Publisher's Paradox: The Social Subscriber
The Paradox: While publishers are desperate to be more "social" they ignore their biggest "social" asset: their journalists.
Put the Social back in Social Media
In the social media world, everyone has an audience. Your journalists, your editors, your sales staff, your CEO, all have the ability to attract fans, followers and friends. In the social media world, fans, followers, and friends are all versions of a subscription. Your "subscribers" have opted-in to your status updates, shared links, photo posts, and video shares. Yet very few publishers work to reward, encourage, and even monetize the relationships a journalist builds with the audience they've attracted.
Here's Wikipedia's definition of an interpersonal relationship: "a strong, deep, or close association/acquaintance between two or more people that may range in duration from brief to enduring." Notice the definition states that the relationship is between two or more people -- not brands, logos, magazines, or mastheads.
If you want to be more successful in the social media world, stop trying to attract fans, followers, and friends to your branded social pages. Instead, invest in the most under-utilized assets in your publishing arsenal: your journalists.
Jenna Wortham & The New York Times
In 2010, I read an article by Jenna Wortham, a technology reporter for The New York Times. Jenna's article was insightful, smart, and much more interesting than most of the technology reporting from others in the space. Immediately, I found Jenna on Twitter and started following her.
Today, I'm one of her 500K social connections. I interact with her on Twitter about once a week and feel like I know Jenna Wortham. I also follow Jenna on Instagram (she's an avid user.) I'm connected with her on LinkedIn. I'm a Jenna Wortham fan. I am NOT a New York Times fan.
Here's the rub: I'd love a relationship with only the content Jenna creates for The New York Times. I don't want to subscribe to the whole newspaper, I don't want the entire technology section, I just want to read everything Jenna writes. Jenna cuts through information overload and delivers great technology insight on every platform she engages in. Unfortunately, the New York Times makes it damn-near impossible to subscribe to JUST Jenna Wortham.
I have a "social media" relationship with Jenna Wortham. It's an enduring online relationship that The New York Times has done nothing to exploit. Are you doing the same thing to your journalists' most rabid fans, followers, and friends?
The Publisher's Challenge
In this week's staff meeting, I want you to challenge your team to brainstorm ways in which your social media relationships can turn into meaningful opt-in content subscriptions that drive revenue. What if you could empower your audience to subscribe to just one journalist, once a week? Ask yourself, what are you doing to encourage meaningful social relationships between your audience and the journalists you employ?