Given the recent craze for social networking and other Web 2.0 phenomena, it seems like everybody's trying to get more social. The latest company to jump on the bandwagon is Borders
Borders.gather.com gives Borders customers a place to go online to participate in discussions on various forms of media -- and when I visited the site, somehow it didn't surprise me to find a Harry Potter discussion at the top of the list. Borders' "Shortlist" email blasts to customers will invite them to click over to the community to participate in user-generated content like chats, articles, and blogs. Borders will also include author chats, interviews, and in-store event information within the virtual walls of the new site.
Another interesting element is that Borders will award borders.gather.com members with "Gather Points" for participating, which they will be able to redeem through the site for goodies like gift cards.
The Borders press release pointed out that people love to talk about media of all kinds, and nobody can argue about that. Of course, I can't help thinking that Borders is a bit late to the game when it comes to fostering such community-driven engines for its commerce. Companies such as Amazon.com
In my opinion, Borders definitely could juice up its Web offering; I did most of my Christmas shopping online, and even though I browsed around Borders' and Barnes & Noble's
Of course, it doesn't hurt for Borders to try to drive retail traffic and sales -- both online and to its bricks-and-mortar locations -- in this way. (And given the rather lackluster third quarter, one might imagine that this is at least part of what Borders CEO George Jones was referring to when he mentioned "embracing innovation and technology.") Whether Borders' new online gathering place will end up producing the same amount of success and innovation as its Web-focused rivals remains to be seen.