If you’re into basic numbers — and there’s a growing feeling that “unique viewers” isn’t necessarily the thing — Time marked about 50 million unique visitors in September. The thing you really want, these days, is engagement. Time is working on that too:
Time’s editors meet every morning at 9:45 to discuss stories for the upcoming day. After that meeting, Schweitzer, Ross, and Borchers gather to discuss the 15 or so stories they plan on promoting heavily and how they’ll use what Time calls its “external levers of distribution” — which range from its daily email newsletter and cross-promotions on other Time Inc. websites to working with the Time Inc. PR department and, of course, social media — to ensure that their stories are widely read and shared.
Of the three, Schweitzer is the longest tenured Time employee, having joined the company all the way back in August 2013, and their roles are emblematic of Time’s revamped digital strategy. Time had about 50 million unique visitors in both August and September, more than doubling the roughly 20 million it attracted the year before.
Their efforts go beyond social as well. The Ebola story discussed that morning, covering how some people are surviving the virus, was the top story in Time’s daily email the next morning. Called The Brief after the central feature of Time’s homepage, the email lists 12 things readers need to know each day, and it has an average open rate of around 40 percent. Time has more than 6 million likes and followers on both Twitter and Facebook, but Time assistant managing editor Sam Jacobs said the newsletter, which has about 650,000 subscribers, can drive significant traffic.
The key is, they are working on that. It’ll take time and resources and devotion, but the traditional media has a place and you can carve out a success story there in our brave new world. The method and end result may be unconventional, but that’s fine too.