Strengthen Your Brand Through Social Networking: A Q&A With Nylon Magazine Digital Director Faran Krentcil
While social networking has been a hot topic in the industry for a few years now, many magazine publishers are still struggling to figure out how to use the online community-building tool to their advantage—or if they should devote the staff time and resources to it at all. For Nylon, a magazine rooted in youth and popular culture, the answers to those questions were easy. “I don’t think it was ever a question that we should have a MySpace page,” says Faran Krentcil, digital director. “It was just a really organic thing … . Everyone in the Nylon office had a MySpace page, so why wouldn’t the magazine itself have one?”
With a presence on MySpace since 2004, Nylon now has a community of over 125,000 “friends” on the popular social-networking site. It has also established itself on other social-networking sites. “We have a Facebook group called ‘Nylon Magazine: Totally Official’ where we also share news and photos from each issue,” says Krentcil. “And we have our own YouTube page … which showcases Nylon TV segments [from NylonMag.com].”
Krentcil spoke to Publishing Executive Inbox about how the use of social-networking sites has helped to strengthen the Nylon brand and build a stronger connection between the magazine and its readers.
INBOX: With so many opportunities online, how did you determine that the MySpace page was worth staff time and resources? What were you hoping to get out of the page?
Faran Krentcil: MySpace and Nylon are both rooted in youth culture and pop culture; every month those worlds collide in our magazine, and every second they’re changing and growing on MySpace. I don’t think it was ever a question that we should have a MySpace page; it was just a really organic thing …. Everyone in the Nylon office had a MySpace page, so why wouldn’t the magazine itself have one?
As far as what we wanted to get out of the page, that’s pretty simple too: Nylon has so many fans around the world, and because the magazine is so personal, a lot of people feel like it’s talking directly to them. MySpace was a great online outlet where that could actually happen—people could send instant feedback, and connect with the magazine office immediately. We wanted them to always be plugged into the brand, not just when a new issue comes out. NylonMag.com does that, YouTube does that, and MySpace does that, too.
INBOX: How did you decide which social-networking sites were best for your publication?
Krentcil: We look at which sites everyone in our office, and also our interns and friends, are using.
INBOX: Did you design the page in-house or hire a vendor to assist you?
Krentcil: In-house, by the same designer who did NylonMag.com
INBOX: How much staff time is spent maintaining the MySpace page? How often do you add new content?
Krentcil: Every morning, staffers sort through MySpace messages and comments. And throughout the day, we’ll log on to post bulletins of what’s happening on NylonMag.com or in the office. [For example,] when [actress] Mischa Barton came to our party in L.A., we posted a bulletin saying, “Nylon Magazine is... hanging with Marissa Cooper.” [Marissa Cooper is a character Mischa Barton played on television.] We send little blips like that about five times a day—and we get crazy comments. Once I was really tired, and I sent a blip that said, “Nylon Magazine needs a Diet Coke.” Within an hour, we had comments on our page with readers posting photos of Diet Coke cans. And if you scroll through our comments, you’ll see about 200 “birthday cards” that readers drew and scanned when our Anniversary Issue hit stands. So a lot of the new content is actually added by our readers.
INBOX: How do you publicize the page to readers?
Krentcil: Sometimes MySpace uses Nylon as its featured profile on the homepage, and when our [MySpace Music Issue] hits stands [every June], they add us into their homepage advertising rotation. But the page built up organically—we announced one day on NylonMag.com that we had a MySpace page, and suddenly we had thousands of friends.
INBOX: How do you feel the publication has benefited from the page? How has it strengthened your readership?
Krentcil: It’s kept people aware of Nylon every day, not just when a new story hits. And it makes Nylon more personal, because when someone sends a message, they’ll actually get a response.
INBOX: Do you have any other advice for publishers who would like to build a presence on a social-networking site?
Krentcil: Really look at who uses social-networking sites, and what they use it for: Is your reader someone who goes on MySpace for new music? Is your reader someone who goes on Facebook only to network in a business sense? Then you can tailor your brand’s online presence to engage the right people. Nothing’s sillier than seeing a brand “trying” to be younger, flashier or more connected than they actually are, and social-networking sites only help grow your brand if there’s an authentic connection between you and the readers. So plan it carefully.
Also, don’t let your page be static. If you decide a social-networking site is right for your publication, you need to update it every day to keep people engaged.