Glam Media upended conventional publishing notions six years ago after discovering readers were increasingly seeking out authors instead of media properties–or, as Glam CEO Samir Arora tells Fast Company, “The journalist or the author is now the brand.”
Today, the network of 2,500 blogs and micro-sites, which attracts 94 million unique readers in the U.S. every month, is releasing a suite of tools that will make it easier for content creators to set up and run their sites. That suite also includes a set of tools that sites can use to incorporate social functionality, including creating their own mini-social networks, or, as Arora puts it, “Facebook-in-a-box for content creators.”
Along with it, Glam is introducing another revolutionary concept: the notion that authors will have to create social networks around themselves in order to succeed–and that those social networks could eventually be as important to their audiences as the actual content the authors themselves create.
“If social really is changing everything,” Arora says, “then the future of content and blogs will be micro-social networks.”
Glam Media, one of the companies on our 2010 Most Innovative Companies list, makes money by identifying promising lifestyle and entertainment sites written by one or a small number of contributors (like SheFinds, HealthCastle.com, and Gear Patrol) and then offering them to premium advertisers looking for targeted audiences, sharing the resulting revenues with the sites.
Glam is betting that readers will be attracted to the sites’ mini-social networks because they’ll enjoy connecting with people with like interests. “Each small group acts as a filter,” Arora says.
Glam is also betting that the mini-social networks will appeal to premium advertisers who, Arora says, are increasingly looking for opportunities to engage in social spaces.
“For brands, reaching influentials is very important,” Arora says. “Social is now becoming a key spend for brands.”
For example, he says, if people in Glam’s new Bliss health and wellness vertical (launching today) are discussing running, certain athletic shoe companies might want to engage with those people.
Whether Arora’s thesis pans out could depend on the types of engagement opportunities Glam offers to brands.
Christian Juhl, President of the West for Razorfish, says brands aren’t looking for simply another place to drop their display ads. They want to be able to participate in the conversations going on inside social networks as well.
“It’s taken a long time for brands to find their voice,” he tells Fast Company. “Now they’re looking for new ways to communicate.”