Maximizing Marketing Opportunities in Social Media
"More than half (55 percent) of all online American youth ages 12-17 use online social networking sites," according to a national survey* conducted by Pew Research Center in November-December 2006. No surprise there, but teenagers aren’t the only ones participating in the social media boom. About 25 percent of the traffic on Wired.com is on blog pages. And that provides a valuable opportunity for collaborative, mutually beneficial, publisher-marketer partnerships, both online and offline.
"We have a very extensive blog network," says Josh Stinchcomb, director of integrated marketing, "and a very engaged, interactive audience that is driven from the magazine to the Web and sometimes back to the magazine. And we’re not talking about kids here." The average age on Wired Digital is 42; for Wired magazine readers, 35 to 42, depending on the study.
"A truly integrated sponsorship," he continues, "where the reader is driven from one medium to another and is also engaged, is the Holy Grail for advertisers. The key, though, is to find a relevant way to integrate the advertiser while also adding value for the reader."
Xerox recently sponsored a program with Wired in which readers were invited to go onto Wired.com and upload a photo of themselves to be printed on the cover of their copy of the July issue. Some 11,000 photos were submitted within three days. The first 5,000 people who submitted a usable photo received the personalized covers. The others could use the online tool to design their own cover, write their own headlines, and send it to a friend or print it.
"It was the first-ever user-generated cover design," says Stinchcomb, "and a huge success. It was an integrated program in which Xerox advertised in both the magazine and online and also produced the individual covers on its variable data printers, where each page that comes off the line is different." While this program wasn’t related to any of the Wired.com blogs, a lot of the covers have since popped up in the blogosphere.
"We’ll probably do something else with this group," says Stinchcomb, "because we know they’re very passionate about Wired, they like to interact, and they like user-generated content. The next time another cool program comes along, this will be the logical group to contact first."
Meanwhile, CondeNet launched social networking site Flip.com in February 2007 to fuel the creativity, ambition, and desire for celebrity of teenage girls. Girls who join Flip.com create flipbooks,art projects of up to 264 pages filled with their own photos, drawings, scanned images, and audio files, as well as lettering, stickers, and clip art supplied by Flip.com and images supplied by sponsors. Some of the branded images are dynamic and, when embedded into a flipbook and clicked, lead the viewer to the sponsors selected landing page. In its first five months, roughly 750,000 pieces of user media were uploaded onto the site.
"We’ve heard so much conversation about the unsavory stuff on social network sites," says Grenier. "Flip.com showcases what’s great about each girl’s work. It’s a very intimate environment, very targeted, and tremendously safe."
Flip.com recently partnered with PacSun, an important Teen Vogue advertiser, in which three girls won the opportunity to join PacSun’s advertising shoot for its back-to-school campaign. "They entered the contest by creating a flipbook about why they should win," explains Grenier. "One winner shadowed the stylist; another, the producer; and the third, the photographer. Afterwards, they each created a flipbook about the experience." Teen Vogue also produced 20 podcasts ; a mini-reality show ; and promoted them in the magazine and on Flip.com, TeenVogue.com, and, of course, PacSun.com.
"Things bubble up quickly on blogs and other social media," says Stinchcomb, "and it’s a two-way conversation. That’s the luxury of the medium. You can experiment, generate or test ideas, and track the activity very quickly."
And it’s no small consideration that the CPM publishers can charge for online community-based sponsorship opportunities is infinitely higher than for random banner impressions on the site; Jane E. Zarem
* Parents & Teens Survey, November-December 2006, Pew Internet & American Life Project