BusinessWeek has launched a social media site called Business Exchange. It’s a combination of bookmarking and social networking.
The site is a little like Delicious, Digg and Facebook all rolled into one. But Business Exchange has a certain gravitas and serious business tone. Unlike Facebook or other social media  sites that started out as consumer sites, you don’t have to suffer through being poked or chased by vampires or other distractions.
Business Exchange lets users bookmark business news, blog articles, tools and other online resources to share with others. The site is arranged according to topics. Topics can be broad functional areas, such as Business Law, Small Business Marketing, and Search Engine Optimization. Or the topics can be more specific and timely, such as: Lehman Brothers, Fed Bailing out Bear Stearns, and even Starbucks.
You can also suggest new topics, subject to administrative approval:
Just about any format of online content can be bookmarked and saved — news items, blog articles, videos, tools, white papers. Readers can comment on news items submitted, too.
When you first register at the site you set up a profile. If you are a member of LinkedIn, you can import your LinkedIn profile to save duplicate effort in filling out a new profile.
Another feature of the site allows you to add to your network on the site by “following” other business people using Business Exchange. It looks like there are already industry leaders such as John Battelle and John Jantsch using the site, as well as numerous BusinessWeek editors and writers.
You can see the topics each person is interested in and their recent activity. That way, if you want to bring a certain article or blog post to the attention of someone else in the network, you could save content under the topics they follow. As of this writing, there is no way to connect with other people directly in the site via messaging or other communications, however.
To further share content, there is a widget you can embed in your site that displays your latest activity, including the content you’ve saved. I am using the widget over the right sidebar — here’s a non-interactive image of the widget:
According to the press release, content shared in the Business Exchange has the potential to be highlighted in the print editions of BusinessWeek, too.
Right now the site is still in Beta. Beta means that some functions are still being tested and all features may not be rolled out or may be subject to modification. There is a link at the top right corner of each page where you can submit feedback.
Business Exchange is an example of the way forward-thinking media companies are interacting with customers and the public in sharing information. The idea is to engage readers and add value by providing a helpful information management tool they can use.