Sharon Feder Says For Mashable, Its All About Community

Flip the Media was lucky enough to snag an interview with Mashable’s Chief Operating Officer, Sharon Feder. We spoke with her following the premiere of the startup documentary Control+Alt+Compete co-hosted with Microsoft.

Showing no signs of stress around the soon to break story that Mashable was to be bought by CNN, (denied by CEO Pete Cashmore, according to the New York Times) Feder shared her thoughts on the secret to their success and what it takes for the professional to navigate the digital world.

Mashable is one of the definitive online voices out there reporting on technology, digital media and web culture. Started in Scotland, 6 and half years ago by a 19 year old Cashmore, it now attracts 23 million visitors a month. So no one should be surprised that Mashable is in the acquiring sights of the likes of CNN.

But what has been the key to their success? Certainly part of it is timing. They were one of the first online blogging news sites to really focus on the then emerging social network phenomenon.

According to Feder, the number one secret of their success, or indeed any blog or news site, is community. Reporting on what your community identifies with and listening to what they tell you they want to know about is critical. In our interview she talks further about how they pivoted on their editorial and coverage around SOPA when at the recent World Economic Forum in Davos – based on what their community was telling them.

She goes on to talk about the other secrets to success. Having a strong voice and the importance of authenticity are key. It is crucial that you provide your community value. Give them what is important to them, speak authentically and be true to what your community expects of you. Like many before them, if they are indeed bought out, they will have to work hard to make sure they continue to live up to the standards and expectations of their community – particularly those of their more independently minded readers.

Feder has charted an interesting professional course to become COO. Joining in 2008 as assistant editor she quickly took on the leadership role of managing editor, and then publisher before her elevation to Chief Operating Officer earlier this year. In our video interview we asked her what it takes to be successful in today’s digital media landscape.

She explains that it’s important to think of yourself as an entrepreneur. It’s no longer about doing one thing. You have to understand your content area, understand how analytics work, and know about the community you are engaging with and be open to constantly evolving roles.

So whether or not in a few weeks Mashable becomes a division of a another company, they are a great example of how important it is to keep your community at the center of things. The hope will be that they continue to do so no matter who owns them.

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