NYT Explores New Twitter Search Products

The New York Times has big plans for Twitter.

The venerable news organization is exploring plans to build search products which can sift through thousands of Twitter feeds and pull together commentary on specific narrow topics. According to Martin Nisenholtz, senior vp of digital operations for The New York Times Company, the company has built such a product for its popular fashion-themed blog The Moment which aggregates Twitter commentary from both editors and readers related to the high-end fashion world.

To date The Moment has built an audience of over 1.2 million followers on Twitter, due in part to the popular of the Times’ tool. According to Nisenholtz, during a keynote address on Monday (Sept. 21) at the OMMA conference in New York, the Times has a unique opportunity to serve in prominent intermediary role on Twitter—as part guide and part editor.

“If you go out and search Twitter, it doesn’t work very well,” he said. “It’s very literal.” But if The Times can build multiple search products for Twitter that better understand context, there “is a lot of power in organizing and curating this world.”  Therefore, the company is looking into building similar Twitter aggregators for what could be “thousands of categories,” he said.

Beside niche content, The Times’ core Web site is also enjoying a Twitter-driven traffic boost, reported Nisenholtz. NYTimes.com is adding roughly 15,000 followers each week. “It’s a big deal,” he said.

Also turning out to be a solid source of social media traffic is Facebook. The Times has accumulated about half a million followers since building out a presence on the site in 2007. And that audience is also helping gradually broaden the Times’ demographics, said Nisenholtz. Unlike NYTimes.com, The Times Facebook following is predominantly female, and 80 percent of it is under the age of 35.