The New York Times has always been a leader, continuously publishing since 1851, winning 114 Pulitzer Prizes along the way; so it’s a safe bet to say that they are pretty good at what they do. But the digital age hasn’t exactly been the most glorious time in the illustrious history of one of the most popular newspapers in America - and it is this troubled past that makes the New York Times latest move even more risky, and more surprising.
The New York Times announced recently that they would start moving away from publishing directly to their website (which has a paywall), and instead place their articles directly on Facebook through a new Facebook publishing app. Why has such a move been brought about? Will it pay off? Furthermore, could it work for law firms?
The rise of social media has changed almost every aspect of business. Whether for brand promotion, sales or client engagement, social media will have been used to generate customers and drive traffic towards your site. The same can be said for news consumption. Indeed, the New York Times has lost 50% of its traffic to their homepage due to people being directed to links through social media.
It could be argued that such figures highlight the importance of social media, and the New York Times are simply jumping on the trend before others. A quick look at data, compiled over the last 24 months, can show why the New York Times has made such a bold move. According to statistics, the total print and digital circulation of the New York Times between April-September 2013 was 1,897,890, with the number rising in the same period in 2014 to 2,019,639.
The move to publishing work on a social media platform is considered an odd one until the print circulation is assessed. As all figures show the digital sector growing, the print media figures show continual decline. In 2013, the circulation was 676,633 with this number falling to 639,887 in 2014. In 2013, the New York Times Company reported an income of $64.8 million, 52% down from the 2012 result. This was followed with the company making $32 million in 2014 - suggesting a drastic change was called for.
By moving articles straight to Facebook where they will be hosted, the New York Times may be losing pageviews and revenue, but they are arguably building a stronger relationship with readers than competitors. They are adapting by going to where people go to read news and consume information. The more a piece of content is shared, the more people will see the content. The New York Times therefore seems to be building a trusted reputation and relying on people to share and be interested in the topic.
A few advertisements can be placed on the article, depending on what program you are operating on when reading it. You now no longer need to buy or even subscribe to the newspaper to read one of its articles. Instead, some of the finest pieces of content available online can be accessed for free.
While links could still be provided, and reach could be monitored (for advertisement purposes), the way this truly benefits the New York Times is in terms of reputation and brand building - the next time a reader of a freely accessible online article goes to buy a newspaper or look online for a news story, the New York Times is likely to be more prominent when a buying-decision is being made.
Whilst popular, reputable sites such as the New York Times, will immediately have content shared and can afford to lose short-term hits, the idea may not be as effective for law firms.
It is important to note that many of the stories that will be shared on Facebook will be on popular topics, such as sport, that appeal to a wider variety of people. Niche firms will not benefit as much by putting content on social media, in fact, it could prove detrimental. Unbundling content from your main site could result in a loss of organic traffic and affect your search rankings. Furthermore, it could be costly, while the New York Times and other media groups choosing to take advantage of Facebook’s publishing application page could attract advertisements on their digital content, it may be more difficult to do so for legal firms that attract a narrower audience.
The New York Times has the benefit of a large staff and an already established reputation and can afford to make a loss in the short term to gain over a longer period, but for many legal firms this is not possible. Law firms that only publish content on social media are unlikely to see benefits, as their ranking, profile and hits could all suffer as a result. Further, it is unlikely to be enough to drive traffic to a website, let alone encourage engagement and build brand reputation.
At Curated Media, we understand that when running a law firm and caring for clients, content creation can be the last thing on your mind. We believe that by getting to know our clients, we can create an online strategy that works both for their own and (more importantly) their clients’ needs. High quality content ensures you become more trusted by search engines as well as by potential or existing clients, which in turn improves your rankings and enquiry levels.With more and more law firms choosing to improve and outsource the quality of their content, it is important not to get left behind in an ever-growing competitive market.
If you would like some help to nurture your own content, Curated Media can help. We work with lawyers and law firms to help fulfill their online content needs. Our team of experienced writers, lawyers, online marketers and web developers have the practical knowledge to curate, as well as create.