ABC and Facebook: Underwhelming

by Mathew on December 7, 2007

Updates from Michael Learmonth at Silicon Alley Insider and from Adam Ostrow at Mashable show that ABC’s election-coverage deal with Facebook isn’t exactly setting any records in terms of participation from members of the social network. Learmonth says that the application has just over 10,000 daily users, and Mashable says it only has a little over 8,000 — about 3 per cent of the total who signed up.

So what does this mean? It could mean nothing. Maybe the application just sucks, or maybe it doesn’t really take advantage of Facebook and how a social network operates — I took a look at it, and while it allows you to support a particular politician and read the news, it doesn’t do a whole lot other than that. The ABC Politics page is more useful, in the sense that you can join in debates (vote on issues) and follow ABC reporters. Several of the questions asked have close to 10,000 responses, which isn’t bad.

Maybe 8,000 to 10,000 people is a respectable number for signups to the ABC app (although it doesn’t look like much next to the 50 million people who are on Facebook). Or maybe it’s too early, and not enough people are aware that it’s even there. One other explanation, of course, is that the social network “is made up of kids who would rather play Xbox and “poke” each other than read the news,” as one commenter at Silicon Alley put it.

Is that true? I’m not sure it is, as I mentioned when the ABC app was first announced. Plenty of groups have gotten a fair bit of traction for political concerns and issues (although I’m not sure I would include the “Stephen Colbert for President” group in that). It’s possible that members of a social network like Facebook just aren’t looking for news from established media outlets, but would rather find it somewhere else.

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