I am The New Yorker's newest fan; I just subscribed to their magazine, but I've been reading their articles online frequently. I don't often type in newyorker.com to find the content I'm looking for, though. I click on the articles they post on Facebook throughout the day and read those. I wanted to learn how The New Yorker shares their content as both a print and online publication, and how that might have changed over the last decade.
What I learned from BuzzFeed
Buzzfeed's profile picture
- BuzzFeed never posts on Facebook at exact times; they post at 12:01 AM, 1:01 AM, and so on. A Google search on this did not produce any results; I wondered if there was a point to their strange posting times, but BuzzFeed doesn't seem to share their social media secrets. My theory is that BuzzFeed wants the most traffic on their posts, so they choose times that are probably slightly different from their competitors.
- They post once every hour between 12:00 AM and 8:00 AM, and then post every 45 minutes for the rest of the day. The pattern didn't vary between Monday and Friday, and it's clearly based on an audience that is likely to wake up around 8:00 AM and stay up until at least midnight.
- Since BuzzFeed is specifically designed to be shared on social media, they don't write unique captions for their posts. Rather than creating captions for their shared content, they use the subtitle for their Facebook caption. For example, in this article:
- BuzzFeed doesn't post their articles immediately. In fact, the article above was posted to the website (in the BuzzFeed News section) on Saturday, April 8th, but was not posted on their Facebook until Monday, April 10th. Though the article was considered "news," BuzzFeed didn't deem it necessary to share to their largest following base immediately; why? Do they, like ing, get more clicks and page visits on weekdays?
- Their photos are, like ing, not unique to their Facebook. They use visuals (stock photos, usually) that also make appearances at the top of the articles on their website. Some of Buzzfeed's photos seem like really poor quality screenshots or even snapchats, sometimes. It doesn't seem that they put a lot of emphasis on taking good pictures.
- They post or share at least one video each day. Most of their non-article content comes from other BuzzFeed Facebook pages, such as BuzzFeed News or Tasty, and they simply share the other pages' posts to the main BuzzFeed page.
Here's my spreadsheet that kept track of all of BuzzFeed's posts on the two days I studied them:
What I learned from The New Yorker
The New Yorker's profile picture
- The New Yorker posts MORE THAN BUZZFEED! This fact shocked me. Granted, it's only true because BuzzFeed has multiple Facebook pages that post throughout the day, but their main page posts slightly less than The New Yorker's page. The New Yorker posts once every hour between 9:30 PM and 5:00 AM. From there, they post articles every half hour, and other content, such as cartoons or videos, every fifteen minutes until about 3:00 PM. (Note how the two pages have the same strategy, but apply it differently based on their audiences. The New Yorker assumes that their audience works a typical day job, and posts based on those hours, including lunchtime).
- They post their articles more than once, even in the same day. This particular article was shared three times on Monday, April 10th:
- They post their online content and their print content, much like ing. Although I was not surprised by this discovery, I was surprised by how often they posted their print content. (See above point). They even share their cover online each Monday.
- They post cartoons and videos between articles, but only during the day. And usually around lunchtime.
- Their photos also come from their articles (like BuzzFeed and ing). They use cartoons and illustrations in almost every non-political article.
- One difference between The New Yorker and other publications is that they don't often discuss "breaking news," but rather, they do longer, later pieces about the effects of said news. They report things that are relevant but not immediate news, which makes their content unique and shareable at different times. The best example popped up on my newsfeed last week; The New Yorker had written negatively about United Airlines in 2014. They reposted it on Facebook following the latest scandal.
- They always write one sentence as a caption for their articles, seemingly without exception. Sometimes the sentences are hard to read and complex, but other times they simply say who drew a cartoon. Unlike BuzzFeed, The New Yorker uses captions that are unique to their Facebook.
Here's my spreadsheet that kept track of all of The New Yorker's posts on the two days I studied them:
How this applies to ing MAgazine
Although the purpose and reach of ing Magazine is incredibly different from both of these publications and their social media, there are valuable lessons to be learned from them.
- Perhaps the most important idea is that ing should cater its print content more significantly to its online presence. If writers specifically wrote their headlines and subtitles to be trend-worthy or shareable (read: BuzzFeed-esque) on Facebook, it might be easier to garner clicks and likes, as well as create captions for all social media forums.
- Content does not have to be shared only once. Our especially "engaging" posts, such as COOKing videos or even the recipes in general, can be shared when we're lacking new articles, particularly during two-month issues. We could potentially post articles that never made it to the Facebook, so long as they're not irrelevant.
- The best times to post seem to be in the morning when people are waking up and lunchtime. BuzzFeed's posts remain consistent between 8:00 AM and 12:00 AM, but The New Yorker gears up their posts in the morning and early afternoon. This means we might want to post in the morning and afternoon; perhaps an article in the morning and different content in the afternoon.
- If possible, we should produce more non-article content. Although videos would be ideal, photos, memes, and gifs can also be effective. If we want to share more on the Facebook but don't have enough articles for the month, using extra visuals to promote something might get us more attention.
- If my theory is correct, we should post at less conventional times (as in, 4:01 instead of 4:00).
A short History of BuzzFeed's Social MEdia
- In 2001, BuzzFeed founder Jonah Peretti sent an email to Nike. In the email, he requested a pair of shoes with a custom message on the sides. He wanted a pair of Nikes that read "sweatshop," which was of course, a dig at the company's controversial production. Following a funny exchange between himself and the company, Peretti sent the emails to big networks, who then published the story. Peretti went viral before viral was a thing.
- After leaving Huffpost and a teaching job, Peretti begins BuzzFeed in 2006.
- In 2014, Peretti moves BuzzFeed's main focus to social media platforms.
- In 2015, BuzzFeed launches its U.S. app. The app reflects the publication's interest in social media.
- In 2015, BuzzFeed's video revenue increased from 15% to 35%.
- One of BuzzFeed's most viral posts debuted in 2015.
- In 2016, 77% of their content was on social media platforms, rather than their own website.
- Also in 2016, BuzzFeed created an application that expanded globally into countries like Canada and Australia.
"As Peretti notes, “In traditional media, organizations need to make things that will appeal to 80 percent of the population. In social media, it is quite the opposite. The more specific our content is, the more useful it is to that audience.”" -Entrepreneur
A short History of The New Yorker's Social media
- In 2010, Nicholas Thompson became the magazine's digital editor. It was his goal to make the website a standalone publication rather than a mere addition to the magazine.
- In 2011, the website took control of its own ads.
- From 2012 to 2013, the website's revenue increased by 49%. This was because of the increase in unique web content, the new ads, and the new digital strategy.
- In 2014, The New Yorker took down its paywall, meaning people could read a lot more content for free. When they put the paywall back up, they saw a huge spike in their subscriptions, probably due to people panicking about losing their access.
- In 2015, subscriptions were up by 61%.
- Also in 2015, The New Yorker decided to publish 15 unique pieces to their website each day.
"Strategic use of social media has also been key to growing the website's audience, Thompson said. As with most outlets, Facebook is one of the primary traffic drivers for The New Yorker. But the magazine has diversified its social media presence, establishing accounts on LinkedIn, Pinterest and Google+ in an attempt to find a wider audience for The New Yorker's content." -poynter.org
After doing this research into big publications, I became curious about the smaller ones.
So, what about other local publications' Social media?
Not everyone can be the world's biggest media company, or a pre-established, international publication. That's why I also spent a week observing Lansing's City Pulse. They have almost 8,500 likes on Facebook, which means they reach a lot more than ing, but a lot less than BuzzFeed.
City Pulse's Facebook photo
- They mainly post articles, but weekly, they post a new picture of their cover. Occasionally, they post a status update of breaking news, such as about the status of Lansing as a sanctuary city.
- The City Pulse receives anywhere from 4-80 reactions on a given post. Their political and more controversial articles receive more likes than their arts and culture posts.
- However, their most liked post was about a celebrity; Alton Brown visited Strange Matter before heading to The Wharton Center: 326 likes.
- They don't appear to generate content specific to their social media. Other than those occasional status updates, the social media seems to just post a few of their articles here and there.
- The social media photos are the same as those from the articles, much like ing. Most of them look like professional photos, while few looked blurry and dark.
- They don't seem to have a precise schedule for posting. Their posts are somewhat sporadic, occurring mainly in the middle of the week and at seemingly random times throughout the day.
- On average, their captions are sentence-length and unique to the Facebook posts. In general, they are summarize the article. Sometimes, the caption includes quotes from the article or a person.
Here's my spreadsheet that kept track of all of City Pulse's posts on the two days I studied them:
How this applies to ing
The City Pulse and ing are both local Lansing-area publications. They both publish arts and culture and current event pieces, but there is one genre missing from ing that the City Pulse gets a lot of attention for (at least on social media): political. While City Pulse doesn't seem to have a structural plan for their social media, they do have a preexisting reader base, which has probably helped them gain likes and followers. So, does ing need to establish its readers before expecting more likes and follows? Does it need to publish political pieces before it can have a better reputation? My evaluation of the City Pulse seems to have left me with more questions than I started with.
Most of what I know about social media is from observation, and this project extended that. While I appreciate the social media campaigns of BuzzFeed and The New Yorker, I don't think that ing can emulate that. Based on my investigation into those publications as well as the City Pulse, it seems as if ing needs a reader base before it can really build its social media following. However, that's not to say that ing's social media can't be built while we work on the reader base, and maybe a successful enough campaign will contribute to our readership, as well. What I did learn is that ing should cater their print content to their online presence. Titles, subtitles, and images should all leave people wanting more, because if they want more, they'll click the link. Perhaps we should also experiment with post times, based on BuzzFeed's odd choice in timing. After this project, I will continue to observe successful social media campaigns, with an emphasis on local publications. I think that with a focus on online content and new videos, shared memes, etc., ing will be on its way to being a successful social media campaign too.