Seventeen Magazine – it’s been a rite of passage for teens since launching 73 years ago. And while being a teen today is a far different experience than it used to be, the title has done a beautiful job of staying relevant to its core audience.
Lately, that means meeting readers where they are, using social media to introduce them to the title.
“We’ve been able to evolve our content from just a flat article to a social-first visual version of that story,” said Kristin Koch, site director for Seventeen.com, in an interview with Sami Main in Ad Week. “The instant conversations we’re able to have with our audience inform our content on all our platforms.”
Their strategic use of social media has helped them build an audience of 12 million, and a healthy circulation of 2 million for their bimonthly print title. Their outreach has evolved, as has their editorial approach. While fashion and celebrity news is still important to their demographic, there is a growing realization that teens care about much deeper issues as well.
“Being a teen today is much different than it used to be,” Koch explained. “We’re doing deeper dives into issues teens are facing like sexual assault on campuses or bullying online. At our heart, we’re a guide to being a teen and that continues to guide us.”
This has helped the magazine engage activist influencers, young people “who care about their world and want to participate in its future,” says Main. To that end, their digital strategy embraces the influencer culture of social media. Even with the importance of their digital presence, however, the publisher fully acknowledges the importance of print.
Their continued success “wouldn’t be possible without the legacy print publication, which turns 74 next year,” Main notes, explaining the magazine reaches nearly 5 million women ages 12 to 24 with its five issues each year, “not including its special prom issue in spring.”
According to Executive Editor Joey Bartolomeo, they use breaking news to help inspire longer form editorial with greater impact.
“We know Gen Z appreciates authenticity, and that’s what Seventeen is about,” said Bartolomeo. Recent stories included a feature on a girl who joined the Dakota Access Pipeline protest, and a transgendered teen who helped inform readers about the public bathroom debate.
The title has gracefully bridged the print-digital divide, by leveraging the benefits of each format, and their audience still has a solid love for the print format. “Print magazines, unlike apps, don’t drain their phone batteries,” Bartolomeo explains. “And as we all know, there’s a lot to be said for that.”