Having featured greats such as Dorothy Parker, and regularly featuring writers of the calibre of David Sedaris, The New Yorker has, and continues to be a recognised leader when it comes to quality writing. However, when it comes to its online strategy, they have been somewhat lacking.
With a paywall so clumsy and easy to hack — to use the term very loosely looking into the magazine’s online strategy last year, Kevin Shalvey said “it was as if an absentminded surgeon had left his scalpel, forceps and gauze inside a patient”. Without a doubt a serious revamp of that strategy was needed. This week, the magazine began revamping its online strategy and your business can learn from them.
Late last year, Facebook released a new tool for brands, the “reveal tab,” which this week the New Yorker utilised. What this function does is incentivise users of Facebook to “like” a page by promising content, such as product discounts or coupons once the like button is clicked. The New Yorker, in what apparently has been a first for a media outlet, has used the feature to allow people who ‘like’ their page to access an article by Pulitzer prize winning author Jonathan Franzen for a week.
On the website this same article is behind a paywall.
As Alistair Fairweather, pointed out in a column on the institution of The New York Times paywall, “the web is like a shop front for your publication,” where possibly millions are walking past looking in, to continue the analogy. To gain that kind of exposure would be prohibitively expensive Fairweather explains. Essentially as he put it, “all that ‘free’ content is actually great advertising for your brand.” For media houses, the big issue has been how to get readers used to the idea that they must now pay for content that up till now they have been receiving for free.
This “big-issue,” has not been an issue for The New Yorker. The reason plainly being that its readers are used to the idea that for certain articles they will need to pay. Therefore for The New Yorker to suddenly release this till now paid-for content for free, even if it’s only for a limited time, through Facebook could be referred to as counter-intuitive.
However, there’s another aspect.
Facebook “likes” are not only a metric of how popular your product is. With the correct analytics, namely the freshly relaunched Facebook Insights, likes can actually prove to be lucrative to your business. By looking at the data gained through Facebook Insights, any business getting people to ‘like’ its page, such as by utilising the reveal-tab, can learn an invaluable amount about its consumer.
As a Facebook representative said on the launch of Facebook Insights, “the updated analytics tool helps website operators better understand what visitors are interacting with so they can optimise site content and keep people coming back for more.”
What this means when stripped down is that with this tool, The New Yorker will be able to see, down to location, gender, age and more who is interested in what it is offering.
Of course, it’s far too early to surmise that “reveal tab,” and “Facebook Insights” will ever or could ever, replace the traditional forms of market and consumer research. However, when looking at just how much your business may be spending or how much you wish your business could be spending on market and consumer research, and then looking at how useful these tools are possibly proving to be for the New Yorker one cannot deny its stroke of genius.