New York Times Finds Success with Facebook Campaign

Does anybody think the New York Times really wanted to know what visitors to its Facebook page believed Barack Obama needs to do as his first post-inauguration action? Even if the paper wasn’t truly interested in finding out, the Times got something out of just asking the question: lots of new Facebook fans.

The Obama question was part of a post-election Facebook ad campaign that New York Times President Scott Heekin-Canedy said, in an internal memo, was designed to “engage the Facebook community in a conversation about the election outcome.” The campaign included a “roadblock” video ad on the Facebook homepage as well as the interactive question about Obama’s first day duties.

Heekin-Canedy’s eight-page letter said the campaign exceeded its creators’ expectations on a number of fronts.

“From our perspective, the home page roadblock campaign was a great success, garnering us 4.3 times the value of our spend,” wrote Heekin-Canedy. Company spokeswoman Stacy Green said the Times is not disclosing the cost of the campaign, which was created in-house.

He said the company’s brand message reached 68.3 million people and resulted in a huge increase in the number of people who signed up to be “fans” of The New York Times on the Facebook 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,” wrote Heekin-Canedy. The Facebook page was launched in November 2007.

The company gained even more Facebook friends in the days that have passed since then. It now has about 184,000.

In addition to boosting its ranks of Facebook fans, the company launched the campaign with the hope of raising awareness of its NYTimes.com Web site as being “an interactive news center,” according to the memo. The company wisely tapped into post-election Obama fever by giving its Facebook fans a way to send to friends virtual renditions of a New York Times front page that carried an “Obama Wins” headline. More than 400,000 people sent the history-soaked messages.

According to Heekin-Canady, Facebook ranked the Times’ campaign as being one of the most successful in the social networking site’s history.

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