The Wall Street Journal is bringing its content into the Facebook platform with its launch of the WSJ Social app, available free of charge during its first month thanks to exclusive launch advertiser Dell.
WSJ Social allows users to read, share, and comment on content from WSJ.com — including breaking news, columns, analysis, opinion, and blog posts — within the Facebook environment, as well as to share their favorite content with other users on the social network, with the top “editors,” or those who are followed the most, appearing on a leader board.
Any WSJ content shared or liked by a reader of WSJ Social will appear on that person’s news feed, and the newspaper said more features, including further customization and more content integration, will be added shortly.
WSJ Digital Network general manager Alisa Bowen said in an official press release:
We’re breaking the mold of using Facebook simply to drive traffic to our websites and are now creating an opportunity to engage with the Journal directly on the Facebook platform. WSJ Social creates a more integrated experience for users and innovative opportunities for advertisers.
Following the app’s first month of availability, WSJ Social itself will continue to be available free-of-charge, but subscriber-only content will only be accessible by subscribers to the paper’s digital bundle, which includes access to WSJ.com and the Journal‘s apps for tablets and smartphones.
WSJ’s Maya Baratz, head of new products, explained the motivation behind the launch of the social site to Nieman Journalism Lab:
You can’t rely on users coming to you anymore. (WSJ is) navigating the content within the app around people, (making) every user an editor. (WSJ Social is about) elevating the role of people as curators of content. When you walk into the app, you have this very curated publication.
Bowen added in an interview with Forbes:
The fundamental idea of it is super-simple. It’s about making (WSJ content) available where people are. It’s really about the users being elevated to editors. This is totally a Wall Street Journal initiative. It really is kind of like another Internet.
Both Baratz and Bowen touched on the idea of WSJ Social users serving as editors, which may be all good and well during the first, Dell-sponsored month of the app’s existence.
But once Facebook users run into the WSJ paywall for the first time, how much will their friends’ recommendations matter? Will people be willing to pony up for access to content because it was recommended by their friends?