The scramble to claim ownership of social media for brands has, so far, focused on the race between above the line, direct marketing and digital agencies, as well as consultants or specialist internal resource. An important player has been left out of the limelight, until now.
Social media is fundamentally about relevant content that ignites conversations and builds communities. Customer publishing agencies are proven and trusted experts in delivering engaging branded content that converses with customers on their level. And with 79% of the UK population reading customer magazines, it’s obviously content that resonates.
Although their heartland lies in traditional print magazine, supplement, catalogue, brochure and commercial offerings, progressive publishers have already adapted and incorporated their content successfully into the digital arena. Customer publishers now provide engaging and innovative multi-channel solutions from websites, microsites and interactive online magazines, to e-newsletters, emails and even mobile.
Social media is simply an extension of these offerings. And it’s actually most effective when used to complement and support them as part of a coordinated marketing effort, rather than in isolation. Integrating offline and online content with social media channels increases awareness and promotes contagious and influential peer-to-peer content sharing. The result is deeper, longer-term personal connections, which in turn increase propensity to purchase.
The channel does need careful managing. But this management doesn’t have to be via a newly created, dedicated role. The capability already exists in the form of editorial teams – brand guardians equipped with the right skills to converse with customers in the brand’s tone of voice.
Plus, because magazines have a personality and are not hard-sell vehicles, customers regard them as friends whose advice and opinions they trust. Which means they’re more comfortable conversing on a social media channel that is linked with a magazine. This feedback mechanism helps establish the effectiveness of the branded content, identify trends and shape future development.
If brands are seeking to maximise the relevance and depth of engagement of social media they should seriously consider partnering with publishers, drawing on their content expertise and proven ability to start and change conversations. After all, they’ve been doing it for well over 20 years.