AOL wants its publishing technology to become the backbone for social interaction for a slew of non-AOL Web sites.
The company has introduced Socialthing, a suite of tools and services that promises to make static content sites more social/community oriented. It also aims to interconnect the average user’s set of social media experiences, so that when a person interacts within a community on a particular content site that interaction is linked to his or her other social networking platforms—such as AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), Facebook or Twitter.
At the core of Socialthing is a new technology called The Lifestream Platform, which essentially syndicates a users social activity (comments on articles, status updates, etc) from one publisher to all other Socialthing-enabled sites. The product was created by AOL’s People Networks group, which was formed following its much-derided acquisition Bebo.
The Socialthing technology also enables users to seamlessly log onto multiple sites using their AOL screen name and platform, eliminating the need for multiple registrations and password log ins. In addition, it provides sites which don’t already have such community tools with AOL’s own chat and IM tools. Plus, developers can build their own applications for the service.
AOL is first rolling out Socialthing on its own collection of MediaGlow sites, starting with the country-music-themed The Boot, but the plan is to offer Socialthing to Web publishers of all shapes and sizes, free of charge. According to Ziv Navoth, senior vp, marketing and partnerships, AOL People Networks, the benefit to AOL is that its own social platforms, which include Bebo, ICQ and AIM, should become stickier, while its MediaGlow properties should be introduced to new audiences as more users alert friends when they visit these sites.
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