A tag cloud (a typical Web 2.0 phenomenon in i...

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Today, I was fortunate enough to get to attend the Social Media Club Conference in Orlando. I have really developed an obsession over social media over the last few months — I’ve been interested in it since I first started learning about it and experimenting with it five years ago. But now I see the real possibilities it brings to people, to businesses, to causes — and to magazines!

One of the recurring discussions today was how social media builds communities around a topic of interest, whether it’s travel or culture or movies or local government. This ability to gather people based on a niche interest has always belonged to magazines — not exclusively, mind you, but it was our badge of honor, our trumpet to advertisers, our flag to hoist. When Web 2.0 came along, some publishing executives embraced it while others quaked in their boots or minimized it as a passing fad those “teenagers” cooked up. Social media is such a natural extension of magazines, and I’m glad to see many media outlets finally getting their arms around it. (Many magazines didn’t adapt and ended up losing their reader base to the magazines that went to where the readers were.)

Some good examples of magazine-created social networks/platforms are Family Circle’s Momster, How Design’s blogs and forums, Martha Stewart’s Community, O Magazine Community and National Geographic’s Blog Central. Of course, several magazines have also ventured into the creation of apps for iPhone/iPad/Android/Blackberry, including Men’s Health, ESPN the Magazine and Cook’s Illustrated.

Publishing executives don’t have to wait for their once-a-month trip-to-the-mailbox impression; they can touch their readers every week, every day, every moment the reader wants to be touched. It’s really an amazing time, an era where a publisher can create content that lands not only on the printed page, but also on a website, in a blog comment, on a forum, in a status update, inside an app, as part of a tweet, and onto the pages of an e-book. Isn’t that amazing?

What other examples do you have of a magazine that has created a successful social media campaign or platform? Does the availability of niche content online make you read printed magazines more or less?

–Tyler Reed

Editor, The Sidebar Review

  1. Very interesting. Based on what you say, there is potential for a huge upheaval in the concept of magazines. To me, a magazine is something I read on the bus, in a waiting room or on an airplane–totally reactive, if that’s the word. The forms of communication you are describing cease to be a traditional “magazine,” and because, if my understanding is correct, magazines make their money from advertising, the entire business model will change. What do you see happening?

    • Communication with magazines used to be a one-way street: Magazine says it, reader absorbs it. If reader disagrees, reader writes a long letter to the editor and mails it in. Now, magazines say it, tweet it, Facebook it, blog about it and post it on the website, and readers agree, disagree, compliment, attack, discuss and otherwise harp about it in droves. Advertisers can be all those places, too; they are not relegated to the page anymore. Advertisers want to find their customers where they live/recreate/read/discuss/opine. Magazines can still provide that vehicle to the communities they’ve built, just in a different way.

  2. flyinggma says:

    Amazing at how the whole world is so interconnected almost instantly allowing for instant feedback, good or bad. Interesting post!

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