In the fast-changing world of media, traditional publications have to compete with social platforms for attention minutes. While new media publishers like BuzzFeed and Upworthy seem to have mastered the social-publishing formula, print pubs are finding themselves in unfamiliar territory.
InStyle, one of Time Inc.’s flagship brands, boasts a social following (8 million across platforms) that is over four times its print circulation. The magazine managed to grow its Facebook page 600 percent year-over-year, in part thanks to a partnership with the social network to leverage its data.
The publication’s next social foray is Snapchat. The glossy is revealing its September cover on the ephemeral messaging platform Thursday: “The biggest secret we keep all year is who’s on the cover of September,” Angela Matusik, executive editor of digital at InStyle, told SocialTimes. “[Snapchat] felt like the right place to share the biggest secret of the year.”
September is typically the biggest month for fashion magazines in terms of ad pages – InStyle‘s Sept. 2013 issue was the biggest issue in its history at the time. (This year’s takes the new crown.) The pub celebrated it with an Instagram video featuring the Internet’s favorite thing: kittens.
While a print publication on Snapchat may seem like a strange fit, the magazine is not trying to reach the typical InStyle reader: “[Snapchat] allows us to reach people who might not necessarily be core readers of InStyle, who might not even be magazine readers. It allows us to get a different demographic excited about the brand,” said Matusik. The pub launched its Snapchat presence this summer, and has seen steady growth with an 80 percent engagement rate.
Will snapchatting get that younger demographic to subscribe to the print pub? Probably not. However, “with creativity and not a lot of resources, you can experiment and find ways of… getting the message of your brand out there,” explained Matusik. Plus, there’s the benefit of social referrals, even if digital ad dollars aren’t keeping up with their print counterparts. Instyle.com saw traffic referrals from Facebook more than double in the first half of this year.
The magazine has been focusing on aligning itself with social for some time — convincing celebrities like Drew Barrymore and Kate Hudson to join social networks to coincide with its covers. The pub’s 2nd Annual Social Media Awards is going on right now following a successful first run.
So traditional publishers would do well to heed Matusik’s advice — focus on a long-term social strategy: “You can’t do it once and let it go. It’s like starting a garden; you have to water it.”