Given that most of the WSJ.com’s content is behind a paywall, the goal of its new Facebook app, WSJ Social, is viewed as more of an advertising and marketing opportunity aimed at attracting sponsorships and building more engagement with subscribers. In keeping with that idea, all content available through the app will be free for its first month, thanks to a Dell sponsorship.
“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,” said Alisa Bowen, the WSJ Digital Network’s GM said in a statement. “WSJ Social creates a more integrated experience for users and innovative opportunities for advertisers.”
In terms of driving user engagement when they’re away from the WSJ site, the aim of the app is to let readers customize the kind of news they want to see, while encouraging them to see themselves as “editors” by selecting and sharing stories to others within their particular WSJ Social network. As a form of social media meritocracy, “editors” who amass the greatest following are recognized on a leaderboard in the app.
After the Dell free-access sponsorship ends, the app will feature a mix of free and subscriber-only content. The app itself will remain free to add on Facebook. In creating this app, the WSJ is taking a page from cable companies looking to offer viewing to authenticated subscribers across their PC and mobile devices, instead of locking it on all the TV screen.
Dubbed the “Journal Everywhere” model, the WSJ’s move seems perfectly timed to take advantage of Facebook’s expanded media offerings, which are expected to be announced on Thursday, as well as the rise of social readers like Flipboard, Pulse and Zite.