Posted to Volacci's blog on March 18th, 2011

Social media wears many different hats. Should your company be wearing them too?


Social media can be an engager, an adviser, an awareness raiser. It can build connections. Sometimes, it can burn bridges-- how many apologies have we seen for ill-received Twitter rants? But there is no doubt that social media, if used correctly can, and should, play an important role in your company. How do we know? Let’s take a look at how one of the big guns is utilizing social networks in its marketing campaigns.

The New York Times gets it. Earlier this week, the New York Times announced that they will be instituting a pay wall starting March 28 for their site, According to this article, non-subscribers will still have access to their front page and will be able to read 20 articles through the New York Times domain without paying each month. Once readers try to access the 21st article, they will be prompted to subscribe. The Times also noted that not all visits to the site will count toward the 20 article limit. And herein lies a pretty interesting decision, one they mentioned only briefly in their announcement: “The Times will allow access to people who arrive at its Web site through search engines like Google and social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. There will, however, be a five-article limit a day for people who visit the site from Google.”

So what does this mean?! It appears that all who venture to from Facebook or Twitter will be allowed to read for free. And there will be no limit to this. What’s interesting is that the NY Times seems to be saying something pretty poignant: That spreading their articles virally on social networks is more important to them than potential subscribers AND that these social networks trump the resulting traffic from Google.

If anything, this definitely signals a changing of the guard from Google to Facebook and Twitter. Google is still very important, there’s no mistaking that. But it’s not everything any longer. More and more, companies (and we’re not just talking about giants like the NY Times here) are turning, or at least sharing, the focus they had on Google with Twitter and Facebook. These social sites do something extremely important that Google currently cannot: They create a brand identity that your company can cultivate into a major following. Imagine you’re a huge Coca-Cola fan and you buy a case of defective bottles. You tweet: @CocaCola, what’s the deal?! All my cans came without the pop tops. If you get a response from the company, maybe an apology, maybe even a message offering you a free Coca-Cola t-shirt, don’t you feel almost immediately more connected with the company? More loyal?

That’s the idea. And it works for small businesses too. Garner a following on Facebook and Twitter, and encourage your fans and followers to engage with you. If they feel a personal connection with you as a company, they will be more likely to purchase your products and more likely to recommend you to family and friends.

What sort of social media hats is your company wearing? Here at Volacci, we’re wearing quite a few.