What is a web review for? Why do we read web reviews? I don’t know about you, but I can’t keep up with all the news that interests me on the web. You know, the Internet is going too fast, all that …
If catching up is the first reason why we read web reviews, this format is useful for many other reasons. This does not prevent it from being sometimes misused.
So this is the primary utility of web reviews: catching up. By synthetically aggregating news published over a few days or weeks, they are a quick and practical reading to ingest a lot of information without spending the day there.
The “big” media events, such as for example elections, attacks or other sweets, are good examples in this area: reading cannot follow the stream “live”, despite the press’s appetite for it (the famous “live” sacred in some newsrooms).
It is then that a web post event review fulfills a very useful role: to allow readers to read all the information related to the subject in a collected version.
Often linked to “strong” news, web reviews are also used judiciously during off-peak periods, during which many people disconnect. The return to school after the summer is a good time for web reviews like: “What you should not miss this summer”. A very useful catch-up for summer.
Beyond this (obvious) interest, the web review can also help the reader to understand a subject in its entirety. This is the second utility of the format.
Enrich a subject
How many articles publish an interesting information but focused on a very small part of the subject? An example: on August 27, 2013, many papers reported the latest news from Facebook (shared photo albums).
In this ocean of articles, they were very few to explain the context, however rich, of the announcement: try to explain the success of photography on social media, go up the thread to justify this new feature, criticize the uses , or even do a bit of foresight … Which is not a criticism of these articles: they do their job very well, namely announcing the raw information.
This is where the second utility of web review comes in: aggregating information by giving it perspective.
To take the subject taken as an example here, it would be fascinating to read a web review putting into perspective the use of the photo on social media, the success of photos in particular on Facebook, the redemption of Instagram, the links with mobile, G + competition, etc. In short, integrate all the factors that led to this decision to create shared albums – and not just the raw advertisement.
Tap into the conversation
For those who generate a little audience, web content systematically gives rise to comments, exchanges on Twitter, sharing on Facebook, debates in forums, etc.
Various conversations which must be considered as a production worthy of interest.
This is where web reviews reveal their third utility: embedding the conversation in the content, or even making it into content in itself. A kind of “extension” of the web review.
Such use can be very useful in:
- Crisis communication cases (show some reactions to better explain / justify the decisions taken);
- Event reports (aggregate reactions to tell about the event);
- Illustrations of debates (see also this example, a very good synthesis of comments on a subject that generates a lot of discussion).
Non-exhaustive list: many other uses can be thought of.
Misuse of the web review
Among all these good web reviews, some prove to be ill-founded. An example: the “tweet clash” of the newspaper L’Opinion.fr (on the government project concerning pensions). If this content seems to meet a specific objective, namely to show the divergences of policies on Twitter, it suffers from two big deficiencies.
First error: centered on a particular medium (Twitter), this tweets review leaves aside all the other tools that internet users use. Considering that Twitter is the alpha and omega of web conversations, as L’Opinion.fr seems to suggest, is obviously simplistic.
Quid Facebook, many rich forums, Google +, Instagram, etc. ? Without forgetting of course, since this is about politics, blogs of personalities? All these supports would constitute a real enrichment of this web review.
Second error: L’Opinion.fr confines itself to a purely descriptive register. Reading tweets in front of a camera is not a web review, even if it is called “Web 2.0 review”.
Remember: a good Web review is first and foremost about choosing good links on the chosen topic. But the work does not stop there: it remains to register these links in a demonstration or a perspective. In short: to give meaning to this aggregate. A simple aggregate doesn’t say anything or explain anything.
Think about web reviews
It has almost become a horse chestnut of web marketing tickets: DEFINE YOUR OBJECTIVES before you start! A very sensible chestnut tree.
Web journals must suffer the same torture: think of the format. What do I want to demonstrate? What is the best way (tone, media, choice of links) to do it? How useful is my web review to readers?
Some simple questions whose answers will bring out good web reviews. Unless these answers show you that the idea of carrying out a web review is inappropriate with regard to your objective. A questioning that will push you to borrow another format, which is not always a bad thing.