Social Media Strategy – 4 lessons business users can learn from Publishers

Social Media Strategy - Content MattersAs someone who enjoys cycling (when the weather is good and the roads are flat) I was reviewing the updated website of Cycling UK, the cyclists champion, the other day. It made me realise how many parallels there are between Social Media Strategy and traditional publishing.

If, like me, you are using Social Media for professional and business reasons, here are 4 lessons from publishers of magazines and newspapers that could improve our approach and results.

Social Media Strategy Lessons from Publishers

When it comes to Social media best practice there are many sources to learn from. Many publishers have made good headway to develop an effective social media strategy so it’s worthwhile having a look to see what lessons we can learn from them.

  1. Content mix – magazines and newspapers have a rich mix of content such as editorial, features, research, product reviews, readers letters, events diary, how to, and more. However they rarely lose sight of the central topic, interest or niche that the audience expects them to cover. How rich and varied is the content and content marketing that you include in your personal or company social media stream? And how focused on a specific topic is it?
  2. Circulation – critical to commercial publishing are their readership numbers. There is a real focus on creating and growing a loyal readership of subscribers. We need to invest time to grow our social media followers and actively engage with them to grow our online community.
  3. Advertisers – this income makes a publication viable, and is often the reason why the publication actually exists in the first place. Although we may not be using Social Media to carry advertising we do need to see a commercial return on our efforts to justify the commitment. Are we using Social Media effectively to generate referrals, to entice people through to our marketing and online lead generation areas, or to achieve other commercial objectives?
  4. Publishing schedule – magazines, newspapers and news websites have a monthly, weekly, daily, or ‘real-time’ schedule that they commit to and maintain. While this is core to their business, and it may not be to ours, it is a method of working that can underpin solid results as part of an online lead generation strategy. It’s worth reviewing our Social Media schedule to check that we are doing our best to be visible when our audience is active.

The Multiple Audience challenge in Social Media

One particular insight was the way the Cycling UK website is that it clearly covers the different types of cycling; road, off-road, touring and so on. They are trying to include and cater for all sub-groups through the one website, and they achieve this pretty well.

Most businesses also have different groups of people in their commercial community. People with these different interests need to feel included in the communications they receive. In the self-service social media world it’s more difficult to separate them, so the content needs to work harder.

And in doing so, the content can help to direct people to information and messages that interest them. So, from the content mix above, the research, product reviews, events diary and ‘how to’ sections could all be very useful indications not just of interest but potential buying intentions.

From a main publication publishers might then start a sub-title when there is sufficient interest to justify it. Likewise, a company might start a different Twitter account, Social Media Page, or even website domain. However, for smaller companies this is probably the exception, so the strategy needs to make the core online properties as inclusive as possible.

Is your Social Media Strategy aligned with your business goals?

Social Media Marketing has so much potential but it is also moving forward at such a pace. Many companies find it beneficial to have external guidance to streamline efforts and maximise returns. Wurlwind offers a Social Media Review and Action Plan specifically to help small and mid-sized businesses to align Social Media with their other marketing and lead generation activities, and their business goals and resources.

Thinking like a publisher may just be the mindset shift that turns social media from a distraction to a serious business tool for you. You don’t have to be like Rupert Murdoch in order to make a commercial gain from publishing.

Do let me know if you think the lessons above will help your social media strategy.

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