Do Magazines Have Control Issues on Social Media?

[responsive]socialmedia1[/responsive]Social media is a brave new world for the publishing industry. And brands are having a hard time letting go of their preconceived notions and leverage the power of social, according to publishing consultant Rebecca Sterner.

“Magazine publishers are working hard to figure out exactly how to harness the branding and marketing power of social media platforms,” Sterner writes. “It is unlike anything else they have ever done to build their brand. In order to benefit the most from these social media platforms, magazine publishers must relinquish some control of the relationship with social site participants.”

Sterner advises the way around this is to start with a strategic plan, including setting some specific goals. And those goals should go beyond the typical digital marketing KPIs like “clicks” and “likes.”

She suggests goals like:

  • To get feedback from customers about the topics the magazine covers or about the magazine itself.
  • To lead conversations, or present a viewpoint to a special interest.
  • To find like-minded enthusiasts.  Some special interest magazines find it hard to reach them through other traditional media because there are very limited mailing lists.

And Sterner offers a salient reminder on what social media is good for, and what it’s not.

“Social media are best thought of as marketing tools, not vehicles for sales. While each social media platform has unique ways to put forward sales and offers, don’t count on product / subscription sales / conference registrations sold through social media to be their primary use,” Sterner advises.

“You should think of social media as the way you engage with the public. For example, you can include a subscription order form as part of your Facebook site (but don’t expect a lot of orders to come pouring in!), but it can be more successful as a way to engage your audience–and be a powerful way for your existing customers to recommend you to their networks. You can certainly offer special deals, but don’t make that the focus of your magazine’s social media plan.”

It’s good advice, and a refreshing approach to real engagement instead of the obsession with clicks.