This Tiny NYT Twitter Trick Will Make Your Content Snackable…and More Sharable

Guest article! Jonathan Rick is the president of the Jonathan Rick Group, a digital communications firm here in DC. Let him know which other websites have embraced prewritten pull-quote tweets by tweeting him at @jrick.

This Tiny NYT Twitter Trick Will Make Your Content Snackable…and More Sharable

How the New York Times uses its editorial expertise to present the perfect tweets for readers

By Jonathan Rick

Whether you love the paper or love to hate it, the New York Times is the king of digital journalism for a simple reason: it’s always innovating. Beyond making “snowfall” a verb, the so-called Gray Lady has in recent months overhauled its website, introduced new revenue streams, produced a viral video based verbatim on a deposition, bought its own native ads, launched an explainer microsite, and built a suite of apps.

These bells and whistles aren’t just pretty ornaments for a press release, but enlightening enhancements for the everyday reader. Indeed, there’s something for every audience: the designer, the stockholder, the videographer, the advertiser, the reporter, and the reader on the go.

For the social media strategist, the paper’s most significant innovation is a tiny tactic that makes stories easier to tweet. Often overlooked, this trick ought to be standard practice on every major website today. Let’s take a look.

Last year, the Times published an article detailing the auditions of former Saturday Night Live cast members. What made this piece exceptional? Leave aside that the article broke free of the usual constraints of a multiple-column layout. Forget the embedded videos and iconic images.

From a social perspective, the most enriching embellishment was that editors had preselected and prelinked the most tweetable lines. Here’s a screen shot from the interview with Tracy Morgan:


Tweet from NYT interview with Tracy Morgan

See that little blue bird between the second and third sentences? For digital marketers, this icon represents a golden new arrow in our quiver. Click it, and behold the bullseye:


Instead of your dull default text—typically [the headline] [full link]—we’re treated to a pull quote that’s been hand-tailored to the article at hand. Two things make this prewritten tweet notable:

  1. The link is written for Twitter, not Google. Instead of, we see This is what custom URLs are for. (C’mon, PR Daily—get with the program.)
  2. The call out to Tracy Morgan uses his handle (@RealTracyMorgan) instead of his name. As a result, anytime someone tweets this quote, Morgan will know.

Attention to details like these makes content snackable and thus sharable. Indeed, the technique is so sharable, it’s been copied by the likes of the Nieman Journalism Lab, GigaOM and Forbes. Just this week, the Los Angeles Times embraced and enhanced the tactic with its redesign.

Will your site be next?

Written by
Colin Delany
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