April Fool’s Day rituals: Whirlpool and NineMSN

Warning! Warning! ***Spoiler*** Don’t read ahead if you still like to believe in Santa Claus and pixies and that social networks will solve world hunger, global warming and your personal financial woes.

Communities offline and online have rituals. It could be an Easter egg hunt at Easter, or Talk like a Pirate Day, or even just how we say hello/goodbye and thank you. Each ritual has a deeper tribal meaning – I think clinking glasses and having a toast was about calling down vengeance if anyone snuck some poison in.

April Fool’s Day may well be the one day of the year when the tribe, errr, society looks upon itself with humour and irony. When choosing an April Fool’s Day prank, other than boring throw-a-water-balloon variety, it’s necessary to find a situation that almost happened but was avoided by good sense and pretend it did happen. Some moment when our rules and bureacracy or straight out venality nearly brought one organisation into a laughable situation. Or find a celebrity and pick an activity that one could almost believe they would do, if it wasn’t so horrendous. But perhaps the true April Fool’s Joke is the one that makes us wince. Not a laugh but a groan, an eye-rolling slightly-embarrassed titter. Aye the best pranks make us reflect.

In what way is this funny?

ninemsn acquires leading online discussion site
Sydney, Australia — ninemsn today announced the full acquisition of Australia’s leading online broadband and technology discussion site, Whirlpool.

The acquisition demonstrates the strategic importance of user-powered content to ninemsn’s vision of delivering content and services to customers, where, when and how they want it; and connecting advertisers with a broad, engaged audience wherever they are accessing these services.

According to Tony Faure, ninemsn CEO, Whirlpool represents the changing face of media and technology in Australia. More and more consumers are turning to sites such as Whirlpool for up to date information, research and discussion. Whirlpool will provide us access to a diverse and technologically aware user base, and allow us in turn to provide our clients with an innovative and cutting-edge marketing solution.” (more)
Simon Wright, founder of Whirlpool, said “Whirlpool has gone further than I ever imagined. It’s been great to see it become what it is today — the premier resource on broadband and technology-based discussion in Australia. Now, as it moves into its next phase, I’m looking forward to seeing ninemsn apply their proven track record to the Whirlpool concept.” (more) (hat tip:Shane Perris)

Given that nineMSN retains customers for around 10 minutes per month, Whirlpool could teach ’em a thing or two. I’ve written a lot on Whirlpool, including the fact that they are Australia’s most influential online community, that they have the ear of broadband influencers – 200,000 regulars, plus politicians/senators, and that they are the most influential telecomms news outlet (hitwise), but I thought that Telstra/Optus should underwrite them.

What is incredibly amusing is Whirlpool’s placement in terms of visits (from blog post) – sure, international sites such as Google, Yahoo, Facebook and YouTube are in the top ten. Then #10 was nineMSN, #32 Telstra BigPond, #39 Whirlpool Broadband News and #49 Optus Zoo.

Which one has the least budget? By the way, Whirlpool is right up there with carsales, domain, and RSVP dating. And even funnier is that Simon Wright, the guy that runs Whirlpool, works at NineMSN. But not on any of those sites, as far as I know. Heh.

So reflecting on the importance of April 1st pranks, the only question I have to nineMSN is: who are the FOOLS?

Laurel Papworth

Named by Forbes™ Magazine in the Top 50 Social Media Influencers globally, named Head of Industry, Social Media (Marketing Magazine™) and in the Power150 Media bloggers (AdAge™). CERT IV Training and Assessment certified trainer (Diplomas and Certificates etc) Adult Education. Laurel has manager Facebook Pages for Junior Masterchef, Idol, Big Brother etc. and have consulted on private online communities for banks Westpac, not for profits UNHCR & governments in SE Asia. Lecturer, social media, University of Sydney for 10 years and Laurel has 11,000 online students. Laurel Papworth personally connects to 6 million followers online and has taught around 100,000 people in the last 10 years how to be social media managers.

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