Using Social Media to Drive Traffic and Increase Revenue

Re-posted from Newspaper Association of America

Social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter have become go-to platforms for newspapers hoping to expand their reach and generate revenue.

But some newspapers have yet to realize how these outlets can drive new audiences and help them take advantage of advertising opportunities.

Steve Weaver, CEO of GrowthWeaver, a Denver – based digital marketing services agency, advises newspapers to combine their expertise in advertising and content generation to utilize social networks to their advantage. He suggests beginning with the pillars of content, which he explained as the science within a newspaper of deciding what will drive readership and what is difficult to duplicate.

It really starts from a strategy of knowing what to do well and what content to have that’s different and unique and building social marketing audiences around that. For example on Facebook, aim to target very specifically the most likely consumers of your content,” Weaver said.

Social networks serve as information outlets for events in real time and as platforms where businesses connect effectively with consumers. Weaver notes that newspapers have two roles within the social marketing realm. As a publisher, they should drive revenue from their own content and as a remarketer, their role is to help other businesses within their communities improve their own social marketing.

“Otherwise, someone in their newspaper market is going to claim the space as a digital resource for social and digital marketing,” he said. “It’s almost impossible to imagine what can happen if newspapers are not that entity and certainly not the lead one.”

In addition, he notes that newspapers are currently in the perfect position to develop native advertising products with strong appeal to advertisers which also generates revenue. Marketers are expected to spend $4.3 billion on native ads in 2015, according to an eMarketer report.

While Facebook is certainly the most used platform for ads and expanding reach, Weaver notes that additional sites like LinkedIn, Pinterest and Instagram can help newspapers as well.

“You’ve got to know each platform well and have a strategy for each one both as a publisher and a remarketer. Instagram can be important but not critical for the newspaper industry but it’s central to the success of advertisers. It gives them a 30 to 40 percent boost in sales and as a newspaper, you better know it,” Weaver said.

To illustrate his point, Weaver noted that Instagram is the number one go-to social media site for brides to announce their engagement, Facebook is second. As a remarketer, newspapers could help bridal shops, caterers and photography vendors drive brand and product participation through these platforms.

Furthermore, newspapers can use LinkedIn to push business news to relevant job titles while Pinterest can be utilized to drive traffic to news sites by pinning boards focused around their organization’s pillars of content.

To drive new audiences and generate revenue, Weaver suggests newsroom staff should be the ones to establish their organization’s social media presence. But that may not always be the case.

“It depends on the aptitude of people who aren’t experts and if they have the opportunities to connect,” he said. “It takes skill, and  it takes a culture within the newspaper to be open, listen and believe that the consumer should have a say in what gets covered and how. The aptitude can be built but on the business side, you have to have professionals.”

Newspapers are discovering that having a social media strategy is critically important and knowing how to utilize each platform is the starting point. As news consumption continues to evolve, the need to use social media as a launching pad to expand reach and generate revenue will become even more significant.

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