A New Approach to Social Media

By Nblonkenfeld, Wikia Inc.

By: George Chai, Technology Analyst

As we move towards the latter half of 2014, we should take note of some social media developments in the past decade like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Snapchat, to name a few. Facebook currently ranks second on the Alexa scale, while Twitter remains in the top ten. A common ground that all five of these sites possess is the power to attract the unique individual. Billions of unique people simply tap an application on their smart phones to either send a tweet, a status, or post a picture to their friends – that’s it. However, most social media, in the advancing technology world, is solely becoming more advanced.

A company based in San Francisco, California that farmed over 116 million visitors this month alone, could be a new model for new social media. Its purpose is to provide a free web hosting service for a particular kind of site; a wiki. Powered by MediaWiki, a PHP software written by another company specializing in the “wiki style”, Wikia adds a sense of community to its millions of users through its original and non-original developments, creating a new generation of social media-ites, but what will be the effects of such a movement?

On a technological aspect, Wikia has allowed users to build almost 340,000 wiki websites with the benefits of MediaWiki and their own twists. A wiki is a website with a Wikipedia-like format which enables users, or editors, to make pages about a certain topic. There are communities written about video games, cooking, and dozens of other topics; there are well over 34 million pages hosted by Wikia, exponentially growing every month. But the reason why Wikia can be identified as a social media site is because of its recent add-ons.

In the last few years, the company’s engineers have been working on an exciting unique Wikia feature, called Wikia Chat. Essentially, with a click of a button by the wiki’s administrators the entire community is able to chat through a platform which shows resemblance to other social media sites’ chats. Given that this idea was already manifested by other companies, this development transformed modern editing on the web, which gave way to a generation of users, millions in fact, to a new way of social media; now, many users continue to log on every day and chat about their edits on the new gaming trend or a new software created by Wikia’s dedicated engineers.

The second main reason why Wikians call their site social media is because of a controversial creation called the Message Wall. The MW is to some degree modelled after Facebook’s system of notifications. To sum it up, Message Wall allows users to communicate on each other’s “user pages” and once a message is posted, a nice big red “1” pops up on the top right hand corner, just like Facebook. This feature has caused many hardcore editors to give brash comments towards staffers, accusing them of turning Wikia into a social media website, which actually was partly intended. Regardless, in recent months, there has been massive adoption by new users of the site. Their reaction to the Message Wall has been very positive; embracing the social media transformation. In turn, quite a few companies have made partnerships with the growing web hosting site.

Sony Online Entertainment, a division of Sony Corporation recently announced a partnership with Wikia to promote their new video game, Planetside 2. With such a lucrative market for gaming, John Smedley, president of SOE, notes, “I can’t give away revenue numbers, but it is doing an order of magnitude greater revenue daily than any of our other titles.” This greater revenue rate can be attributed to the company’s effort to promote its video game through Wikia, which has incredibly good Search Engine Optimization and of course a huge visitor pool per month. Today, Wikian staff members are expanding their company internationally; they have created thousands of Spanish, German, Chinese, Japanese, Dutch, and Portuguese pages and even recruited foreign workers. But this leaves a few questions, will more big name companies turn their eyes on Wikia? Will Wikia be utilized internationally? And of course, will this transcend a new generation of social media? Only time will tell.