Edgelings

Spleak: Content + Utility = Sweet Spot

As long as there has been a world wide web to use as a media platform, those of us working with it have carried on a vigorous debate that might be called the “content vs. utility” question. Reasonable people can disagree on the question, and frequently do, staking out extreme positions (”content is dead” or “content is king”) as flamers and trolls do so well.  But the truth, as is so often the case, lies squarely in the middle.

Great web apps combine content and utility.

Today’s example comes courtesy of Spleak, one of the little companies I like to keep tabs on. You may recall earlier posts about this hybrid-publishing platform that mashes mainstream media content with user-generated content primarily over instant messaging, social networks, and mobile devices.

The San Francisco-based startup introduced three new interactive community services toady – StyleSpleak, TVSpleak, and GameSpleak to join CelebSpleak, SportsSpleak, and VoteSpleak.

By far its most successful to date is CelebSpleak, which caters to female teens and 20-somethings who love to gossip about celebrities. The sports, gaming, and political sites are clear attempts by the Spleak team to attract more male users.

In addition to its media partnership with Hearst Digital (CosmoGirl, Seventeen, Teen, and eSpin), Spleak now has deals with Fox Sports and CBS Sports. It would be a fair guess that they will be adding fashion and gaming media partners soon.

Spleak is the perfect example of how to combine content with utility. Fans can read, rate, create and share content with their friends. Content giants like the Hearst units benefit from having their content broken up into 250-word snippets that go flying around niche communities with the speak of text messaging.

Content and utility. Think about it. Or, if you prefer, Spleak it…

David Weir is a veteran journalist who has worked at Rolling Stone, California, Mother Jones, Business 2.0, SunDance, the Stanford Social Innovation Review, MyWire, 7×7, and the Center for Investigative Reporting, which he cofounded in 1977.