Back when the New York Times launched their social networking site TimesPeople we agreed to give it a whirl but expressed hesitation over adding another social networking start up to our list — why bother when Facebook was such familiar, user-friendly, one-stop-shop? Well looks like the Times may agree with us — at least about the friendliness part. Turns out earlier this month in the heady days following the election before we all returned to the reality of the Depression 2.0 the Times took out an exclusive ad on the front page of Facebook, which included a brief video of Barack Obama and an invitation to submit comments. The ad was apparently seen by 68.3 million people, and received 34,000 comments. Voila! According to an internal memo the Times quadrupled the numbers on their Facebook fan page.
We increased our number of fans more than three times in just 24 hours — from 49,000 to 164,000 — and in the process far exceeded our 2008 goal of 100,000 fans…Possibly the greatest success of this campaign, however, is that our fans continue to rapidly grow…into a powerful, free word-of-mouth network that we will leverage for future marketing messages.
Say what you will about their decisions re: dividend etc., the Times is far and away leader of the pack when it comes to making inroads online. Now if only someone could figure out how to make money off of Facebook.