Putting Social Media to Work for your Print Business

We really enjoyed this article from Mashable and wanted to share it with our readers. It talks about how print media businesess are looking at social media as a help for, rather than a hindrance to, their business image and marketing campaigns. Take a page from their book, and think about how you can use online conversations and possibilities to grow the physical side of your own company!

7 Ways Print Magazines Are Using Social Media to Engage Readers

Gina Gotthilf
for Mashable.com
February 9 2011
The demise of print media is commonly attributed to the success of free, easily accessible digital media. However, some editors have embraced it as a way to enhance their magazines’ content and increase revenue. We’ve compiled seven ways in which magazines are successfully employing social media to create an editorial journey for readers, rather than just a linear reading experience.

1. Curating Content.

The proliferation of online content has led many publications to embrace collaboration and external content curation. Editors are striving to provide the most value to their readers in part by recommending articles from other sources and niche publications to follow, as well as by sharing links posted by their community. On Twitter, magazines have begun to recognize that being seen as the authority in their field is more important than just tweeting their own content. Editors are occasionally retweeting external links that they find relevant to their community and using Twitter lists to suggest additional accounts worth following. Tumblr, the platform recently touted as the print magazine messiah based on its (apparent) rescue of Newsweek, is also being used to curate content in the form of reblogging and “Tumblr Tuesday” recommendations. Newsweek, The Atlantic and The Huffington Post (the ultimate content curator) all reblog content from around the web on their Tumblogs. The result is a network of dynamic, interactive and ultra-relevant magazine outlets.

2. Expanding Editorial Content

Magazines have always sought to understand their audience and cater to their interests. Now, savvy publications are using social media to harvest ideas based on feedback from their social media communities to efficiently craft future issues. By asking questions across social profiles, monitoring comments and measuring response rates, editors can measure their readers’ pulse more accurately than ever. Some editors are even using social media as a direct source of content. The Travel + Leisure Facebook Page, for instance, wisely entices its fans with the opportunity to be featured in one of their favorite print publications while collecting quotes and content to plug into upcoming pieces. The possibility of being featured in one of their favorite print publications entices fans to contribute online. Playboy Magazine’s #FriskyFriday takes reader contribution a step further, allowing female followers to submit nude or provocative images of themselves. Many other magazines encourage photo submissions via contests or prompt fans to respond to Facebook polls. Beyond adding depth to upcoming issues and digital content, these publications have opened a regular dialogue and established a lasting relationship with their readers.

3. Offering Expertise in Real Time

Magazines are invaluable sources of niche content thanks to their qualified staff, influential connections and collective knowledge. Some editors are providing their readers with the ability to connect with experts in real time via social media platforms. Food & Wine Magazine, for example, hosts weekly Twitter and Facebook chats in which fans and followers can speak to selected editors or chefs about recipes and dining tips. Conde Nast’s Traveler Magazine similarly encourages its followers to ask editors travel questions using Tumblr’s Ask feature. Meanwhile, Lucky Magazine has created a Foursquare page with tips for shopping destinations that readers can access on-the-go from their smartphones. Spin Magazine created a musical scavenger hunt during last year’s SXSW festival, featuring band recommendations within the location-based application, for its most geeky followers. By positioning themselves as the information destinations — with more than static articles — these magazines have become a part of their readers’ daily routines.

4. Catalyzing Connections

Knowing that friendships often evolve from similar interests, some magazines have taken to helping their community members meet and interact amongst themselves. Facebook and on-site communities are being optimized for conversation. Cosmopolitan Magazine, for example, promotes community member questions on their site via Facebook. This generates very personal comments and responses to and from Cosmo readers as members relate to each others’ experiences and offer advice. Offline, Meetup.com offers the easiest and most relevant platform for forming connections around similar interests. Philosophy Now has built its own Meetup Everywhere page, encouraging readers to congregate across the U.S. and U.K. to discuss their favorite magazine-related topics. The tactics adopted by these marketing-savvy publications generate relationships and conversations around their brand — on and offline.

5. Leveraging Influence

While the average Twitter user has fewer than 350 followers, brands and well-known magazines spend time and money collecting large, relevant groups of thousands of followers. As a result, a tweet from a magazine such as Vogue has much larger amplification and will likely generate far more retweets and replies than that of an average user. With the goal of adding value to their followers, some magazines are using their niche influence status to help users obtain the responses they need by retweeting questions. Not only does this strengthen these magazines’ relationships with their readers, but it also positions them as the ultimate source for information — even when they merely act as conduits for that information.

6. Extending the Editorial Experience

With social media, magazines can add context and entertainment value to otherwise flat pieces of writing. Beyond text and images, stories may be enhanced with polls, videos, games, real-time chats, answers to tangential questions and a peek behind the scenes. Cosmopolitan already has used Facebook games to entertain bored fans at work. Time allows its Facebook community members to create faux “Person of the Year” images to share with their friends. Magazines have also begun to make use of the newest social media sweetheart, Instagram. National Geographic shares beautiful photos with the smartphone application, while Playboy uses it to share backstage moments.

7. Monetizing Social Media

Banner ads may still be the most common form of digital monetization for online magazines, but creative uses of social media profiles have increased opportunities for partners and advertisers. Sponsored Twitter backgrounds and tweets, as well as sponsored Facebook messages and landing tabs are a few ways in which magazines are taking advantage of their large social media audiences for direct revenue. Have you seen interesting uses of social media by print magazines? Will this newfound openness to digital media suffice to save traditional print-based media? Let us know in the comments below.
More Social Media Resources from Mashable:

How Social Media Will Make the Smart Energy Grid More Efficient
How WWE Conquered the Social Media Arena
Americans & TV: How Social Media Users Watch Video [INFOGRAPHIC]
7 Years of Facebook: A Retrospective
HOW TO: Ask and Answer Questions on Quora [VIDEO]
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About MARKIT Group

MARKIT Group is a full-service traditional and digital marketing and public relations firm with an emphasis on social media, reputation management and monitoring, as well as brand management. Headquartered in Bonita Springs, Fla., with offices in New York, Pittsburgh and Charleston, S.C. www.markit-group.com.
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One Response to Putting Social Media to Work for your Print Business

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