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Letting go of a 77,000 members Facebook group

The New York Times is letting go its 77,000 member Facebook group “The New York Times Cooking Community”

What would you do if you built something that became a bit too successful and it got out of hand?

This is a bit of what happened to the New York Times. In 2019, it started a Facebook group called “The New York Times Cooking Community” which now has close to 77,000 members.

And now it’s gotten too big.

It also seems it is now a group that is not that well aligned with the media’s objectives.

Ben Smith (from the NYT) provided some context as to why the NYT is letting the group go. Currently, the group is mostly the place where someone can post pictures of their culinary creations and collect comments and likes, rather than a place that actually drives people to the New York Times website.

And this is why the media has now decided that it will transfer moderation and ownership to the community, and they are looking for 10 to 20 moderators that will be able to take over animating the community, moderating comments and so on.

In an article published on the Nieman Journalism Lab’s website, Laura Hazard Owen details the situation and how a group initially created by the brand to drive subscriptions to its NYT Cooking product ended up being something else entirely.

Communities and human-to-human interactions are a great way to foster that connection and relationship between a brand and its audience, but as the NYT shows, it can sometimes go a different route, get bigger than you, and one has to be mature enough as a brand to simply let it go and let it live its own life.

Has your brand created online communities? Have those been a challenge to keep on track with the brand’s objectives? We would love to read your thoughts on this, get in touch with us!