Publishers traditionally protect their assets, dragon-like, in an effort to offer their audience something fresh and unique. That model is now giving way to audience demand for an interactive content experience. It's time for online publishers to get a little kumbaya and embrace the open application programming interface (API).
“Have an elegant contextual integration between social media and your content,” KickApps CEO Alex Blum declared to publishers during a discussion about how to monetize social networks and communities at the Digital Innovators' Summit 2010 in Berlin.
To do that, publishers are working with the APIs of various “it” social platforms. So how does an API work? An open API is an interface with a set of functions for a software system, cloud-based, that allows developers to create the seamless relationship between a publishing brand and social platforms such as Facebook that Blum suggested.
In response to the question of how publishers were supposed to keep up with the ever-evolving Facebook—a platform riddled with redesigns and third-party applications—Facebook, Germany, commercial director Scott Woods stressed the importance of developers in the publishing process.
According to an Inside Facebook post, Facebook use in Germany between February and March saw a nearly 16 percent uptick—growing by over one million users to reach 7,737,080 in March—so Woods is likely aware of the need for publishers to plug into what they may see as the Brat Prince Facebook.
But with all that unique content, publishers are poised to create and sell useful applications, games and other interactive content to place on platforms like Facebook, which has 400 million global users, according to Woods. eMedia Vitals' Sean Blanda recently tweeted from South by Southwest that mobile news applications are garnering longer user engagement than games (“nearly 10 minutes per session”). Woods advised asking users what they expect from you and what they're doing on your site in order to blend your media brand into user activities.
“You have to change with the constantly evolving platform,” offered Woods, advising online publishers and their developers that Facebook has launched a road map for developers, both long- and short-term. Google Wave, Twitter and most other social platforms also make their APIs available to developers, in order to encourage engagement from media and e-commerce businesses.
“What it comes down to, publishers, is that you must unclench your hoard of content gems and trust that users want a community-based approach to content,” said Woods. “[It's about] getting users closer to your brand.”