April 22, 2014
/ by Emily Zimmerman
With consumer-focused publications getting comfortable incorporating and marketing content through social media, trade publications are learning to adapt to social media and appeal to a broader audience.
“I believe social media has forced trade pubs to step up their game to keep their readers’ attention and loyalty. Every day we’re faced with more competition for our readers’ time,” says National Safety Council’s Safety+Health magazine editor Melissa J. Ruminski.
With a changing audience desiring quick, concise information in a short amount of time, Ruminski believes trade pubs will have to continue “to adapt to an audience whose attention span will keep getting shorter,” she says.
“In the past, trade pubs that deliver technical information have, in general, had the luxury of publishing long, detailed articles in their print versions. Social media has developed readers’ tastes for short bursts of news and information delivered in real time, and if trade pubs don’t provide that, readers will go elsewhere.”
In addition to several other publications, Ruminski dedicates the majority of her time to Safety+Health, a publication that reaches 86,000 print subscribers. As editor of this publication, she oversees editorial and production, and even though she admits that she is a “bit behind on social media,” she takes every opportunity to catch up and continue learning. Currently, her organization is active on Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Facebook, and she has found most success with Twitter and LinkedIn. Facebook has proved to be a bit of a struggle, but she finds that this is due to the demographic of her current audience – males 50 and older.
This demographic still holds a strong loyalty to print and are not as tech-savvy, so she tries to pay extra attention to their print publication. However, they are also preparing for their audience retiring and a much younger audience with higher social media expectations coming in. Right now they are trying to find the right balance to appease both.
“How much time and how many resources do we put into building and growing a social media presence for an audience that, on the whole, isn’t quite there right now – but will be a few years down the road?” Ruminski chimes. Also, because her publication is connected with an association, the staff is small and the social media efforts must be made by the team itself.
In a recent post by Marketing Dive titled, 4 social media studies that matter to B2B, Wendy Parish writes that “81 percent of B2B marketers employ a social media content strategy. Despite more outlets using social media for distribution of content, the most popular still remain to be LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Google+.”
IDEA Fitness Association editor in chief, and editor of IDEA Fitness Journal, Sandy Todd Webster, also finds success with the addition of Instagram and Pinterest. “We are pushing a lot of content out these days via social (FB, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram). It’s doing a good job of driving traffic back to our site.” Todd Webster notices the positive feedback of social media through the growing numbers and traffic tied to the information on social media.
However, the IDEA Fitness Journal is aimed at a broader, younger audience. It is pertinent that editors make the right choices when it comes to social media and planning a social media strategy—not all types work for all trade publications. Todd Webster directs content development for IDEA Fitness Journal produced by the American Council on Exercise, among five other vertical fitness trade publications. The aim of her publications is to “provide continuing education for fitness professionals and offer them practical ‘Monday Morning Ready’ strategies to use with clients, interpret primary research for them and provide information that makes them more successful professionals.”
While trade publication editors continue to work on adopting effective social media strategies and believe that social media is here to stay, others in the industry feel that it is gradually becoming “wallpaper” and will eventually fade into the background. iMedia author, and industry analyst with the Altimeter Group, Rebecca Lieb wrote in a recent article titled Why social media is losing its sparkle : “Content marketing is the new term on everyone’s lips. As an analyst, I’m seeing (and hearing) that it’s top-of-mind with clients and technology vendors, at conferences, seminars, and trade publications — everywhere, in fact, digital marketing is discussed.” She adds, “Content is where email was. It’s where search was, and one day, it will be where social media is headed: fully integrated into marketing — not a nice-to-have but a must-have.”
There is no doubt that digital marketing is growing, but Todd Webster also believes that social media will eventually be augmented by mobile versions of the publications and will continue to incorporate video extras, on-the-spot reporting, how-to videos, infographics and social media integration. It will be a hybrid platform world so readers can consume the information the way they find most pleasing.
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