The Best Audience Development Strategy Focuses on Audience Data and Behavior

Snapchat’s value as part of an audience development strategy is debated by marketers; The Boston Globe embraces Facebook notifications; Mashable bets on premium video as the future

The best audience development strategy is tested over time. The elements of the strategy are proven to be successful, and anything not working is re-examined. We take a look at this process in today’s news.

We begin with Snapchat and a report on popular social networks. Although Snapchat has garnered a lot of attention recently, it’s not necessarily the best audience development tool for publishers. min reports, “The early months of 2017’s social media scene were dominated by the long-awaited Snapchat IPO, even though the platform remains dwarfed by competitors that are already successfully copying the upstart’s content innovations. While publishers continue to vie for Snapchat’s attention, marketers are less impressed. In a joint study by RBC Capital Markets and AdAge of 1,600 brand executives, Snapchat’s ROI ranked far behind Facebook and Google and only ahead of AOL. Marketers cited declining engagement and open rates, poor targeting and reporting behind their muted opinion of the latest bright shiny object.”

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“As we see in February’s Social Media Boxscores, the heat remains around Facebook, Instagram, and even Twitter when it comes to magazine media brands.”

The article continues by talking about an audience development strategy that has been especially successful. “Social video remains one of the strongest drivers of growth and engagement across the increasing number of social channels posting it. Entertainment Weekly, for instance, capitalized not only on February awards shows but entertainment premieres and even National Margarita Day. Director of Social Media and Brand Partnerships Chris Rackliffe tells min, “Native video is performing incredibly well across social channels right now, with a particular focus on Facebook, as the potential reach there is astronomical. We posted 4.2 times as many native videos on Facebook in February 2017 as we did in February 2016, and 23% more than we did in January of this year.” And while there are emerging social channels challenging the usual suspects, Rackliffe finds that distribution “seems to be coalescing around the big platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, and so that’s where we’re focusing.” Entertainment Weekly also recently joined its sister Time Inc. brand People on Snapchat.”

Next, we move to Mashable, which holds a lot of value in social video. Digiday reports, “Mashable CEO Pete Cashmore thinks video shows — on streaming platforms and on social platforms — are the future.”

“Speaking at the Digiday Publishing Summit in Vail, Colorado, Cashmore said the “production of shows” is “one of the fastest growing” revenue lines for Mashable. In the past year, the company has been producing short-form shows for media partners including Bravo, Nat Geo and Verizon’s Go90. As Facebook and Snapchat seek TV-like video series, Mashable also plans to play in that space.”

Our last story looks at The Boston Globe’s success with Facebook as part of its audience development strategy. Digiday reports, “The Boston Globe, like many publishers, wants to send breaking news notifications directly to people’s phones … In the end, Facebook Messenger was the cheapest and easiest route, said Matt Karolian, director of audience engagement at the Globe. The paper began pushing out notifications on the platform just last week and already is seeing an 80 percent open rate.”

The article continues with more on the strategy to use Messenger. “Using Messenger is also part of an effort by the Globe to wring more out of Facebook’s huge audience this year. It’s already started a private Facebook group to let subscribers discuss the news. It plans to use Facebook’s 360-degree video for its Boston Marathon coverage. As the Globe sees it, this is a way to insulate itself against a Facebook strategy or algorithm change, so if Facebook, say, downplays news content in the news feed, the Globe can still reach audiences on the platform in other ways.”

What audience development strategy are you using successfully right now?

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