Saucy Sun snaps in their Facebook apps
Over the last couple of years I've had more cause to be critical of clumsy attempts by newspapers to incorporate advanced web features into their offering than I've had opportunity to praise them. However, I feel I have to grudgingly offer some respect to The Sun for the way they are using MySpace widgets and Facebook apps.
They've launched a MY Sun Girl Next Door application on both platforms.
"Is your Facebook or MySpace profile lacking some hotty action? Fancy a bevy of beautiful girls to jazz it up?
MY Sun has launched the MY Sun Girl Next Door app – bringing you a hot pic of a REAL girl every day.
All the girls on the app are MY Sun members, and you can check out their profiles and leave them messages.
You can also rate them, comment on their blogs, or just spend a good minute or two checking them out – they're top drawer!
And if you're a girl and want a piece of the action, follow these easy instructions and sign up! We'll be in touch about adding you to the app!"
The genius of this interaction for The Sun is that it comes at virtually no additional cost to the newspaper. The development cost for the applications must have been relatively low, and although there will be some ongoing maintenance requirement, it can be pretty much left as a done deal.
The women seem happy to be seen in the saucy snaps of themselves, and the only cost to The Sun is the hosting, moderation and the potential brand damage risk if it turns out that a 'model' is under 16 (as happened with FHM last year)
The users of the app, mostly men I guess, although Rebekah Wade argues there are lots of female fans of Page 3, are getting a free new 'hotty' on their profile page when they visit it.
And The Sun have successfully wrapped their brand around the simple act of transmitting a new picture every day.
Leaving aside the moral implications of the content here, this is a brilliant example of a brand utilising user-generated content to enhance their reach. People visiting the Facebook profiles of friends who are Sun readers get exposed to the brand, on the basis of regularly updating content that is costing The Sun next-to-nothing to make.
And which, in most cases, is wearing next-to-nothing as well.
Of course, this is The Sun though, so please indulge me as I wince at their promotional headlines like 'Get your Apps out' and 'Breast girls on Facebook'.
I should go on record and say that I think there is a time and a place for looking at pictures of women without their clothes on, and personally, I don't happen to believe that place is within the pages of a daily newspaper. However, it has an audience reach of 7.7 million, and, as I understand it from my primitive grasp of capitalist economics, the market can't be wrong.
And, to ape the puntastic Sun style, I see they've even managed to get off their RSS and fix their web feeds, which broke in early November...