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New York Times Misfires by Hiring "Social Media Editor"

nytTime and time again I am saddened by companies hiring a "social media expert," and thinking that hiring one person to focus on inbound marketing will have a big impact.  And now an organization I respect a lot has done just that - see the Valleywag article "New York Times Hires Social Media Editor."

Companies try to do the right thing - they hear people talking about inbound marketing and how social media is an important component of marketing.  Then they hire an "expert." (In The Times' case, this expert was not an outside hire.)  The problem is that this is not the right strategy.  When TV first came out, I bet some advertising agencies hired a "TV expert" to do all things related to TV ads.  But the right strategy was to embrace TV as a mainstream platform, and train everyone in your agency to understand TV and incorporate it into all of your work, alongside print, radio, outdoor, etc.

What the New York Times Should Do:

  1. Train all writers on the basics of SEO.  The best time to "do SEO" is at the time you create the content.  That way the writing, title and keywords can all be incorporated into the original content.  Going back and rewriting or re-optimizing content is expensive and time consuming.
  2. Train all writers on social media.  Rather than having one person alone responsible for social media, train the entire company on it, and get everyone involved.  There is no way one person can use social media to any great effect.  Each person producing content should have a presence, develop relationships and promote their content.
  3. Provide an ongoing inbound marketing training program for everyone.  This will allow for continued learning and development as the tools and technologies change, and it can be a forum for sharing best practices and case studies of things that have worked well.

The whole point behind inbound marketing is that it is not some sort of bolt on to your existing company.  You get the best results when you re-think your business and business model, and involve the entire company.  At HubSpot nearly every employee is on Facebook and LinkedIn, many are on Twitter, probably more than half of us blog.  There is not one person on the marketing team doing inbound marketing, we don't have a social media marketing expert.  That would be akin to having just one "software marketing expert" in marketing at Microsoft.

The New York Times gets points for trying, but they need to re-think their strategy to make the most impact.

What do you think?  Do you have a "social media expert" at your company?

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