New ‘like’ features on

Jack Riley

84101278 244x300 New like features on I’ve written again and again recently, we’ve made a big effort to refocus over the last year to take into account the new ways people are finding, consuming and reacting to the news. It’s paid off; referrals from Facebook have grown 680 per cent comparing January and December of 2010, with referrals from Twitter also up 250 per cent. Much of that growth has been down to being one of the first big sites to integrate features like the Recommend button, a social plugin to show you what your friends are reading and sharing, and giving readers the ability to authenticate their commenting accounts through Facebook and Twitter using Disqus. Not to mention our very popular Facebook page as well.

For our latest efforts, I’ve been looking at the way media organisations have traditionally tried to erect social media monoliths – big, general marquee accounts like @CNN and, to a lesser extent whole channel-focussed accounts like our @TheIndySport - at the expense of giving people content in categories which best represent the individual topics in which they’re interested. On the plus side, organising your social media efforts into these broad categories means that you don’t have too many accounts to manage, and that you can all but guarantee a large audience. But the downside is that you miss, or at best overstate, the size of the units of human affection that actually exist in the real world. The point being that if you ask someone whether they follow sports, they will almost never answer ‘yes’; they’re vastly more likely to tell you they’re a Chelsea supporter,  that they follow Wigan Warriors, or that they are, this season with a sad cringe, a Hammer.

So starting with a few key areas of the site, we’ve been developing the tools to let people get their news from The Independent through social networks in tighter categories, designed to better reflect the parts of our editorial output you particularly enjoy. To that end, you can now ‘like’ all of our commentators on Facebook, and if you do then when they publish a story it’ll appear in your news feed. So if you want to know what key writers such as Robert Fisk and Johann Hari are covering each week, just follow those links and click ‘like’. Commentator’s like buttons are, for now, confined to their author pages, which you can get to by clicking the names in the dropdown navigation visible when you hover over commentators on the Opinion section.

We’ve also worked with UltraKnowledge, who for a long time have powered our excellent topic pages, to enable this feature for individual Premiership football clubs. So if you’re a Liverpool fan (and if so, commiserations) who wants to hear what our award-winning writers like James Lawton and Sam Wallace have to say about Kenny Dalglish’s (re)appointment, just click on your team on this page and click the Like button to receive updates.

We’ll be adding more similar features in the near future, but in the meantime, go ahead and sign up for your favourite commentators and teams – and let me know your thoughts below, or say hello on Twitter at @_JackRiley

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  • Shege

    Will the Independent ever re-open access for ordinary people to contribute blogs to Independent blogs, as in the LiveJournal days? That would seriously dismantle the monolith.

  • Shege

    And is it possible for the Independent to change the function that inserts a comment every time someone tweets about a blog via BackType?

  • Franco Piccato

    Great feature!

  • Tony Holland

    Love the facebook Premier League table but could you update the Liverpool crest? It’s about ten years past its sell-by date! Yeah yeah, insert you own team related jokes here…

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