Last week I was at a magazine publishers talking about social media platforms, when it was put to me that the platform I was talking about was “mainly used by Valley types”, and why should journalists invest time in a platform when the majority of readers of more conservative titles don’t use it?
It’s a recurring question – so much so that I have decided to present my answer here. I’d welcome any additions.
You can put it where you want
The flexibility of RSS means that just because you are on Twitter/Facebook/Flickr/YouTube/blogs, doesn’t mean your reader has to be. Twitter may be mainly used by Valley types, but you can put it on your site in minutes with a widget, creating an easy way to keep your site (and your readers) frequently updated.
The BBC have done this successfully many times with sporting events. But you can also aggregate feeds together, as I did earlier this year with Environmental News Online, so you could see ‘What our reporters are doing right now’. Dynamic content and a stronger reader relationship for the effort of an occasional text message from a reporter.
Advertisers want your social media-using readers
Just because a minority of readers use social media doesn’t mean they’re not important. Recently Universal McCann released a report on the rise of “a new breed of super influencers” that has been created by social media tools.
These people tend to be influential over a range of around a dozen categories (e.g. food, drink, music, fashion). And they are “much more likely to be motivated by overt commercial messaging [and] celebrity endorsements”. Sounds like a great pitch to advertisers…
Oh, and another of those things they influence people on? What magazine to buy or website to visit.
They’re not “geeks” – they’re early adopters
Five years ago people who downloaded mp3s were seen as geeky. Now it’s a mainstream activity, and expected to make up the majority of record sales within a further five years.
Do I need to labour the point?
Distribution has always been about getting your content to where the reader is. Guess where they are now?
And if they’re not there already…
Teach them how to fish…
Finally, just because some people aren’t using social media now, doesn’t mean they won’t in the future. Publishers seem to have a mental block on the possibility of taking an active role in people’s use of social media – for no reason: this is a two-way medium now.
There’s no reason why you can’:
- create a Flickr group and show readers how to join Flickr in order to join in;
- set up a YouTube channel and invite them to post to it;
- encourage them to tweet from their mobile phone.
After all, aren’t you about bringing benefits to the readers?
Not only that, but if users learned how to social network/blog/twitter/upload images/video through you, they’re more likely to build some sort of relationship and user loyalty with what you’re doing.
If they learn from someone else, well, you’ve missed a golden opportunity.