The New Yorker magazine is using exclusive content on Facebook to drive social networking buzz as it, like many print magazines and newspapers, tries to profitably harness the Internet.
The magazine has made an article by Jonathan Franzen available through Facebook for a week, and readers of the Conde Nast publication will have to go to the New Yorker’s Facebook page and “like” it to be able to read the story online. Alternatively, they can access the story with a paid digital subscription to the New Yorker website.
“Our goal with this isn’t just to increase our fans,” says Alexa Cassanos, a spokeswoman for The New Yorker. “We want to engage with people who want to engage on a deeper level.”
The move comes at a time when print newspapers and magazines, facing declining circulations, are looking for new ways to make money from online publications. Major publishers like the Wall Street Journal and its owner, News Corp’s Rupert Murdoch, have been adamant that consumers will pay for news. And in late March, the New York Times put up a paywall, charging readers for access to its some of its news.
The other side, led by Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post, says news will be free, and publishers who don’t change from their archaic business model are doomed to fail.
The New Yorker’s experiment takes a slightly different route in creating value for online content. Although the New Yorker won’t make direct profit from getting its online readers to like a specific article, it will gain valuable information about its readers, which it can then feed through to advertisers.
It can use Facebook Insights to find out a reader’s age, gender, location and how many people he or she shared the article with. Through the Like model, the magazine could also increase its fanbase on Facebook, people who could later become paying subscribers.
The quest for a steady revenue stream from online articles and publications is intensifying as the use of mobile devices for news consumption continues to grow, and readers swap their morning newspapers for iPads and other devices.
There is no set model for profitability yet, but some publications are finding their way. The Wall Street Journal said recently the number of tablet subscribers paying to read its content climbed to 200,000, fueling publishers’ hopes that tablets will be a viable distribution channel for print media.