Publishers’ Content: The Fuel for the Social Web

By Matthew Yorke, President IDG Global Solutions

©IDG Communications, Inc. Photo contributed by Matthew Mikaelian.

This article also appeared in Min Online.

Social platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter have dominated the headlines for the past year with dramatic user figures. They’ve helped create new ways to produce and share multimedia content from breaking news to professional information and advice to family pictures. Instead of worrying about the social media threat, publishers have reasons to be thankful.

Am I crazy? No, and here’s why.

The Internet and online media have inflicted considerable pain on traditional print and broadcast media over the past decade. And, it’s reasonable to be wary of another digital denizen: the social Web. But only if you think the social platforms should own the relationships with people and the revenue that comes with visitors.

We can all agree that social media is about sharing information and links to topics that people care about professionally and personally. They congregate around those passions on the social Web, not unlike a water cooler. For the past 10 years, publishers have been grappling with the power of search and how to stand out in a world driven by it. In a social world, publishers can make direct connections with passionate readers beyond a magazine or Web site.

There is a huge opportunity in understanding in real time what the audience is saying about a certain topic and joining in that conversation.

There is a huge opportunity in understanding in real time what the audience is saying about a certain topic and joining in that conversation. For example, a magazine is following influential social commentators on a topic and can see how readers are responding and commenting about it. The magazine joins the conversation by posting a comment or tweet with a link, and when one of the influential commentators retweets it or comments, the one-to-one interaction quickly expands to include the commentator’s social network or graph.

It can be quite a ripple effect. This monitoring, commenting, and responding activity can help with editorial coverage, too. We already see social traffic becoming a significant source of visitors to IDG media sites just like search attracts visitors to media sites as people look for information.

Join the Social Web and Help Marketers Do It, too

It’s too late to try and create a magazine social community, but a publisher with a brand, valued content, and audience can take advantage of the popular social platforms rather than compete with them. It’s a battle of scale and technical functionality that most media companies cannot win. So inject your brand into the existing social Web where you can engage in a dialogue with people, some of whom may not have known you before. Search enables discovery while social stimulates ongoing interaction and ultimately relationships.

At IDG, we create new social advertising formats where ads allow readers to share elements of the ad or the entire unit with their social graph. Content is the jet fuel for social media. Who is better at producing valued content than a media company? Optimize the content for the social web and place it in areas where people are interested in that topic. The same process for sharing magazine articles—analyzing conversations, identifying influential commentators, and joining a discussion with appropriate content—can be applied for marketers who seek social identities.

Social Service

The services required for the social Web open the door for publishers to develop new and deeper relationships with advertisers. Publishers understand quality content and the topics that foster engagement in their categories, such as technology for IDG. Social media is not about CPMs and spreadsheet media plans; it’s centered around a deep understanding of topics of interest and what’s driving conversations—capabilities that are baked into the DNA of media companies. In addition, the tools needed to develop and implement successful social marketing programs are readily available to publishers, enabling them to become strategic advisors to their marketing clients.

Matthew Yorke is president, IDG Global Solutions and is responsible for a sales organization that serves IDG’s largest technology vendor customers worldwide. He continues to serve as president, IDG Strategic Marketing Services, an organization that provides social media marketing services and multimedia programs for clients such as Microsoft, IBM, Dell, Avaya, Citrix and Cisco.

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