Running Times is one of the two most popular magazines covering the sport of running in the United States (Runner’s World being the other). The sport of running is one of the most popular participant sports in the country. There is a large audience upon which to draw and a need to provide content beyond the two monthly print publications as many runners search the Internet for training advice and race information.
Running Times claims to be the “authoritative voice for the dedicated runner.” The magazine covers the sport of running from the high school level to the professional, from road races to track and field. The magazine provides news about the sport and the top athletes as well as training information, stories, and commentary. Running Times main product is the monthly print magazine of the same name. But as discussed in a previous entry, an effective media strategy can help enhance the visibility of a print magazine and the product that is being covered. This increases subscriber retention and also helps the magazine reach a much wider audience. To this end, Running Times maintains an official website and a presence on Facebook, Twitter, iTunes, and Blip.tv. Let’s see if the online content is up-to-date and integrated.Official Site
The official website is a key part of the social media strategy for any magazine. Running Times maintains a well designed website that is filled with up-to-date content. The site provides daily news about the sport of running, web exclusive articles, and reprints of articles in current and past print issues. The site links to a community forum, podcasts, running shoe database, and training/injury information. There's also an RSS feed. One drawback to the site is that there isn't any link to Facebook, Twitter, or Blip.tv. It would nice to see a “Find us on Facebook” button or link somewhere on the site.
The Running Times fan page on Facebook currently has 2,780 fans. The page is kept up-to-date with content and relevant links and articles. The links lead to articles on the main site but, as mentioned, not from the main site back to Facebook. So users can move from Facebook to the Running Times site but not in the other direction. The page also contains past cover photos, fan photos, a discussion board, and an RSS Feed. The discussion board is not very active but users are active in posting comments under articles on the wall and the editors at Running Times often respond. This kind of interaction is a great way to maintain contact with subscribers and builds a more loyal audience.
The Running Times Twitter page is updated with links to articles every few days via tweets. There are currently 1,779 followers. The strange thing about the links is that they link back to Facebook. So, in order to read an article that is linked in a tweet, a user would follow the link back to Facebook and then has to click on another link on Facebook to get to the source article on Running Times. It would be more effective to just link from the tweet to the original source.
Running Times has posted sixteen training vidoes on Blip.tv. The videos are excellent resources for runners in training.
Running Times Radio
Running Times offers podcasts on iTunes, Facebook, and the main site. There are currently sixty-seven podcasts on iTunes, including the sixteen videos that are on Blip.tv.
Running Times does a great job of providing additional resources and content online that is not found in their print magazine. They also do a good job of matching the online product to the style and content of the print magazine. They come close to reaching their goal to be the “authoritative voice for the dedicated runner.” However, the sites are not fully integrated. It would be a good idea to link from the home page to Twitter and Facebook. This may be a small item but a user visiting the main site may never get to read the comments that other users have posted on Facebook. Thus, the user misses a chance to become involved in the discussion and interact with other users and the staff at Running Times.