University of Minnesota researcher Christine Greenhow and her team released their findings based on analytics of interaction with The Minnesota Daily Facebook Application today. For those new to the project, it was a Knight Foundation funded application built by NewsCloud in collaboration with The Minnesota Daily, a college paper I was editor of last year. This wasn’t the only application built by NewsCloud, but one that focused on a niche geographic area and topic: news and issues surrounding the University of Minnesota community.
Some of the key findings are echoed in a recent post by Steve Rubel who wrote a post about the next great media company won’t have a website, but will likely be an application or some form of publication directly on a social site. The key things that stand out to me is that the Facebook application was not only able to attract “influentials” to engage and participate but that “as a vehicle to express opinions, stay informed, and connect with a local community, social media publications like The Daily may have an advantage over traditional news sites.” The best part is that this source code for the apps is open.
If you’re interested in the research, check out the full summary of the findings here (PDF). The data backing these findings up will be released later. Or here is an excerpt below:
1. Correlations between visits to social network sites and visits to news Web sites, as well as other online behaviors, suggest the potential of integrating applications like The Daily into young people’s online social networking routines.
2. As a vehicle to express opinions, stay informed, and connect with a local community, social media publications like The Daily may have an advantage over traditional news sites.
3. Interest in The Daily application’s focal topic — University of Minnesota community issues — increased. Daily users mostly used the application for what it was intended, namely, to engage them in campus-related issues.
4. The Daily application attracted a base of users who were already active in the community. The profile for these users and the high rate of viral invites, suggest that social media publications such as The Daily might not only attract “influentials,” but that these highly connected individuals will also invite their friends.
5. Examination of digital literacy practices reveals Daily users engaged in scanning stories rather than reading in full. Users participated in a range of non-school online reading and writing activities via social network sites, suggesting the potential for future applications.