Clarkesworld Magazine Going Social…

Over the last few days, I’ve exchanged a few emails with Erin Hoffman, author of  “An Open Source Speculative Fiction Magazine Model.” In that post she says:

“Modern smaller magazines today are not focusing enough on this community growth. They aren’t growing their online forums, they aren’t giving their subscribers the opportunity to express themselves and connect with each other, they aren’t holding location-based annual events specifically designed to get subscribers connecting and generating their own communities. They aren’t providing social tools or branching into the explosively growing social networking movement.”

Clarkesworld Magazine inherited a forum from my bookstore.  It needs a lot of work and and I’ll be posting about my plans for that later.  What I’d rather focus on today is going social.  Up until two months ago, Clarkesworld was basically anti-social.  There was no room for reader participation except on our failing message board.  When we added non-fiction, I decided that the time had come to allow comments and in the first two months we have a bit of activity.  Something I’m discovering now is that I should be insisting that our non-fiction authors and perhaps even the interviewees, stop in an respond to the conversation.  Talking to a wall, is no better than not being able to talk.

At this point, I haven’t allowed comments on the fiction.  It just doesn’t seem right to me, but I think I’m being old-fashioned.  What do you think?  There is a lot more I can do improve on-site social opportunities.  I can work on adding contests, live author chats, more non-fiction, and even open up the fiction.  With changes to the site and forums, I think we’ll be in good shape, but I think I’m making it sound easier than it is.

Social networking is also marketing.  Clarkesworld has used a Myspace account for marketing for a while now.  It links to the magazine, but I never linked the magazine back to it, so when I was talking with Erin, she was completely unaware that we had a MySpace presence.  I’ve since fixed that.  Anyhow, Erin is very well-informed about social networks and managed to point me towards some services that I didn’t know about.  For example, while I’ve been using Facebook for a while, I didn’t know that they had opened up some business services.

The long and short of this is that Clarkesworld Magazine now has a growing presence on:

Facebook
MySpace
Squidoo

and I’m looking into connecting Clarkesworld to Facebook’s new Beacon service.  What this does is give me the option to send  “YOUR NAME just read Summer in Paris, Light from the Sky by Ken Scholes at Clarkesworld Magazine” to your Facebook profile.  (with your permission, of course)  Seems cool and I understand that places like Blockbuster already dove headlong into this feature.  Inspired, I started poking around and found this:

Sharethis allows, from a single button, a visitor to a site to send that page’s link to a variety of social networking sites like Digg, Facebook, and StumbleUpon.  It even has a more traditional  “tell a friend” email option.  It turns out that this is extremely easy to integrate into a site.  You’ll now find that little green icon at the bottom of each story or article in Clarkesworld Magazine.  Now if you find something you know a friend would enjoy, you can send them a link right from our site. Go on, you know you want to try it. 🙂

Very exciting… and I’ve only scratched the surface.