Social media for publishers: 5 forward-looking platforms and how best to use them

timo Lamour

One of the biggest changes in the media world is the rise of social media. All over the world, social media platforms have become important tools for informing users and distributing content. As a result, however, many consumers of all ages are moving away from traditional media - many are now increasingly getting their information from social networks.

One of the biggest changes in the media world is the rise of social media. All over the world, social media platforms have become important tools for informing users and distributing content. However, as a result, many consumers of all ages are also moving away from traditional media - many are now increasingly getting their information from social networks.

I believe that many publishers still need to learn how to properly use social media to better connect with their audiences.

Therefore, in this article, I would like to discuss five promising social media platforms and how your own media company can benefit from them.

1 Instagram

As one of the most popular social networks in the world, Instagram is no longer just an app for sharing photos.

Current figures

While almost everyone now knows what Instagram is and how it works, the growth and daily usage rate of Instagram is still impressive. This is especially true for traditional magazine publishers. According to a multi-year study by the Association of Magazine Media, Instagram has the highest growth rate among social networks. During the second quarter of 2019, the association found that media companies saw an average 6.3% increase in followers.

For example, publications such as The New Yorker (6% increase to 3.4 million), New York Magazine (also 6% increase to 1.5 million) and The Economist (13% increase to 3.5 million) have seen impressive follower growth. Also interesting: In comparison, the follower numbers of these magazines on platforms like Twitter and Facebook were negligible.

It doesn't matter if you take advantage of Instagram Stories or short video clips, the visual nature of Instagram offers compelling opportunities for all publishers.

Best Practices

One of the most well-known magazines that takes great advantage of Instagram is Vogue. The magazine has used Instagram Stories in particular to give its readers access to original content. And it's done so with great success, as Vogue generated an average of 6.4 million likes and comments per month in 2018.

You may be wondering: how does Vogue do it?

One of the most effective tactics is using multiple Instagram accounts to promote Vogue's entertaining Instagram Stories. The brand has a total of 11 different Instagram accounts and its audience lively and community-oriented Instagram Stories. And while these Stories aren't quite as detail-oriented as Vogue's print edition, they clearly reflect the fashion magazine's signature style and professionalism.

Some example stories include Vogue Plus One, Vogue First Look, and Vogue Backstage, all of which focus on entertaining the community as well as providing immediate value and.

The end result of Vogue's Instagram story experiment was overwhelming. Vogue tripled its traffic and achieved a 40% higher conversion rate by advertising in Instagram stories compared to alternative advertising channels. Stories even accounted for a significant portion of sales for the September issue. I think Vogue's success on Instagram shows that Instagram can generate significant ROI for your own business.

2 Snapchat

Although not as popular as other networks - Snapchat remains a great way to connect with your audience.

Current figures

Snapchat may not be causing as much of a stir as it did before it went public. Nevertheless, many publishers continue to use the platform as part of their digital marketing strategy. In fact, according to a Digiday study, 55% of the publishers surveyed benefit from Snapchat. Even more striking, 65% of respondents consider Snapchat a significant revenue generator for their company.

Ultimately, Snapchat is still a great channel for reaching young audiences. The company continues to release new features, such as Curated Our Stories, that help publishers in particular create and distribute engaging content to their audiences.

Incidentally, the stock price has also responded to Snapchat's success: the company's stock has nearly tripled since the beginning of 2019.

Best Practices

Two brands that are masterfully using Snapchat are CNN and The Economist.

Let's start with CNN. The American media organization has been quick to take advantage of Snapchat's new Curated Our Stories feature . For example, to cover the Notre Dame fire disaster. The new feature allowed CNN to access posts from private users when creating its own live Snapchat stories. Because the visual representation of the story was important, CNN was quick to respond and gather unique, personal impressions of the tragic fire. While the company did not release its exact viewership numbers for this story. However, it is estimated that between five and twenty million viewers tuned in.

"The use of Snapchat has led to the biggest change in The Economist's audience since 1843."

Tom Standage, Deputy Editor and Head of Digital Strategy at The Economist

And The Economist?

The magazine has been experimenting with Snapchat since 2016. Its Snapchat content covers everything from North Korean threats to the possibility of extraterrestrial life. The company attracts an average of 7.1 million unique visitors to its Snapchat channel and says it sees the platform as a great way to connect with its younger audience.

A typical Snapchat post from The Economist.

Finally, I would like to briefly emphasize that The Economist presents its high-quality reporting in an extremely appealing manner. And does not lecture young people from above.

3 YouTube

YouTube is a true social media heavyweight and thus offers excellent opportunities for your business.

Current figures

As the second most visited website in the world, YouTube is an excellent platform for publishers. Whether they want to reach a niche audience or a global one.

The numbers speak for themselves, too: YouTube is responsible for 37% of all mobile Internet traffic, boasts 1.9 billion logged-in monthly users, and reaches more 18- to 49-year-olds than any TV station. Publishers are also recognizing the opportunities YouTube offers. In fact, 30% believe the video-sharing platform offers the most meaningful revenue opportunities in the long term, ahead of Facebook and Google AMP, mind you.  

Best Practices

The Guardian is one of many newspapers that generates a lot of traffic through YouTube. For example, the paper has already reached one million YouTube subscribers and over one billion minutes of playback time.

How did the Guardian do this?

Mainly by joining YouTube's "Player for Publishers" program and focusing on creating impactful, in-depth videos. Many of these videos deal with the impact of current British politics. But there are also numerous documentaries, such as one on prostitution and human trafficking called The Trap.

The Trap already has more than 7 million views on YouTube.

Furthermore, the Guardian employs a team of eight specialists who focus exclusively on creating videos for YouTube as well as the Guardian's website. Interestingly, through the Player for Publishers program, the newspaper can use the YouTube player anywhere on its own website, which allows it to control ad sales and keep all the revenue.

4 Reddit

Reddit may be a somewhat surprising choice, however, the growing platform allows you to build extremely close personal connections with your audience.

Current figures

Did you know that Reddit is the fourth most visited website on the Internet? The Reddit community has 330 million monthly active users and is notorious for adhering to strict communication rules. The self-proclaimed "front page of the Internet" is a great way to connect with your users. However, it also comes with caution: because the community frowns on any excessive types of self-promotion.

Best Practices

The Washington Post uses Reddit in a highly compelling and effective way. Back in 2017, the Post created a public profile on the social network. Gene Park, a social media editor at the Post, explained that the newspaper uses Reddit profiles just as other private users do on the platform.

The project, launched as an experiment, was actually quite successful. Primarily because the newspaper has made consistent transparency and a willingness to authentically participate in ongoing discussions a top priority. Meanwhile, The Washington Post uses Reddit to engage in debates about politics, business and other social issues, while also providing insight into the Post's content and operations.

Reddit users continue to be particularly impressed by the paper's strong commitment to transparency. Park emphasized that a number of users have even become paying readers because of precisely this type of exchange.

5 TikTok

TikTok is a very new platform. However, this app can help you reach a new audience in a unique, fresh way.

Current figures

2019 was the year TikTok evolved from a fun social network to a platform that offers interesting revenue opportunities. In the same year, the app even reached the magic one billion downloads mark. Engagement within the app remains as high as ever; for example, users spend an average of around 52 minutes per day on the platform.

Like Snapchat, TikTok also attracts mainly young users - two-thirds of its users are younger than 30, for example. Although the Chinese app is coming under increasing scrutiny from U.S. law enforcement, it remains one of the most exciting social networks.

Best Practices

Because TikTok is still relatively new, many publishers have adopted a wait-and-see attitude for the time being. I think this is a clear sign that many publishers are still quite skeptical about the TikTok boom.

However, not all publishers are shying away.

Dazed created the #LassoChallenge on TikTok to promote one of its issues.

For example, culture magazine Dazed used TikTok as a channel for its #LassoChallenge campaign to promote one of its print editions. NBC, too, has used its Stay Tuned Show from Snapchat to TikTok, uploading more than 60 videos of the show so far. In addition, Buzzfeed, Hearst and Vice are also experimenting with TikTok.

"On social media, users are not observers but participants. We think first and foremost about how to get them to participate."

Ahmad Swaid, Head of Content at Dazed Media

While these publishers haven't yet committed huge resources to the platform, they have already launched small- and medium-sized experiments to see what their followers like. Vice, for example, is testing daily short videos based on popular Munchies recipes.


Although each of these social media platforms can help you achieve your business goals, the most important thing is still to know your target audience.

While journalism undoubtedly has the potential to become more personal and direct than ever before, it is imperative that media companies provide real value to their followers. Also, just because all platforms are available to you for free doesn't mean you have to use every single one.

In conclusion, social media can be a double-edged sword. Albeit a very useful sword. If you firstly, understand your audience, secondly, know the strengths and weaknesses of each platform and thirdly, focus on the most appropriate platforms for your audience, you can only win.

If you want to learn more about how to get the most out of social media channels: Find out how to set up an effective multichannel publishing workflow here.

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