Note: The following post is a direct response to Pete Cashmore, who sent me a DM over the weekend after this response to a tweet by my friend, Kasey Skala asking how he/they could improve Mashable (to be clear, I regret the “spammy” comment–that was completely unnecessary and does not reflect the Mashable content I read each day). Since my thoughts didn’t neatly fit into 140 characters, I wanted to share them publicly via this post.
Dear Mr. Cashmore:
First, let me say one thing: Thank you for listening. I didn’t expect you to respond when I mentioned your site in passing to a friend over the weekend, but I certainly appreciate that you care enough to listen and respond. That alone speaks volumes about your character.
Second, I’m a big fan of your site. I consult it daily for trends, information and other key points I use in my professional life. But, that interest has been waning just a bit lately. Keep in mind, I share my constructive feedback as a fan, not a detractor.
You asked a simple question: How can we improve? And since I’m never one to complain and not offer solutions, I wanted to share my thoughts here. I don’t want to double up too much with a post from Adam Singer which I thought articulated some key points nicely last month, but I do share some of the same concerns as Adam.
* Be a better filter. I signed up for the Mashable e-newsletter a while back. I thought getting the news delivered straight to my inbox would force me to check in and review the content each day. It’s had the opposite effect. The Mashable email typically has a post count of anywhere from 22-30. Now, I’m not the busiest guy in the world, but I am in the midst of starting a business, so my time is definitely at a premium. And, while I would love to spend an hour a day reviewing Mashable content, I just don’t have it. I know they’re short, scannable headlines, but I would be much more interested in a more succinct list of the top 8 posts from the previous day. Filter the content. Give me the really, really good stuff. Better yet, give me the content I want based on my preferences–now that would be valuable.
* Less is more. Related to the point above, and agreeing with Adam here, focus on quality over quantity. Again, most of us don’t have the time to review 28 new posts a day. But, I have no problem making 15 minutes to read four really interesting and insightful posts related to the PR/marketing industry and how social media tools and concepts are impacting it. Also, I’d like to see the “less is more” concept applied to who guest posts on Mashable, too. I mean, I was a huge Fab Five fan back in the day, but I could care less what Jalen Rose has to say about anything regarding digital PR or marketing (he even wrote a piece about how the PGA can use social media to rebuild its brand–am I the only one confused by that connection?). If virtually anyone can pen a Mashable piece, in my view, it devalues the content a bit (and as a result, the brand). Make Mashable authorship more exclusive. Recruit more credible authors. Bottom line: Make it a tremendous industry accomplishment to be a Mashable author.
* Get back to basics. Not in the “get back to social media basics” kinda way, but in the “focus on what you do best” way. Mashable’s mantra is simple: The social media guide. Now, those four simple words can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people, but in my mind that means helping your readers get smarter about trends, data, research and information around digital PR, marketing and communications through social tools and channels. In the last week, there have been a few posts that caught my attention and spurred me to read. But, there have also been a number of posts that I questioned and wondered why they made the cut (including this post about the Emmy’s potentially ditching tape delays). You provide great content–just focus on what you do best and ditch the rest.
* Provide more context and opinions. Perfect example: Last week Mashable reported WordPress was unveiling an Android app. Wonderful, I thought, as a new Droid owner. But, the post was little more than an announcement with little added value and opinion. Why not build out the post a little more with tips and advice on how to best use the new app (or, maybe that’s coming soon–maybe it was too soon)? I definitely valued the heads up from Mashable on the news–I just would have liked more depth in the post behind the “what that means for me” as an Android user.
Again, Mr. Cashmore, thanks for listening. Clearly, you have one of the most successful and well-read sites in our industry. You provide a wealth of useful information each day. I only hope you’ll continue to listen and keep tweaking your approach to best meet the needs of your community.
Arik C. Hanson