New York Times Case Study on Successful Use of Social Media
Written By: Katherine (Katie) Kelly
Through the exercises associated with assignment one, the most important thing I took away is that companies that successfully use social media do so in a way that targets the needs of specific audiences.
I am a fan of several companies and brands on Facebook, but there are very few corporate-style pages that I actually will visit. I rarely visit the New York Times Facebook page because it is a mainly a conglomeration of links to articles, and is far more difficult to maneuver than their website. Articles aren’t grouped by subject, and there isn’t a search function. The text runs together, and there are few photos posted so the eyes have no resting point. The NYT tends to update so frequently that their updates tend to fill up my newsfeed and I have them “hidden.” From this experience I’ve learned the importance of posting on a more limited basis as a corporate entity to Facebook. Over use will cause followers to become annoyed and hide your feeds, thus ignoring your message. A more successful corporate use of Facebook that I have found is the page for The Grand Hotel. Facebook is a more fitting medium for this group, since they tend to focus on events and photos. They also limit their posts to a couple each day, so they are not “annoying” and are less prone to being hidden.
An important part of using social media in business is choosing the right social network. The NYT seems to have a better fit on Twitter. They have recognized the importance of audience targeting and segmentation. They have dozens of different Twitter feeds, allowing followers to receive only the information that is important to them. This highly-segmented feed system is not as common in Twitter use yet, perhaps because a majority of companies do not have the investment capabilities to create and maintain that many accounts. My favorite feed is @nytimesbooks, but I also like @NYTimesAd. A full list of the New York Times Twitter feeds is available by clicking on this screenshot:
The 120 character limit is fitting to a headline style media, where they are used to getting the hook in a few words and leading followers to another location for more detailed information (similar to a “News in Brief” heading.) The NYT is being innovative with their development of multiple, highly-segmented twitter feeds. They are also looking at new ways to capitalize off of the social media craze. The proliferation of social media has cut into profits for newspapers, and VentureBeat reports that the New York Times is planning to fight back by charging fees to frequent NYT website visitors, including those directed there by clicking on social media links. This new idea may be the one that saves the newspaper in a time of shrinking profits and market share.
I can take the principals of segmenting the audience and choosing the right medium and put it to work now. I do communications for the MSU Graduate School dean’s office. We have segmented our twitter feeds into groups of current students, prospective students, and in the future, alumni. Since the majority of the information we disseminate comes in brief statements and directs followers to websites for more information, we have opted to use Twitter. We do not use Facebook because we seldom host events or photos that would work with the Facebook format. I plan to apply these tactics in setting up social network marketing for the other offices I do communications for.