNA of the medium itself has been irreversibly altered so that it is now innately social.

And yet, in the midst of this upheaval, I’ve found that even the brightest and most well informed strategies are able to tap only part of media’s new nature and capture just a slice of the industry’s remaking.

At a time like this, to get a complete picture of the territory ahead, there is nothing wiser than integrating perspective from the best and brightest people in the publishing world.  And, over the course of the last several years, I’ve been immensely grateful for those leaders’ intelligence and vision.

So, I thought it was only fitting to help create the ultimate social network – one that will enable our industry to share the smartest ideas as it remakes digital media.

That’s what this compendium is all about.

Rebooting Media: The Digital Publishing Revolution for a Fully Social Web brings together eight of the most thoughtful influencers and offers their most cogent assessment of the new online relationship-building that is helping to connect people in absolutely unprecedented ways.

Together, these eight contributors reinforce three dominant themes:

Building a media brand on the new social Web means that publishers have to meet consumers where, when and how they want. It’s all about user-driven pull, and publishers need to offer experiences and establish relationships that may not be on their own terms.

Facebook is a transformative platform driving new personalization and connectivity across the upstart social Web. We are still waiting to see all of what Facebook ultimately becomes, but we know it represents a once-in-a-generation paradigm shift.

Any way you look at it, search (as we know it) is declining. The open sharing of social networks, and the power of social endorsement, are seriously altering what consumers look for on the Web, and how we’re engaging with content. The search algorithm has lost out – big time – to the will of the audience.

But the most powerful insights are in the essays that follow from each of our eight contributors.

Jeff Berman (@bermanjeff), General Manager of Digital Media for the NFL and Buddy Media board member, talks about how Facebook is eclipsing search.

Greg Clayman (@Clayman), Publisher of The Daily, explains why Facebook is taking sharing to a whole new level.

Jason Hirschhorn (@JasonHirschhorn), Curator of Media ReDEFined, considers the element of surprise in social media.

Lewis DVorkin (@lewisdvorkin), Chief Product Officer at Forbes Media, discusses how he’s tearing down the walls that traditional media built.

Anthony Soohoo (@anthonysoohoo), Co-Founder & CEO of Rumpus and former SVP & GM of Entertainment at CBS Interactive, focuses on the way that the people-powered Web is changing innovation.

Wenda Harris Millard, President of Media Link LLC, advances the notion of a new personal recommendation engine on today’s Web.

Erik Flannigan (@butterking), EVP of Digital Media at MTV Networks Entertainment, shows how to build great relationships with social media fan bases.

Theresia Gouw Ranzetta (@tgr), a Partner at Accel Partners, zeroes in on the way that ecommerce is blazing a trail for social Web publishers.

I have already learned a lot from each of these people and their pieces, and I hope you do, too – not only to build your own ideas, but to help our industry move forward. To that end, I invite further conversation with me, and with our contributors.

The digital dialogue is so essential as we all work to re- invent publishing for 21st century audiences. 

 

To download the complete report, please click here:  Rebooting Media: The Digital Publishing Revolution for a Fully Social Web

6 Lessons For the Key Players In New Media

This post was originally as a contributed piece to Fortune.  It is republished here for Digital Quarters readers.

Tech’s top firms — from Apple and Google to Amazon and Netflix — are vying to reshape media with different game plans. Here’s what they each need to know.

Digital media has the power to change the world. Actually mastering this 21st century business (and art) is unbelievably hard, however. That begs the question: The top media companies all know they need to make changes — but how do they find the right change and execute well? Let’s look at this question through the lens of six key players in the digital media revolution.

Apple (AAPL): Transform the rest of our digital experience.
It may seem arrogant to give advice to the one company that has surprised everyone again and again by being light years ahead of the industry — as well as the consumer. Yet, in a new era of leadership, the most important thing for Apple will be holding on to Jobs’ core values and strength. As corporate leaders go, Jobs was always the best change agent on the planet, and he was never willing to accept the status quo. That’s why Apple is a perennial leader when it comes to devices and distribution for premium media content like music and movies.

The Apple crew must extend its golden touch to the rest of the digital media device world. It’s time to supply the living room with a first-class TV experience; and to seamlessly flow all entertainment between the mobile, iPad, TV, and desktop worlds. AirPlay, iCloud, and AppleTV aren’t all the way there yet. Apple’s next challenge is to make devices that leap forward and bring entertainment and applications wherever I am, and to know me as one person across all of these environments. To do so — and to do so well — will take a huge imagination. And, even without Jobs himself, it’s clear that if anyone can do it, it’s still Apple.

Facebook: Be everywhere the consumer is.
More than any other company on the Web — even Apple — Facebook has changed the nature of digital experiences. It’s already established itself as the dominant social operating system for consumer audiences. And yet it has the potential to go much, much farther. If you need more proof, just this month Facebook announced that it will be facilitating the spread of mobile applications, not to mention linking into them — finally bridging the gap between Web and app. It’s invading Apple iOS’ and Google Android’s territory, providing the cross-application linkages that have always unequivocally been the job of an operating system.

Increasingly, Facebook has the opportunity to wire consumers, applications, data and devices together. But for Facebook to do this, Mark Zuckerberg will need the kind of imagination that Steve Jobs had. Indeed, Zuckerberg will have to imagine a whole new ecosystem, this time one where Facebook facilitates all connectivity. He’s proven he can execute already. But can he take on a vision this big?

Google (GOOG): “What got you here won’t get you there.”
This trademark phrase from Wetpaint COO Rob Grady is particularly apt in Google’s case. Google is the undisputed king of finding answers to questions — as long as they’re being asked from desktop and laptop computers. But when it comes to applying its great search strength to mobile environments, tablet devices and communications, Google is still lost. While the Android operating system is clearly one of the winners, it doesn’t give Google the essential financial success in mobile that it has on the desktop. Google needs to reinvent itself. It needs to make a bold “burn-the-bridges” move, adopting a Reed Hastings-like philosophy that the company cannot rely on search alone. Only, in Google’s case, it’s even harder.

Here’s why: Hastings had already clearly identified the next wave’s product at Netflix (NFLX) — streaming video over the Internet — but Google has to find a new vision altogether. This is not to say that Google needs to exit the search market by any means. But, instead, it must reinvent its own search portfolio, the way Intel (INTC) reinvented the microprocessor generation after generation, always allowing its newest chip to put the last one out of business, before the competition did. Indeed, Intel’s sustained success was built, in part, on destroying what worked and replacing it with something that worked even better. Google’s new vision should surely have three components: mobile, search and social. The good news is that, thanks to Android, Google already has A+ platforms to build on the first two.

But search needs to get beyond the query box, and the mobile device can be more than a phone plus PDA. Google’s challenge — and its opportunity — is to reinvent it as a completely connected device that is woven into the fabric of daily living. It should know where I am, who I’m with, and what I’m doing — or at least have some educated guesses. It should make the next interface leap that helps us leave the thumbs behind. And, it should be a digital companion that picks up on environmental cues and helps me live my digital life. Siri has opened our imagination; but Google has amazing voice recognition, algorithmic and platform strength to accomplish these things. Now it sorely needs to understand people. That’s the most pressing — and most problematic — task for Larry Page and his team in 2012.

Amazon (AMZN): Fully bridge digital media and commerce.
If Facebook is the ultimate platform for social connectivity, it’s pretty clear that Amazon should be the ultimate platform for media and commerce. Amazon has already made amazing progress in redefining itself. It started as a bookseller, became a retailer, began representing other retailers and, most importantly, has morphed into a media and device company. And, as if that’s not enough, its Web Services power tons of other companies that make the Internet fascinating.

That said, a scattershot approach won’t help Amazon become the single defining platform that bridges digital media and commerce. Amazon has tremendous assets in its catalogue, in terms of both physical and digital goods. And it also has devices that give it a unique channel to the consumer — for the time being, at least. But to fulfill its true potential, Amazon needs to extend its platform all the way to commercial transactions, wherever they happen.

Beyond digital goods, Amazon should be working on digital currency and customer management; an acquisition of Square would be a tremendous accelerator here, and it would ultimately help Jeff Bezos and his team power transactions wherever in the world they take place. What Facebook is to our social transactions, Amazon should be to our commercial ones — an OS for commerce. Indeed, Amazon has the opportunity to provide OpenTable-like services, for all commerce, not just for the restaurant industry. It’s already got the goods and the customer relationships. <ow it just needs the focus on the bigger opportunity.

Yahoo (YHOO): Decide what the brand really stands for.
On one hand, Yahoo is the most impressive all-digital media company there is. It has tremendous access to a huge audience of consumers, a broad product portfolio, an unrivaled heritage as a first-generation superstar and a unique reach into Asia. And yet, it’s also the most disappointing digital media company in the marketplace, so much so that its brand increasingly stands for nothing in particular to most of its audience.

Of late, attention has been focused on Yahoo from a financial point of view. But whoever eventually buys the company must look beyond integration, splitting and cost cutting. Instead, the acquirer will have to figure out what to do with Yahoo’s core. And it all comes down to one key question: What can Yahoo provide to its audience to earn their attention every day?

To date, the hook has been email. Yahoo Mail is responsible for about 75% of Yahoo’s media traffic. But Yahoo Mail isn’t growing. In the last year, it shrank slightly (<1 %), according to data from comScore. So, for Yahoo, the choices are to innovate in communication to leapfrog Gmail, Skype, and the lot; or else to do the hard work and start figuring out again what Yahoo really stands for. The company has great roots. It has a natural brand for serendipitous discovery, for fun and interesting news to make your day. The bottom line is that Yahoo should be able to execute on both the options listed above, hopefully without waiting for the financial dust to settle.

Washington Post (WPO): Re-inventing media’s most ravaged category.
If we had to name the most ravaged sector of media, it would certainly have to be newspapers. Don Graham recently said the industry is “collapsing.” But, he’s not just watching it happen; he’s actively and energetically intervening. I’ve been incredibly impressed by the way Graham and his team are up for re-inventing the category, especially as I’ve talked to other organizations that are nearly paralyzed. Instead, WaPo is applying the greatest growth trend of the Internet — social media — to its business. With its inordinately valuable and trusted brand at stake in the Washington Post, the risks are clearly high. Rather than acting out of fear, Don and his Chief Digital Officer, Vijay Ravindran, are taking aggressive advantage of opportunities to engage, grow and retain their core audience. At the same time, they’re downshifting to the younger audience that just isn’t buying newspapers. The Washington Post Social Reader is the flagship example, and it’s a bold move to jump ahead of the consumer and create a new experience for people that they didn’t know they needed, all on the social Web. [Full disclosure: My company Wetpaint works with the Post.]

We will see other awesome and amazing talents emerge in digital media over the next decade. These greats-in-the-making will help build on the staggering changes that technological change has wrought.

Facebook’s New Media DNA

Credit: James Duncan Davidson/O'Reilly Media, Inc

For a company that has sworn it’s a communications utility, and not a media company, Facebook sure does have some outstanding media talent on its Board of Directors.

Included, of course, is The Washington Post Company’s Don Graham, who is successfully bridging the print and digital generations.

And Now Reed Hastings of Netflix.

I’m wondering whether Mark Zuckerberg has changed his mind, or whether something different is going on.

And, as I’m thinking over what an increasingly social world means, I’m asking myself whether a communications utility is really any different from a media company.

The answer may be “no.”

Here’s why: Increasingly, the “distribution” part of media is being handled by lots of point distributors, each passing along to their own network, rather than by big companies that own dedicated equipment or spectrum like newspapers and broadcasters did.

And, as for content creation, we all know it’s gone from an oligarchy of anointed editorial sources to legions of content creators and commenters.

For Reed Hastings, he has a ton to learn from Zuckerberg about how to re-imagine content creation and distribution.  But Hastings, for his part, can help Zuckerberg learn how to rapidly build and scale a powerful business model that is increasingly playing in the world of content.

After all, no matter how Facebook likes to think of itself, it’s increasingly in the business of connecting audience to content.

So, that pretty much makes it a media company.

However the company defines itself, though, it’s clear to see that Facebook is playing a key role in digital media’s evolving model.  And it’s a smart of Mark Z. to learn from Hastings – who is one of the best in the world at innovating to serve today’s consumers in new and untold ways.