The Wall Street Journal has unveiled WSJ Social Beta, a new way to consume news on Facebook. The effort from the News Corp. paper provides users full access to Journal articles within the walls of Facebook, along with the Journal's own advertising. The basic idea of WSJ Social is to create a curated news experience where you read articles recommended by others, as well as provide an easy way to read and share news with your friends. The effort also appears to fall in line with Facebook's rumored strategy of including more original content such as music and video within the site. The social network's original content plans are expected to be unveiled Thursday during the company's F8 developer conference.
WSJ Social is available for free for a limited time thanks to launch sponsorship partners that include Dell and Intel. Users can try it out by logging in to Facebook and then visiting social.wsj.com, which will redirect you to the new app.
Here's a look at WSJ Social Beta.
As with any Facebook app, you first have to sign off and agree to allow WSJ Social to access your Facebook information. The newspaper asks for access to your basic information and the ability to send you e-mails, post to your wall and access your data.
When you first land on WSJ Social, you will see news stories organized into tiles that include a headline and photo, as well as the number of likes and Facebook comments the story has already received. WSJ Social calls this collection of stories your latest news feed, and should not be confused with your regular Facebook news feed where you see likes and shares from your Facebook friends. The stories you see in WSJ Social are not based on the WSJ's top headlines for that day, but on the Facebook likes of other Journal readers.
This is where the social aspect comes in, as your WSJ Social experience and the stories you see depends on the likes of other readers (WSJ Social calls them editors) who you choose to subscribe to. When you open the app for the first time you are automatically subscribed to The Wall Street Journal's default editors and you will see everything this group has liked. Other people can also add you as an editor, meaning they will see your Facebook likes of Journal stories.
When you use WSJ Social, you are both an editor and a reader, which is similar to Twitter's idea of having followers and following the tweets of others. On WSJ Social, anyone who chooses to follow you as an editor will see a stream of stories based on your Facebook likes (just commenting on a story won't cut it). And anytime you choose to follow an editor (including anyone on Facebook who uses the app, not just your friends), you will be able to see the stories that person has liked.
You can choose to view stories in your WSJ Social news feed based on the likes of all your editors at once, or you can view the specific likes of one editor at a time. Once you subscribe to an editor you become their reader.
On the left-hand side of your news feed is a column listing all the editors you are following; toward the bottom there is also a listing called "Top Three Editors"; these are the three editors across the entire app with the most readers.
Clicking on the "All" button at the top of the column next to your editors or next to the Top Three Editors will show you who today's top editors are across the entire app, the editors who you are subscribed to, a listing of the Journal's staff and a list of your readers. From here you can manage your subscriptions by adding or removing editors including your own readers.
As you like stories, they will show up on your editor profile page, which you can see by clicking on your name on the upper left side of the app. Your profile shows the stories you have liked, the total number of likes you have and the readers subscribed to you.
Viewing a story
Clicking on a story opens up the full article within Facebook. At the top of each page is a link to read the article on the Journal's website or you can continue to read the entire story on Facebook. The app also includes a like button at the top and bottom of each article. Clicking on the button opens up a box where you can add a comment and post a link to the story to your Facebook wall for your friends. You can also choose not to add a comment or post it by pressing the close button.
If you don't want to like the story, but want to leave a comment, there is a Facebook comment box to the right where you can share your thoughts. Once you share a comment, you are automatically subscribed to receive updates when someone comments on your post, and you can also choose to receive updates on someone else's comment by clicking "Follow Post." If you don't want to receive updates to your comment just click the "Unfollow Post" link below your comment.
At the very top of each news story is also a navigation box that allows you to click through to the next story in your editors' stream of Facebook likes instead of going back to your WSJ Social news feed.
Each story also includes an advertisement box on the right-hand side, currently taken up by the Journal's launch partners, Dell and Intel.
WSJ Social Beta is an interesting experiment in merging the social aspect of news into the world's most popular social network, but the one thing I was missing was some kind of search function to find articles. It appears you are limited to reading Journal content that others surface by either liking articles on Facebook or on the Wall Street Journal site. That being said, you can't argue with getting all Journal content for free for a limited time, so why not give it a try and let us know what you think?