The Role of Social Media in the Publishing Industry

By on November 1, 2018

National Geographic – over 92M followers on Instagram
Stephen King – almost 5M followers on Twitter
Penguin Random House – around 746,587 followers on Facebook

Looking at the examples above, one might have the impression that social media has permanently settled down in the publishing industry. Not only do book authors or journalists have their own profiles and accounts on different platforms, but also magazines and publishing houses. Today, their popularity is measured by the number of thumbs-up clicks, follower reactions or the number of retweets.

The consequence of the technological revolution is an increasing tendency among publishers and authors to start their digital journey – it means publishing, selling online and promoting magazines, books and brands via social media. The breakthrough happened in 2015, when the magazines saw a 300% increase in activity on their social media platforms.

A few years ago a discussion took place on whether Facebook is still only a tech company and an online platform, or a media company. Today, in the face of technological change, a new question has arisen – should the definition of a publisher be updated to include social media and online platforms?

One thing is for sure – to achieve success in both print and digital publishing fields, it is necessary to use online marketing solutions today. Social media turned out to be a great tool for providing possibilities for increasing readership and growing revenue. What is more, magazine readers expect publishers to maintain an engaging and relevant social media presence.

In view of technological changes and the content being addressed to more and more tech-savvy readers with very specific needs, it’s time to ask what role does the social media really play in today’s publishing world.

Global audience growth

Whether we talk about print or digital publishing, magazines or books, social media is a tool which allows publishers to reach out to every type of readers. It is not exaggeration to say that it is a huge chance to present yourself to a global audience and build confidence in your brand. Every post or Tweet can be shared and becomes immediately visible to a group of new, potential readers.

Being active thanks to publishing content, links, and promo videos is only a part of social media strategy. It also includes engaging in discussions, writing comments, observing, liking and sharing – in order to increase visibility and allow others to find you.

However, building dozens of social media channels is neither effective nor necessary. It is better to invest time in one or two platforms and build a really solid presence there. The key to their selection should be the analysis of the target group.

Contact with readers and between them

Social media is a direct way to connect with current and potential readers. These platforms allow for an easier connection with other users or customers who can be uncompromising in their own comments and opinions. The publishers get instant feedback in the like, share or emoji form.

Media platforms are a reflection of people’s natural behavior in many areas. It is a great example of how online recommendation marketing works – there is a bigger chance that the magazine will receive a thumbs-up, if someone from the reader’s friends group has just liked it. People need to share their experience and guide the opinions of others on the digital level too. So it is natural to create communities similar to Facebook groups.

Immediate news notification

Social media fulfills the role of notification in real-time. One of the main reasons why publishers and some brands are present on these platforms is the need to keep their followers informed (and vice versa, the followers want to stay up to date). This rule pertains primarily to news publishers, who go a step further in online marketing and notify their readers about the latest content via mobile app.

A quick browse through social media (which we all do in the morning and many times during the day) allows you to learn about current events, see the latest magazine issue or a new book. Furthermore, many channels offer live-streaming and thanks to this feature it is possible to show people events, conferences, a book launch party or an interview they couldn’t see live otherwise.

Increase revenue

Social media advertising can provide a great addition to the content monetization strategy. The strength of this solution is using information about users in order to share the most relevant ads.

    • Growing sales and fan-base.
    • Using customer generated content for ads
    • Better targeting of new and returning customers
    • A/B test using platform analytics

Get inspired by others and cooperate with them

Social media is a vault of information. Following other publishers and brands (particularly those that hold thousands of likes, followers or comments under their posts) may be a way to gain knowledge about the field we are interested in. Sometimes, it is also a way to know what our competitors are doing or predict what their plans are.

Thanks to channels like LinkedIn it is easier to reach out to the leaders in our niche and offer them cooperation (of course, the choice of channel depends on what kind of niche we are talking about).

Everyone can be a publisher or a journalist

The fact that the vast majority of people have camera phones and access to the Internet makes it possible for everyone to be a journalist. Just upload a photo or a movie on a social media channel and watch your fan-base grow. The frequent result of this is fake news – untested, untrue information shared online that gains immediate popularity. Strangely enough, this situation has worked in favor of the publishing industry. People understand the need to receive reliable information from a source they can trust.

Social media plays a big role in the professional lives of indie authors. For them, using social media is the main promotion line for their publications. It increases independence in making decisions, and provides oversight of the entire process of book promotion alone, without the participation of the publishing house.

Publishing and social media in the future

The creation of a comprehensive, credible and brand-coherent social media campaign requires time, commitment and a long-term strategy.

However, looking at the potential of social media channels and the successes of publishers, authors and magazines active on the Internet, the conclusion is obvious: it is worth devoting time to analyzing the target group and running selected channels to go directly to current and potential readers.

So let’s get the best out of social media, remember real-time marketing, and the fact that today’s technologies and platforms can become outdated even faster than we think. And what are your predictions? Will social media replace digital publishing platforms? How will the publishers and authors use social network services in the future?

About Paulina Kubala-Chuchnowska

Paulina is a Junior Marketing Specialist with PressPad Digital Publishing Software Platform for PDF magazines, WordPress publishers, and authors. She is an active social media user who surrounds herself with wonderful people that she loves to spend time with. She also loves movies and cats.
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