Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Social media and the management of it, is the topic of a lot of our conversations these days. Whether your goal is to sell more copies at the newsstand or to gain new subscribers, building a strong brand for your magazine is still the key. Your ability to gain new readers, and engage with your current, devoted readership, comes from your brand’s authority - and one of the best ways to build that is through the savvy use of social media.

You may be thinking that social media is the last thing on your to-do list and we hear from publishers regularly that they don’t have the time or manpower to dedicate to it. But it doesn’t have to be a crazy, arduous task. With some strategy and planning, creating your social content can easily be incorporated into your magazine timeline, resulting in that sought-after brand authority.

As magazine publishers, you are actually in an ideal position for populating social channels as you are already engaged in a dialogue with your audience. Social media is a natural extension of that conversation. Think of it like a dinner party with your audience; you wouldn’t read them a whole article from your magazine over dinner but you might casually bring up a great piece and give them a highlight or two.

Getting your magazine out there in the social universe doesn’t have to be a reinvention of your content - you already have the copy and images to work with. We suggest to our clients, that for efficiency and to maintain intent, it is optimal to create the content for your social channels while you are creating the magazine. Here are some strategies we follow when planning for a magazine’s social:

1. Choose your channels wisely.
You already know who your audience is so you can easily figure out what social channels they’re on and you can choose to be there too. Check out Futurpreneur.ca (http://www.futurpreneur.ca/en/2016/a-breakdown-of-social-media-platforms-and-their-uses/) for a great breakdown of who is hanging out where. We suggest that you only commit to the channels that you can maintain on a regular basis and if you find that you can’t keep up with one, delete it rather than letting it get stale.

2. Use a Strategy Roadmap.
(We have a template that is available upon request to hello@k9-sd.com) A roadmap will allow you to clearly define goals, objectives and initiatives. Having a plan for each channel is helpful - at K9, for example, we use Facebook for our fun, team-based posts and Twitter and LinkedIn we keep more business focused.


3. Define your voice for each social media channel.

Remember that this is the more casual dinner party chat so we recommend that you keep it short, simple and channel specific - what works for Facebook may not work for SnapChat for example. Give some thought to being consistent with both content and image treatment.

4. Create shareable content.
By creating useful and shareable content, you widen your reach as your followers repost, retweet, and ‘like’ your posts. This is incredibly valuable for your brand authority and recognition. Have a look at this example from Forbes Magazine - they’ve taken an article from their publication and created smaller, bite-sized pieces with related images. These are more appropriate in length for social and they are also shareable by their audience.


5. Be SEO ready.
For Search Engine Optimization, when you post an image to a social channel, you have an opportunity to create a title and description. We advise using words that relate to the topics that your audience is searching for. This is a great way to drive readers back to your social channels, website and ultimately convert them into magazine buyers. Look for our post on this blog next month for a more in-depth look at SEO and your magazine brand.

When in doubt of whether or not a post is appropriate for a social channel, ask yourself if it’s inline with your magazine brand. We have created a handy checklist for ourselves that we use in-house for our social content with questions like, ‘Is this information useful for my audience?’ and ‘Is this something my audience would share with their friends?’. With your brand voice front of mind, and some dedicated time to your strategy, you will be able to post consistently and grow your audience.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Hello magazine media! In this, our first piece for Masthead, we have decided to start with a post for the B2B world. In our experience, B2B titles have settled for being the brainy, dress for comfort ones, living in the shadow of their glamorous, always-fashionable B2C cousins. This dynamic has persisted for years, as B2B publishers themselves have viewed design and branding as a ‘nice to have’, believing that the content (the story) was more important than how it was presented. That may have been true in the past, but today's audiences expect more, with presentation being almost equal in importance to the content.

Welcome to the design and brand savvy world, where we all need to be thinking in terms of how to build our brands. In this post, we explore a few ways that B2B publishers can leverage the hard work they’ve already done to help get them out of their B2C cousin’s shadow and rocking their brand-power in their own right.

Because we live in a multi-channel world, magazines aren’t just well loved printed products; they’re brands. B2C publishers invest big bucks in a myriad of research tools in an effort to understand their audience’s hearts and minds, and to develop a magazine – a brand – that resonates across all platforms.

Many B2B publishers consider the notion of ‘magazine as brand’ to be the exclusive territory of the consumer magazines. They can’t justify the cost of doing research and testing, when the truth is they may not have to as they’ve done most of the branding work already.

B2B publishers target a more focused audience and as a result are much more embedded in the communities they serve. They already have an instinctive understanding of who their audience is and what they expect from the brand. They’ve developed their editorial tone and voice, and defined their editorial/content guidelines. They just need to take that last step and define the visual language that aligns with the editorial to create, and fully communicate, the ‘brand’.

Here are the three considerations we explore at K9 strategy+design when we work to help a client create a magazine brand:

1. Own It  - What can you claim that no one else can?

Stop looking over your shoulder trying to fit in. Instead, keep your head down and do the work you are so good at. That will differentiate you more than comparing yourself to your competitors. Most magazines have a general positioning statement but not all are working to support the brand or its place in the market. A winning positioning statement is short, to the point, and can be articulated and understood by anyone – the old school 30-second elevator pitch. A/J, one of our favourite projects, took a position and claimed it: Canada’s Environmental Voice. The phrase became the brand’s mantra - the team gave it prime real estate on every cover and used it as a compass to help guide all their decisions. 

Canada’s Environmental Voice   
Redesigned A\J cover featuring their new tagline  


2. Think Big
What is the big idea?

Magazines are no longer just printed products. Today’s audiences consume your content in a host of ways so you need to develop your brand voice for each channel and recreate, not repurpose, content in ways that reflect each channel’s delivery strength. In other words, no mindless copy-and-pasting! Readers can tell when content is inauthentic to the channel. Plan and produce content for all channels at the same time. Decide how you’re going to tell your story on your digital properties, social media channels etc. when you’re deciding on pull quotes and images.

K9 strategy+design content planner
(click here to request your planner)  


3.Visual Language
What does your voice look like?

So much effort goes into trying to figure out what it sounds like but you must also consider what it looks like. Develop a visual language that supports your editorial mandate and resonates with your audience. Media consumers want more than just the facts; they want to connect on a deeper emotional level. Take a page from your B2C cousins - today’s audiences are savvy consumers of media and they expect a smart, good-looking and highly visual presentation that speaks in a clear voice and connects with their values and view of the world. 

The 2016 Canadian Business Media Association Awards finalists for Best Media Brand. All feature elements that are commonly found on B2C covers.    


These 3 considerations are not exclusive to building a brand but they are certainly a good start and probably enough work to keep you going for a while. For a more detailed look at magazine branding, specifically B2B design trends, join us on February 22, 2017 at 2 PM (EST) for a Magazines Canada webinar, where we will go deeper into current design trends and tips for refreshing your B2B title. 

About Me
Norm Lourenco RGD

Norm is Creative Director and founder of K9 strategy+design and has 25 years of experience directing, strategizing and designing for publishing clients such as Rogers, Ski Canada Magazine, Alternatives Journal, Homes & Cottages Magazine and Metro News. Over the years, Norm has also assisted TELUS, Bell, Sirius, BMO Nesbitt Burns, American Express and countless entrepreneurial, professional and non-profit clients with their branding and communications opportunities. 
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