The New York Times are experiencing a phase of rapid change. While social has been top of mind recently, they decided to pull together the disparate parties working on various aspects of “search” and “media” to create a unified, collaborative front for their search and social strategies. They treat each social platform differently, and find unique uses for each one while not abandoning the others. For example, they print an 800-word article for the magazine, and then allow content that didn’t make it into print to live as a longer web piece. Aside from their internal marketing teams, what’s clear is that they value (need) journalists who have a native understanding of how their content can most effectively reverberate through all of the possible strands of media distribution.
Jenna Wortham, a journalist for the Times, explained how her natural affinity manifests; when she tweets, she reveals her process providing readers an inside look at the ‘day in the life’. She doesn’t think it’s a great use of social media to solely promote yourself or your company with clicks. She says the more you engage – and what I think she means is invest yourself – the more people will follow even if there is no click back. That is, invest with content that is interesting, relatable, and shareable. The editor working on audience development pointed out that she found the most shareable stories to be ones of personal perseverance, service-oriented stories, stories that provoke discussion, and ones that appeal to a bit of readers narcissism (said affectionately). People want to share things that make them look “smart”.
The most important takeaway of the session for me was that people need a sense of continuity as opposed to being inundated by a barrage of content. There most be something to come back to or tune into again and again. Food for thought.