28 September 2009

NY Times Explores Twitter Search Tool

The New York Times is experimenting with search tools to sift through Twitter feeds and pull together commentary on thousands of specific topics, Mediaweek's Mike Shields reports.

The company already has built one such product, for its popular fashion-themed blog The Moment. The Moment, which has more than 1.2 million followers on Twitter, aggregates commentary about the high-end fashion industry from editors and readers, Times Senior VP for Digital Operations Martin Nisenholtz said.

Nisenholtz says the Times has a unique opportunity to play a prominent intermediary role on Twitter, as part guide and part editor.

“If you go out and search Twitter, it doesn’t work very well,” he said. “It’s very literal.” But if the newspaper can build multiple search products for Twitter that better understand context, there “is a lot of power in organizing and curating this world.”

Overall, the Times’ core Web site is enjoying a Twitter-driven traffic boost, adding roughly 15,000 followers each week, Nisenholtz reported.

Facebook also is a solid source of social media traffic; the Times has accumulated half a million followers since extending its presence on the site in 2007. Unlike NYTimes.com, the newspaper's Facebook followers are predominantly female, and 80 percent are under age 35.

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