Most industries, including publishing, are endlessly exposed to messages about the social media imperative. Social media experts lead businesses to believe that without Snapchat, Facebook, and Twitter accounts, they will float into the nether world and become invisible to customers. Following blindly, most publishers set up teams of employees to manage their various social media accounts.
After a frenzied attempt to publish on every platform, some publishers took a step back and reviewed their strategies. They recognized that it wasn’t worth their time, money, and energy needed to splash their company name all over the social media sphere. Trying to be everywhere at once has the effect of watering down each individual effort.
Slate Steps Back
One notable example of a publisher pinpointing its advertising needs is Slate, the online magazine. Slate realized that the costs of maintaining a Snapchat account were high, requiring a team of people working on creating unique content. Instead, Snapchat’s management invested in something it was already doing well—podcasting—to spread word about the magazine. It even developed a podcasting arm to work in conjunction with other publishers to produce podcasts.
Slate also worked in the opposite direction, strategizing to figure out what its advertisers were seeking and how the magazine could help out. Instead of just selling ad space, it offered editorial sponsorships and original custom content.
Digital Publishers Slipping
Carefully choosing a social media strategy makes sense, especially given the statistics coming in about 2015. Digital publishers mostly slipped, after years of incredible audience-growth figures. Numbers of individual visitors to a page seem to have hit a wall.
For example, BuzzFeed’s growth was flat in 2015. Business Insider’s traffic grew by 10 percent during 2015, but that number was negligible compared to 2014, when its traffic had increased by 80 percent.
As a result of the dive in visitor growth to their websites, digital publishers have seen their investors recede and their ad sales decline. The abundance of publishers on the web only complicates matters. Ad buyers, seeking cut-rate deals, want to work with sites who have entered into partnerships with other sites. Websites that stand alone have more trouble attracting ads.
Of course, some digital publishers insist that page views and other metrics don’t matter. Citing quality over quantity, they say that targeting the right audience is more important than garnering numerous page views. The existing metrics say nothing about whether the ultimate efficient audience has viewed a website, Facebook post, or Tweet. That’s why choosing the social media platform where your audience is likely to hang out is crucial.