Engage with Your Readers on Social Media

Entering the world of social media can feel overwhelming at times. The networks and technology are changing on an ongoing basis and there are many opinions about what works best to engage with your audience. There are two things you CAN be sure of, YOU know your readers better than anyone else and your readership is involved in social networking in some capacity. So, if you’re ready to jump into the online world of social media and engage with your readers, here are a few simple steps to get you on the right path.

Find the right places to engage. Take the time to do a little bit of upfront research about your readers’ online habits. Pinpoint the appropriate social networking sites that your readers are engaged in. There are some great tools available to you to help you do this – even some free or low cost options. Research will take some form of investment of your time and/or money (depending on how much information you want), but what you put into this is what you’ll get out. It’s worth taking that extra few hours or spending that bit of cash upfront to be an informed participant. Of course, if you have the ability to personally ask a sampling of your readers, the first-hand information you receive would be immensely helpful. Also consider surveying your readership through a free and simple Survey Monkey survey.

Once you learn more about your readers and where they interact online, decide what your voice will be when you interact with your readership. Be strategic:

– Keep the tone consistent with your brand voice and encourage engagement.
– Stay upbeat, positive and relevant. Ask yourself, would I want to interact with a brand using this voice on social media?
– Keep the sales language to a minimum. Again, think of how you would react to a brand trying to constantly sell you their products and services.

Start off slowly with one or two social media channels. Feel out the response from your readers on these online channels and adapt to their conversations as you become more familiar with the type of content they prefer. One thing to keep in mind is that it takes time (just like with researching) to build your social media audience. Unless you’re Charlie Sheen or Eminem, you’ll need to nurture your social media channels and watch it grow with patience.

As you continue to foster your online conversations, stay updated on trend data and the latest, greatest social media tools. For this you can’t go wrong with social media resources like Mashable, Brian Solis and Steve Rubel.

Now for a few trends to keep your eye on:

– Use share functionality (such as ShareThis and AddThis) to spread your message across multiple channels and reach new audiences. Whether it’s a blog post or your digital magazine, make sure it’s shareable.

– Know when your readers are online and engaging in conversations. Research has shown that the most popular time of day that people are participating on Facebook is at the top and bottom of the hour. Meetings have just ended, and people return to their desks to see what’s happening online. Day-parting your messages is key to catching your audience when they sign on. Once you know more, use tools such as Cotweet, Timely, Hootsuite or Su.pr to schedule your messages to go out on time.

– Find ways to integrate online conversations into an offline setting and vice versa. In the weeks leading up to an event you’ll be participating in, share the information with your online community. If you’re going to be speaking at an event, ask your readers for ideas on what to speak on and offer ticket discounts to your connections if possible. It’s also important to record your speech and share it online. Videos are a powerful medium.

What social media tips can you share?

What Does The Future Newsstand Look Like?

We’re all curious to know what the future holds for the magazine industry. The digital space has become a second home for print publications, but how will the newsstand evolve? Let’s look at a few of the key trends affecting the newsstand, as we’ve known it.

1.  One trend that the publishing industry simply can’t ignore is the emergence of digital platforms. The tablet platform is a game-changer; and plays a strong role in helping publishers expand readership, provides more opportunities to repurpose content libraries and creates new business models. Publishers that embrace new ways to integrate print and digital across platforms will put themselves at the forefront of the publishing industry transformation.

2.  The new frontier for magazine publishers is interactive media. Whether print or online, it’s essential to add a social layer to the content experience in an effort to stay relevant in an over-populated space. It may be a QR code, a Facebook promotion or a section featuring the up-and-coming blogs in your field, but print media should not be shy about showing off the latest tech innovations. For instance, companies like Microsoft came bursting onto the scene with programs such as Tag, which launched in January 2009, and spent their first year making a splash in the print magazine industry with partners like Condé Nast Traveler and Lucky.

3.  The social revolution also brings recognition and credibility to bloggers in a way that just wasn’t done five years ago. Style Sample, a fashion magazine promoting independent style for all, knows the importance of bloggers in reaching the budding-fashionista masses. The idea behind this trend is to leverage the readership of these blogs, which can even reach in the millions! Magazines are another medium that bloggers can use to develop an even closer and authentic bond with their readers. By embracing this new reality, any person who has a voice to be shared and a community to reach can become their own publishers. From bloggers to associations and non-profits to marketers, your magazine can help broaden your audience and provide new forms of engagement.

We’re just scraping the surface of what’s possible in publishing as more technologies emerge and content continues to evolve.

Where do you see the newsstand heading? And, more importantly, how do you intend to keep ahead of trends? Leave your comments below.

What About Subscriptions?

A number of publishers have asked about the possibility of MagCloud offering subscription services.

While we don’t offer traditional subscriptions today, we do have many publishers using the “Ship to Group” feature which gives them complete control of their mailing list but leverages MagCloud for print management and global distribution.

These publishers offer subscriptions from their own website, place a bulk order on the MagCloud website and then use “Ship to Group” to manage the printing and distribution of their magazine to their subscribers.

Taking advantage of “Ship to Group” is very easy:

1. Create an address group in your MagCloud address book (Account>Address book>Add New Group). Name your group and select group members from existing recipients in your address book.

2. Once your recipients and group are ready, add the magazine(s) to your cart. Set the quantity to the number intended for each recipient, not the total for all recipients. For example, if you are sending 1 copy to 20 recipients you should set the quantity to 1.

3. When you get to the shipping page, click “Select from Address Book »”, choose your address group and complete checkout. That’s it! Costs will be displayed for the total order including all recipients.

If you have a large subscription list send us an email and we can upload the group list for you.

The publisher pays for group orders but they qualify for our bulk discount of 25% off the printing price when the order includes 20 or more copies of the same issue. Assuming you have 20 or more subscribers, this allows you to make more profit or offer your magazine at a lower price.

One other advantage that publishers find is that this model allows them to maintain a direct list of their subscribers’ contact information so they can directly contact them if desired and court potential advertisers since you have an accurate count of subscribers.

Most publishers who use “Ship to Group” also have a simple website to advertise their magazine and take subscriptions. They often put their website URL in their MagCloud magazine and issue descriptions so that if someone finds the magazine on MagCloud they can be pointed back to the subscription offering.

Publishers can also use the MagCloud “Follow” feature to let customers who follow them know whenever they have new issues available.

For publishers not able or interested in managing their own subscription orders and payment we would be interested in hearing what type of subscription service would be of the highest value to your magazine.  As you know there are lots of different subscription models, and when you factor in print and digital options it gets even more complex.  As MagCloud is a self-service content publishing platform, we have to look at base options that meet the broadest range of publisher needs.

We look forward to your feedback on what your top choice for a subscription offering would be.

Our Favorite Features of 2010


As we are kicking off a new year here at MagCloud Central we thought we would look back at our favorite new features of 2010.

Ship to Group lets you mail magazines to multiple recipients with a single order.

Improved Sales Stats gives publishers more insight into how their magazines are performing—page views, sales per day, number of followers, locations to where issues are shipped, and of course, your profit!

Upload from Flickr lets you easily turn your Flickr photo sets into a magazine without the need to use a design program or upload a PDF file.

MagCloud Messages is a way for members to ask publishers questions, give props to their favorite magazines and get updates on new issues.

Profile Pictures lets you give your MagCloud profile some personality. Simply click on “Account” at the top of the page (you must be logged in) and edit your profile to upload or change your profile picture.

Perfect Binding, one of our most requested features: gives magazines a more professional look with a square spine and uses glue to hold the pages, like a paperback book.  They can also accommodate a much higher page count – up to 384 pages.

The Follow Feature is a way to give a publisher a little bit of encouragement. If you follow a magazine, the publisher will be able to send you messages about submissions, new issues, and other magazine news.

Promote Page makes it easier for publishers to get the word out about their magazine.  From MagCloud widgets for showcasing your magazine on your blog or website, to MagCloud badges which help attract new followers, to email and Facebook and Twitter share functions, the Promote Page helps you tell the world how great your magazine is.

Expanded International Shipping opens up MagCloud to the rest of the world, with worldwide shipping for multiple issues up to 300 pages.

These are some of our favorites; feel free to tell us which are yours.

And next week come back and find out what we have in store for you in 2011!