Taking A Look At NPR's Shining Social Media Strategy

NPR LogoThe media world is chattering about the “death of old media” at the hands of new media like Twitter and Facebook, but with such bold claims, it is important to look at the details. National Public Radio – NPR – has been doing news, talk, and entertainment radio for forty years, and they may just be the mainstream media outlet to best use social media as part of their online strategy. Here is a look at some of the ways that NPR is using social media engage with their online community.

The NPR Community

Right on the NPR website, there is an active community of fans and listeners. By visiting the NPR Community, users can create a unique personal profile and interact with NPR stories, radio program content, and staff. There are some basic groups that users can join, and there are lists of the most active users and staff members. However, some of the more exciting social media activity that NPR engages in happens on Facebook and Twitter.
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Friend NPR on Facebook

NPR has a community of just under 750,000 on its Facebook page. They update their page about eight to ten times a day with feature stories from their radio programs. Offering everything from a first taste of an artist’s new album, to how-to guides to farming your own backyard vegetables, to the latest on US cyberwar policies, there is something on NPR’s Facebook page for everyone. And they have a list of all of the individual NPR programs, like All Things Considered and Weekend Edition, that have a separate fan page. All-in-all, NPR’s Facebook presence is active, robust, and engages with the community in a meaningful way.

Follow NPR on Twitter

NPR’s Twitter accounts are some of the most active of all of mainstream media’s. They have two accounts, NPR Politics and NPR News, with a combined following of over 2 million users. They mainly Tweet headlines from their radio programs hourly throughout the day, with some Tweets requesting for interviews, advertising their Facebook page, and other odds and ends.
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Watch NPR Radio

Although NPR is a media company that focuses mostly on radio, they do have two video account at Youtube and Vimeo. Between the two accounts, they have uploaded about 150 videos including audio slideshows, live studio recordings, and video correspondents. Although video is not their medium of choice, NPR updates these sites as frequently as they appear to produce videos, and they encourage comments and community participation.

NPR Mobile

One of the most robust elements of NPR’s social media strategy is moving content to mobile devices. They have optimized their website for mobile browsing on PDAs and the iPad, and they have applications for iPhone, iPad, and Android.

How Does NPR’s Social Media Strategy Stack Up?

So what’s the verdict? NPR’s social media strategy is targeted, broad, and active. They have a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and mobile. Each account is maintained by staff and is updated on a weekly (Youtube) or daily (Twitter, Facebook, mobile) basis. NPR has clearly positioned itself as a leading mainstream media source that is adapting readily to the advent of social media. As a respected news source offline, NPR is positioned to be a leader in the move from off- to on-line radio broadcasting. Far from waiting for social media to subsume their business, NPR has been active in moving much of their content online and engaging with online users through a variety of platforms.