New York Times takes a step into the social networking realm today by launching a Facebook application called the New York Times News Quiz. The simple application presents users with a daily (Monday-Friday) 5 question, multiple choice quiz about the top news stories as determined by the New York Times editorial staff.The
Users are assigned a "Times IQ," which is a numerical representation of how up-to-date they are on the current goings on in the world. Users of the Times app also get to compare their news knowledge with their friends and the rest of Facebook.
When Facebook released their platform earlier this year, the Washington Post was one of the first major print newspapers to jump on board with their wildly successful Political Compass application -- a 10 question quiz to determine your approximate political leanings. Even though the Compass is listed in the "Just for Fun" category, it has garnered close to 350,000 users.
Unfortunately for the Washington Post, their application doesn't do much to push users to the newspaper's web site. The New York Times has taken a different tactic, however, and done a lot to nudge users toward their content. First, of course, by creating an app that seeks user engagement on a daily basis. Unlike the Post application, which you use once then wear as a badge on your profile, the NYT app encourages users to interact with it every day as fresh news quizzes arrive. This should not only get users more involved with the New York Times brand, but also play to Facebook's new activity metrics and perhaps make the app more visible to Facebook at large.
Second, the application ties in current newspaper content very well. After taking the quiz, users are given links to corresponding stories in the Times, and also given an option to study for the next day's quiz by reading up on today's top 5 stories on the New York Times web site. Unlike the Post, the Times app is specifically aimed at turning Facebook users into NYT readers.
Whether it works will largely depend on Facebook's appetite for current events. Turning news into a friendly competition with your friends, and making it easily digestible (i.e., just 5 stories per day, with multiple choice answers) were both good choices, in my opinion. And anything that raises the level of consciousness about current events among the world's youth is a good thing.