The New Yorker gains 16,000 new fans during Facebook experiment

A week ago, the New Yorker released a free Jonathan Franzen essay that would have normally resided behind its paywall. The only catch? You had to “like” its Facebook page and access the story through the social networking giant. And you had to do so within the one-week time period the story would appear.

The move was widely covered by the news media, likely adding an even larger boost to the magazine’s fan acquisition. The results? When I wrote my initial post, the Facebook page had about 202,000 fans. As of today — one week later — it has 218,000. So a growth of 16,000 new fans, or 8%.

How much are these new fans worth? According to various studies, the acquisition of a new fan is worth anywhere from $3.60 to $136.38. I’d guess that these new fans would be worth a lot less than those who liked the page organically. As businesses who use Groupon are quickly finding out, people who come in for a cheap deal rarely return when that deal goes away. It’s also worth noting that any future free stories wouldn’t be met with as much press coverage, so it’d be interesting to measure the growth of the next free story.

I’ve emailed a New Yorker spokeswoman and will update if she responds.