Social Media Spotlight: Do Feed the Bloggers
Social Media Sites Used: Interior Design Blogs
Campaign For: Launch of a new online magazine, Lonny
Results: Without a penny of marketing funding, Lonny's first three issues attracted 350,000 unique visitors and displayed more than 13 million pages.
Most blogs boil down to, "I just saw this, and here's what I think of it," followed by several—or several "pages" of—dedicated commenters debating those thoughts. They require a constant stream of new topics to blog about to feed that ongoing discussion.
For interior design bloggers, as for many niche blog communities, much of that information came from magazines. But when interior design and shelter magazines began dying off, the community was starved for material.
That famine created a great social marketing opportunity for the emerging online design magazine Lonny. Founded by Michelle Adams and Patrick Cline—who had been laid off when the cult-hit design magazine Domino collapsed—Lonny has been embraced by blogs desperately in need of new stars on which to hitch themselves.
"Bloggers could no longer … discuss a plethora of new imagery every month from their favorite American design magazines, because most of them had folded," says Lonny Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief Adams. "We made an effort to provide an insane amount of original content."
Lonny offered exclusive preview images to several blogs and engaged bloggers in other ways. The resulting support has been the magazine's biggest traffic driver.
"… I'm psyched to congratulate Michelle and Pat [who's also Director of Photography] on their new online magazine," wrote Design*Sponge Editor Grace Bonney, whose home was featured in Lonny's first issue. "It's been fun to watch their project come together over the past few months. …"
Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop blog also took notice: "For all those mourning the loss of so many shelter publications including Domino, House & Garden and Blueprint, there's Lonny, an online magazine founded by Domino alumni Michelle Adams and photographer Patrick Cline."
"Design*Sponge, Goop, Apartment Therapy, Style Court, Absolutely Beautiful Things, Oh Joy, Shelter Pop, Casa Sugar, etc.," said Adams, were among the blogs who picked up on Lonny. "We were incredibly lucky to get as much coverage as we did."
But it was more than luck; Lonny was able to resonate with a vocal group of influencers who had impressive reach into its target market. (Design*Sponge has 50,000 daily visitors and nearly as many RSS subscribers.) Their endorsements gave the new magazine instant legitimacy. ... Remember when it used to work the other way around?
Tips to Use
Lonny has a few things going for it when it tries to connect with the blogging community. First, Domino had a good reputation among the community. Second, the team behind the magazine is building it on pure passion for the material, which is exactly what drives the blogging community.
"Some of the buzz was created by the fact that Patrick and I took a huge risk to launch Lonny on our own without any funding or a publisher to back us," explains Adams. They "were (and still are) driven by the belief that we are not the only people out there who sorely miss the magazines that have folded."
Lonny staff also reached out to bloggers personally to keep them engaged. They created a Twitter account and blog, attended networking events and hosted a launch party.
Perhaps most importantly, they were polite. "We made an effort to … thank the bloggers who were kind enough to support us …," says Adams.
A complaint you hear from bloggers working with traditional PR outlets is that they are treated as less significant press outlets, when bloggers are, in fact, usually very vocal enthusiasts.
"Enthusiast press" used to be an insult. Now it drives Web 2.0, and Lonny is a perfect example of how to start that engine.