The Economist wants more Facebook and Twitter friends

The Economist wants 500,000 Facebook fans and 750,000 Twitter followers within six months.

The Economist wants 500,000 Facebook fans and 750,000 Twitter followers within six months.

The magazine is one of the latest big-name traditional publishers to realise the potential value of social networking sites. In an interview with the Financial Times, Economist.com publisher Ben Edwards said readers will soon been able to log into the site and comment on articles using their Facebook identity, via Facebook Connect.

The website will also become more like a social network itself, with readers being able to create profiles and earn a reputation through others rating their comments.

Edwards said he hopes that social networks will boost traffic and develop deeper engagement with readers.

The Economist currently has around 90,000 Twitter followers and 180,000 Facebook fans. It will be spending tens of thousands of pounds to meet its target and the changes to the site will be completed within three to four months.

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