Social: An Easy-to-Follow Audience Development Program for Content Marketing

Every publisher should develop an audience development program specifically for social that stretches throughout the year

Previously, the only purpose of building an audience was to sell print subscriptions. Now, publishers are looking to sell digital subscriptions, develop leads for sponsors, increase memberships, and build communities. As the uses for your audience have expanded, so have the tools to build it.

There are seven major Audience Development models we have identified: search, social, syndication, email, retail, paid advertising, and direct mail. Today I’m focusing primarily on social, and using Green Gardens Network as an example. If you’re new to Mequoda, please take a moment to familiarize yourself with Green Gardens Network (GGN), our composite case study, and CEO Rose Harper, the embodiment of all our clients whose “example” we use as a teaching tool without revealing real publishers’ names or data.

At Mequoda, we’ve found that social media followers convert better into email subscribers than anyone else. At its heart, social media is about communicating and building a community. People with a common interest – whether in business, hobbies, activities, or anything else – share information and advice and soon build a presence around each other. Best of all, these people are usually active participants, and not just lurkers.

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Using social media to share valuable information will grant you access to those communities, and allow you to become a trusted source. If you really want to get your audience invested, give them things like a peek behind the scenes. You can give them a sense of your day-to-day process, and let them have a say in what you produce.

Managing social media can be time consuming. Rose from GGN will be publishing 4 pieces of content per day, and most Mequoda publishers are publishing at least three times per day. When it comes to managing the social that goes along with each post, we find that most online editors don’t have a system, and are typically scheduling social on the same day each article publishes.

That approach takes much more time than necessary, and can leave social media languishing when the editor goes on vacation or calls in sick. At Mequoda we recommend a long-term social media strategy for evergreen content that we call the 12x12x12. The premise is this:

  • For every article you write, write 12 unique twitter posts and two unique Facebook posts.

  • Schedule your Tweets out once per day for the first 12 days.

  • And then again once per month for the next 12 months.

  • Schedule your first Facebook post (which can double for Google+ or LinkedIn) on the day the article publishes.

  • Schedule the second Facebook post for six months later.

When evergreen content and blockbuster posts are recycled, we recommend giving these posts the same treatment (in Rose’s case, some of those 12 are recycled and blockbuster posts).

Additionally, we recommend aligning your email promotions with your social promotions. It will help you remember not to forget these very imporant posts are part of your regularly scheduled program.

Of course, social media platforms differ, and not every one may be right for your organization. Facebook seems to work for both B2B and B2C audiences, although it tends to work best for B2C. Some topics, especially in B2C, lend themselves to photos or how-to videos (Pinterest and YouTube), while others, especially in B2B, are better for sharing thought leadership or providing a forum for more comments and sharing with others (Twitter and LinkedIn).

For GGN, the social media audience development plan involves sharing information on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube. The things Rose shares drives people back to her website where they are offered a free report in exchange for an email address.

I’d love to hear what you’re maintaining as your system for social media when it comes to promoting new content.


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