The moment mbStartups has been waiting for is here. Mashable, which is already an excellent news source for digital media, has stepped up its game with the launch of Mashable Follow: a new tool for personalizing and sharing news. With this new social layer, every story and topic on the site will have a “follow” and “unfollow” button that readers can use to create and refine a personal “my stories” feed.
There are already tools for publishers to track which stories got the most page views and shares after they’ve been posted, but what’s interesting about the “follow” button is that it offers a way for publishers to gauge interest in stories that haven’t been written. Just yesterday, FishbowlNY told the story of how business editor Peter Goodman left the New York Times for AOL simply because he had more freedom to follow up on stories that otherwise might not have fit into the editorial calendar. If a lot of users are following a particular story, that will be a pretty obvious sign to Mashable’s editors that a follow-up story is in order.
“Mashable Follow is the natural extension of social media within the news experience,” said Pete Cashmore, Mashable founder and CEO in a statement. Readers can now log in with Facebook or Twitter, which automatically imports their contacts into the system. Once they create a profile, they can follow their friends or see reading lists from other users with similar interests. With an improved link sharing function, users can post articles to Facebook, Twitter, Google Buzz or Digg with a single click.
Mashable has even managed to throw in a gaming element – there are badges for readers who make comments, follow or share stories, and connect with other users. (How about a politeness badge? Best spelling and grammar? Most creative spam attempt?)
The future of news is here and we have to say, it’s a step up from getting a newspaper clipping in the mail from grandma. If you (or your grandmother) are still confused, check out the demo below: