Facebook Marketing and Engagement for Magazines
By Kate Lesniak, Publisher, Bitch Media
Every other week, another think-piece comes out declaring that Facebook still isn’t generating direct revenue for publishers. Guess what? That trend is never going to change, and publishers shouldn’t expect it to. Facebook—and all social media, for that matter—isn’t here to boost your brand or fund media, it’s here to repackage the content you paid for into a sticky-as-hell internet magnet. So what to do? Stop counting on Facebook to care. And start building a revenue model that engages readers somewhere else when it really counts.
Part I: Defining Engagement & Measures of Success
In today’s publishing industry, the term “engagement” means something new every day. In this case, it’s important for your team—both editorial and revenue sides—to be on the same page about its definition. In its broadest application, engagement means the strategic use of social media and other digital and traditional platforms to bring readers closer into your organization, with the goal of eventually converting that reader to a paying member or subscriber. Before setting out to create a plan for engagement and marketing, first sit down with your team to define what it means at your organization.
Once you’ve come to a common, operational definition for engagement at your organization, it’s time to define what successful engagement looks like. Why are you using Facebook? What do you hope to get out of the platform? How will what you do on Facebook add value directly to your organization financially? Start with these questions. Specifically, after answering these questions, it’s important to arrive at agreement between editorial and revenue teams on the one action that is most valuable to your organization, or a “Core Action.” The Core Action is the most important thing a reader can do after engaging with your content for the first time on Facebook. As a print publisher, your Core Action should focus on moving readers closer to your publication, away from Facebook, and onto a platform where you determine how often and with what message you’re able to reach a reader. Common Core Actions include signing up for an email list or downloading an app. Both share one thing in common: They do not emphasize Facebook’s newsfeed as a reliable conduit for your marketing strategy.
Part II: Building a Facebook Engagement Strategy that Converts
For many in the past, the Core Action for Facebook has been divorced from the core action for the organization. For example, marketing teams would focus on acquiring “Likes” on Facebook with the intention of leveraging content exposure in the newsfeed into paid subscribers. The theory was that more “Likes” would mean more readers, which would then somehow, magically, turn into subscribers. Thanks to an enigmatic, ever-changing algorithm that has nearly edged out publishers completely, that strategy doesn’t work anymore (and it really never did).
In fact, your best marketing and engagement strategy for Facebook will focus on Facebook as a traffic driver for readers into your Core Action, rather than relying on Facebook to convert casual readers into paying readers. That’s why it’s so important for the content creators (editorial) and revenue generators (sales, development, etc.) to be on the same page about the ultimate reason behind your outlet’s presence on Facebook.
First, be sure that editorial sets a plan for content sharing on Facebook that’s both routine and allows space to capitalize on evergreen content (formerly published articles that are relevant to a spiking issue) when issues come to the forefront. If your magazine offers digital-sneak peeks or full articles online, share those on a routine basis, and make sure that once readers click through to read the story, they’re funneled into an opportunity to complete your Core Action before they leave your site. Develop an editorial content sharing strategy for Facebook that sets expectations for readers, and, importantly as a print publication, brings your content and those who are responsible for developing it off of the printed page.
After you’ve determined your sharing routines, how they drive into your Core Action and how your team is configured to make sure you’re getting the most of both points of contact, then, on a secondary level, it’s time to consider how Facebook as an isolated platform can also be useful. As a social tool that allows readers to come face to face with editors, writers, designers and those who are responsible for your publication, Facebook excels. Scheduling interviews or behind-the-scenes conversations via Facebook Live, as long as you offer an up-front routine, can be a great way to bring your readers closer to your publication. Pro tip: Make sure your programming for Facebook Live includes questions for viewers who might be watching—and if those on-screen can engage with the comments section while they’re live, even better. Of course, if you want to close the loop and be able to communicate with viewers after the live broadcast ends (core action!), make sure you have a specific call to action for viewers—a discount code for a subscription, a list where they can sign up to win a free issue, a place to send in questions for editors—so that you’re able to control the next time you can reach those viewers.
Part III: Other Tips
Although Facebook as a direct revenue conversion platform has its limits, there are some free tools that you can use to maximize your reach as well as your acquisition costs.
- For starters, try applying ActionSprout to your account, a free platform that allows you to track both your most engaging posts on Facebook, as well as accounts (publishers) who distribute similar content. By tracking the success of your posts as well as posts from similar accounts, you’ll be able to make informed choices about what to boost as well as what you share in your own stream from others that’ll increase your Likes and, ostensibly, your visibility in the newsfeed moving forward. You’ll also be able to invite editors (or whoever is responsible for the success of your social programs) as individual users, so that each person has a sense of what’s successful on Facebook, and what’s not.
- You may be surprised by who is following you on Facebook, and how much potential reach your outlet would have if your marketing team were able to successfully engage any celebrities, politicians, or similarly prominent individuals who might be following you. To find out who those folks are, use the free tool Social Rank and get to work cultivating relationships with those users. Validation and shares from high-worth social accounts offers enormous potential to increase your reach.
- If you’re looking to make the most of your spending budget for Facebook, make sure you install Facebook Pixel on your website so that you’re able to identify and remarket the most likely readers to convert for your publication. Pixel allows you follow on Facebook with highly targeted ads and if you’re looking to control your cost-per-acquisition, Pixel will maximize your spend.
Kate Lesniak is the publisher at Bitch Media, the feminist response to pop culture. Each day, Kate’s work focuses on one central question: How does an independent, community-supported feminist media outlet thrive in an environment that caters to corporate media and is constantly evolving through new engagement models and platforms? An organizer, fundraiser and innovator by trade, a friendly competitor by nature, and a person who is 100 percent committed to outsmarting the patriarchy, Kate approaches new challenges with energy for creative solutions and respect for the historical changemakers who paved the way for all of us. In 2017, Kate was named one of Media Shift’s Top 20 Digital Media Innovators.
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