CNN.com can know you better. It just doesn’t now.

After careful thought and frequent frustrated sighs, I’ve decided to use this post as a platform for my manic brainstorming for ways Turner could use Big Data. Since Turner is an all encompassing company, I will suggest a multitude of ideas that could be mind-blowingly enlightening or completely laughable, so bear with me.

While I originally thought to make Turner’s global brand more prevalent across its many communities, I decided that I must concentrate on one of Turner’s brands in order to make the prospect of global awareness more feasible. In order order to narrow my focus, I began to think which of Turner’s many companies would benefit the most from a global boost. In these terms, the answer is simple.

CNN. Or more appropriately, CNN.com.

According to the Pew State of the News Media 2011 report, CNN’s viewership fell 37% in 2011, far below that of MSNBC’s which only fell 5%. This is surprising when considering the fact that in 2012, ebiz named CNN.com the 2nd most popular online news site with an average of 74,000,000 unique monthly viewers.

With all those statistics, it becomes a question as to why there is such a disconnect between CNN’s television audience versus the audience it receives online at CNN.com. A possible answer, in my opinion, is that news is better tailored to an online platform over a televised one. News online is as up to date as technology allows. It also lets the news consumers produce information in the form of news tips and commentary on the articles. Third, and what may be most important, is that news consumers have the power to choose what news they consume. There is no waiting for news programs to cover desired subject matters, all the information consumers may require is at the touch of a few keystrokes. This shift in the consumption of news media is the very reason why Big Data is so important, without the latest in personalization, news consumers will simply run over CNN and other news organizations like it.

This is not to say that CNN.com isn’t employing some personalization, they are. Now my mind may be melding my Big Data posts together, but Facebook Connect could be the way to take CNN.com’s personalized news one step further.

In a very small place on the right-side of the CNN.com home page, there is an option to sign in using Facebook Connect. The allow screen is about as innocuous as it gets. It asks for permission to use your basic information and nothing else. If you allow it and continue towards your new CNN.com profile page, the first left-hand bar you see asks if you want to disconnect from Facebook Connect. It’s pretty obvious that CNN.com is taking a neutral position in this burgeoning field of Big Data, but I think that that type of thinking is a mistake.

Here’s what CNN.com’s Facebook Connect option allows you to do:

  • You can look at the Facebook friends’ status updates that reference a CNN article.

And that’s about it. Seriously.

Remember when I told you how CNN.com was named second in ebiz‘s 15 most popular news websites? Guess who was first? Yahoo News. Surprise, surprise. The one news site with the most popular Facebook social reader that attracts 110,000,000 unique monthly viewers wins the top prize. Yahoo News  is an example of how CNN.com can be more personal, but personalization can still be better.

Here’s an idea how.

CNN.com’s Facebook Connect feature is a good first step, but it needs to ask for more information about you, or rather your friends. If the feature asked for your Newsfeed, than it could gather information about the topics that your friends are updating about.

For example, take my boyfriend’s, Ian’s Facebook page. Lately, his two friends Rick and Katie have been posting a lot about Joe Paterno. Sports addict Rick believes that Joe Paterno has been treated unfairly and his legacy should one that’s positive. Not-a-sports-addict Katie believes that Joe Paterno should be remembered as a coach that should have done more, and that any positive memorials and statues to the contrary should be torn down. Now Rick and Katie do not know each other, but as Ian’s friends both their updates appear on his Newsfeed where he has a chance to comment or not. Regardless of his participation in this online discussion, the topic of Joe Paterno is officially popular with his friends. What if CNN.com could capitalize on this by recommending articles based on the popular topics in your friends’ Newsfeeds? By clicking Facebook Connect on CNN.com, the website could look for common subjects in your friends’ status updates and then feed you articles based on those subjects. So in Ian’s case, CNN.com would send him the latest coverage and opinion pieces on Joe Paterno in his Newsfeed that might look something like this:

Your Friends are talking about JOE PATERNO

Here’s what you should know:

Like what you read? Share it with Katie and Rick.

Something like this is more than what Yahoo News has to offer, so it would make CNN.com ahead of the curve. The main benefits of this proposed idea is that while Ian is already connected to CNN.com, Katie and Rick are not. This would make CNN.com’s Facebook Connect gain popularity, unlike its current feature which only updates users on friends that are already reading CNN.com articles. It also shames users into reading the news, because it informs them on topics that their friends are already updating about. I know that I feel stupid when my friends talk about something that I know nothing about. You can’t nod online people. But maybe that’s just me.

Now you may be asking what this has to do with increasing global awareness. The simple answer is it doesn’t. This just my first idea of how to revolutionize CNN.com with Big Data, and honestly, my excessive word count shames me. So thanks for reading this long, and I hope to do a separate post about the possibility of regional news pulses and feeds specifically for news articles.

Exciting!

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