In the If You Can't Beat Them, Join Them, Umair Haque, director of the Havas Media Lab, suggests the New York Times merge with or take over the social media networking site Twitter. As several daily newspapers have closed up shop this year, much of the blame for revenue declines has been put on their inability to make up for losing the classified business to online sites like Craigslist. Is Twitter a threat? On Harvard Business Review, Haque writes that "nothing is more timely than Twitter." And "timely" used to be the bread and butter for news organizations. But technology has greatly affected the whole notion of timely. Here is what Haque says acquiring Twitter would provide the Times:
1. Viral distribution
Twitter is fast becoming a viral distribution platform for not just the NYT's news — but everyone's content. Record labels have spent a decade fighting an unwinnable war against viral distribution — file-sharing — and have destroyed their ability to create value in the process. Newspapers are making the same mistake — and acquiring Twitter would turn the tables. It's the 21st century's paperboy.
Distribution, by itself, is so industrial era. As we've discussed, next gen channels are really circuits. The tremendous amounts of context floating around on Twitter could help the NYT rebuild detailed information about people, products, services, and news.
3. Relational capital
Use that info to target people and saturation bomb them with ads? That's so lame. A better idea is to use the knowledge on Twitter as a way to let companies build real, meaningful relationships with people — relationships that are opt-in, multi-threaded, and always-on, like Comcast is starting to do.
4. Business model experimentation
Where's the business model? Everywhere. Here's one: charge companies for the right to talk back to people on Twitter enriched by NYT content. Here's another: charge other content providers for the right to distribute via Twitter. Here's yet another: charge advertisers for the right to discuss products and services with people via Twitter. The point is that theNYT could experiment with literally hundreds — like I say: business models happen.
This is more modest proposal than it is actual advice from Haque, but it does point to one way that a big old media company might rethink its strategy. And it points to just how social media is changing the playbook for business (more on that throughout the week--stay "tuned"). Read the article here.