HuffPost’s Greg Coleman: ‘We Are Positioning Ourselves as a Social-Media Company’

“First and foremost, we are positioning ourselves as a social-media company,” The Huffington Post president and chief revenue officer Greg Coleman told during the course of a Q&A. Highlights:

This company is known for its great editorial product, and it should be. But the biggest surprise is (the role of) technology and openness in enabling us to grow so fast…It’s the whole content-management system that our team has that enables editors to do their own search-engine optimization and (content) sharing right at their desks and to get updates on how well their stories are doing every 15 minutes. We had one of our really strong editors here leave to go to another news organization, a very large newspaper, I won’t say which. When she was hired, everybody’s like, “Do that magic the way you did at The Huffington Post.” But without the technology, you can’t spread your wings the way that she was enabled to do here.

First and foremost, we are positioning ourselves as a social-media company, meaning that all of the great and powerful social marketing tools that have made The Huffington Post grow right now to 24 million unique visitors, we can now use those tools to help our marketers beam their messages throughout the Internet, across the galaxy, the Internet, and the world. So whether it’s tapping into our Facebook Connect, tapping into our partnership with Twitter, our SEO, that’s really our point of differentiation, and I’m hiring a number of people that we’re calling “social marketing managers” that will, literally, project-manage those tools for marketers. So we’re doing that, and then of course, we’re open for regular advertising, so we position ourselves as a fast-growing, high-income, high-education, highly opinionated audience with scale, and that’s gotten a tremendous amount of recognition within the marketing community.

We’ve been labeling ourselves “America’s Internet Newspaper.” With the brand we have online right now, if we’re 24 million unique visitors today, if we have now almost 3 million comments per month, our guess is that, in three years, we’re going to be a hell of a lot larger. We’re already preparing for 5 million comments within the next year-and-a-half, and that’s required a whole layer of social badging with our users, who are actually moderating our site.

And moderation is really important to a business like ours, where we don’t want profanity, we don’t want people with conspiracy theories, you know, we have to keep it grown-up. We’ll never moderate for opinion, but you have some people out there that you need to curate and to moderate…We’ve had tremendous interest from other media forms, getting into the radio business, getting into the television business, because we have a point of view. And that is so important today, to have a distinct opinion and point of view, but to allow the users to be part of the conversation, that’s what they want. David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.