Opening the Page on MySpace
Teen magazines aren’t the only publications turning to MySpace. More than 40 consumer magazines are using MySpace profiles as a promotional tool.
The bond between the poster children of "new media", MySpace, and old "media", print magazines, is surprisingly strong. According to Magazine Publishers of America, more than 40 of their member magazines keep profiles on MySpace, which is dabbling in print itself. Rumors have circulated about the service developing its own print magazine featuring user-generated content, and in March 2007, UK-based trend magazine Marmalade will publish an entire issue filled exclusively with content submitted by MySpace users (myspace.com/marmalademag.com).
More U.S.-publishers are turning to MySpace as a promotional tool. A recent Pew Internet Report says that more than half of online American youths between ages 12-17 use online social networking sites, and many of the magazines on MySpace reflect that trend, including Seventeen, Jane and Cosmopolitan. But a much wider base of magazines is beginning to embrace the community value of MySpace. Titles ranging from digital-only spiritual and lifestyle magazine UPSHOT to enthusiast publisher Mini Trucker have developed profiles as a way to open up more of a two-way channel of communication.
Even New York has a MySpace profile. "We’re always looking for ways to find new readers," says Serena Torrey, director of communications, strategy and business development. "When you put a lot of money and time into traditional vehicles like direct mail, our view is to put a comparable amount of time and money into non-traditional vehicles that target different audiences."
Torrey stumbled across the MySpace opportunity almost by accident. While looking online at her brother’s profile, she noticed several other magazines and decided to create a profile for New York. Today the magazine has 1,000 MySpace "Friends," and has generated 20 new subscriptions from the MySpace page. Torrey says she isn’t sure how many viewers followed links from the profile to the New York Web site to subscribe. While 20 new subscribers might not seem like much, "We got them for zero cost," says Torrey. "’When people sample the magazine, they stick with it. They subscribe, they renew, they write blog posts about it."
In 2007, Torrey says New York will be expanding its presence on both MySpace and community site FaceBook, not only to promote magazine content and subscriptions but also contests and events. ‘We really want to professionalize this," she adds. "We want to find new ways to make the audience feel engaged with magazine. The sense of engagement our younger audience has is different from 40 or 50 year olds reading the magazine."
From Promos to Partners
Last May, music magazine Nylon partnered with MySpace to create its seventh annual online music issue. As part of the agreement, Nylon ran banner ads on MySpace, and soon built its own profile. Today, that profile generates 150,000 hits per month. "One of great things about MySpace is it allows our readers to create their own content," says Nylon president Don Hellinger "They can send messages to us, and give us feedback on the covers and articles we use."
As part of its sampling program, Nylon features a digital edition of the magazine from NXTBook Media that generates about 10,000 downloads each month. According to Hellinger, the promotion has generated several hundred digital-only subscribers.
While Hellinger acknowledges that Nylon’s MySpace efforts are new, it’s also prompted the magazine to look at other online community promotions, including Nylon TV on video file sharing site YouTube. "We’ve just started being able to measure those new subscribers from the MySpace site and we’ve noticed those people are a lot more ‘sticky’, they keep coming back to the site again," says Hellinger. "It really is building the community and they have a lot more to say than the typical print subscriber."
For UPSHOT, MySpace serves as a more affordable and reliable promotional vehicle. "Originally we were looking at doing e-mail blasts, which aren’t always dependable and it’s a big expense to spend $500 each time, only to find out a few people got it," says editor and publisher Paul Elliot. "Here, you know people got the e-mail because these are your Friends sending you comments every day."
UPSHOT joined MySpace last fall and Elliot knew immediately that simply posting a generic page wouldn’t cut it. "In the beginning it was kind of slow because we didn’t know how to run it," he says. "The funny thing about MySpace is, if you get some young people to work with you, that can make the process work a lot faster."
Elliot tapped his nephew, who suggested promoting the MySpace profile in a similar fashion to the Web site, including designing the page to look like the Web site. A digital version powered by NXTBook Media lets viewers experience the magazine. "It’s not just about putting up a bunch of colorful pictures," says Elliot. "You can put different items in there, including polls and flyers."
UPSHOT posts music samples and games as part of the profile, including a flash basketball game that runs with the NBA season. "We’ve had people from overseas say, ‘We love that game, keep it on so we can play during our lunch hour,’" says Elliot.
The magazine is moving slowly toward monetizing its MySpace profile. Elliot gave space to one advertiser in the upcoming issue as part of the main magazine buy. "We haven’t gone deep into charging, MySpace is a different medium and it’s not ours," Elliot says.
Still, he does see it as potential moneymaker in addition to a promotional tool. UPSHOT is creating flyers for clients that the magazine will distribute to its network of Friends. "This is where we will probably charge in the future," says Elliot. "We’re putting it in beta mode, and we’ll will see where it goes from there.
Elliot says UPSHOT is about to go into "turbo mode" with its MySpace page. "A lot of our hits are coming from MySpace traffic," he says. "Over the past couple of months, traffic on the Web site has tripled. This is turning out to be a huge opportunity for us. It’s vibrant right now. Everybody’s on it, you could turn around and find out your grandmother is on it."