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Audience Development Strategy: Snapchat and Facebook in the Spotlight for Social

Condé Nast hiring team dedicated to Snapchat as part of audience development strategy; Facebook garners likes but major publishers fleeing Instant Articles

Many publishers are utilizing social platforms as part of their audience development strategy. Today we’re looking primarily at Snapchat and Facebook, as these two platforms have been receiving a lot of attention recently.

We begin today with Condé Nast, which is hiring a Snapchat team. AdWeek reports, “Starting this month, GQ, Wired and Self will begin publishing weekly editions to Discover, the section of the app where 20-something publishers crank out mobile content. Time Inc. and Hearst also run multiple channels alongside content from big-name publishers like The Washington Post and The New York Times that reach millions of people every day. As part of the investment in Snapchat, Matt Starker, general manager of digital at Condé Nast, said the company is building a team to help publishers create more content.”

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“After testing Discover with a mini takeover edition in November, Carolyn Kylstra, editor in chief of Self, said the app opens up a new audience and requires a different approach to content but not necessarily different content.”

According to Kylstra, much of the content is the same for Snapchat. “”The content that is interesting that performs and does well on Snapchat is honestly the same type of content that performs on Instagram or Facebook or everywhere else that we exist—it’s just a matter of translating it in the Snapchat language,” she said. “Every edition has Snapchat-specific content in it. It’s become part of our routine.””

It’s not surprising that Condé Nast is using a dedicated team for Snapchat because Snapchat’s popularity is growing. As eMarketer reports, “Some 78% of respondents said they use Snapchat on a daily basis, which was a slightly higher proportion than said they use Instagram (76%) or Facebook (66%) every day.”

“Of those who use Snapchat on a daily basis, the frequency of usage was high. Roughly seven in 10 said they use it more than six times per day, and over half said they use it more than 11 times a day.”

“Not surprisingly, millennials make up the largest share of Snapchat’s US user base. eMarketer estimates millennial monthly active users (MAUs) of the platform will total 43.9 million in 2017.” That’s a good reason not to jump on the bandwagon unless your demographics call for it, but it’s a great reason to test the waters if millennials are your target audience.

Our last story looks at Facebook as an audience development strategy. According to MPA, Facebook accounts for 43.8% of the social network share of total magazine media industry likes and followers.

However, Facebook’s wooing of publishers with Instant Articles has not been faring as well lately. We keep hearing mixed reports from different publishers, so take anything you hear with a grain of salt, but The Verge reports, “In discussions with Facebook executives, former employees, publishers, and industry observers, a portrait emerges of a product that never lived up to the expectations of the social media giant, or media companies. After scrambling to rebuild their workflows around Instant Articles, large publishers were left with a system that failed to grow audiences or revenues. Facebook says the adoption of Instant Articles is growing quickly, and that upcoming changes to the platform will lure back some of the major media companies that have abandoned it. But given Facebook’s other priorities, the future of Instant Articles is less certain than ever.”

This of course contradicts other news from publishers like The Washington Post who have said that this new platform was “very lucrative” for them.

So I think it’s safe to say that results have varied greatly from publisher to publisher, but The Verge writes:

“At the end of last year, DCN surveyed its members on the financial performance of content published to third-party platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Google’s AMP project. It found that not one publisher reported earning more money through Instant Articles than they did through their own properties. “We make less money on Instant Articles than we do on mobile web, which is probably everyone’s experience,” said Bill Carey, director of audience development at Slate. And while Facebook reported that publishers using Instant Articles saw readers consuming 25 percent more content, most DCN members had seen no such increase.”

It appears that although Facebook is still a worthy social platform for an audience development strategy, Instant Articles are not the focus. But to expect Instant Articles to perform better than your own site is not only unrealistic, but also not a great goal. Ideally, it should be additional traffic, not supplemental.

Do you agree or disagree? Leave a comment below with your thoughts.

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