MagNet Conference Summary: New Social Sharing Customs

Magazines Canada recently hosted its annual MagNet conference in Toronto on June 4-7. The conference program covered a variety of topics for magazines and the publishing industry at large including editorial, digital, circulation and marketing. Newspapers Canada’s Communications Officer Jessica Napier attended the conference and has provided a summary on a digital session titled Open Book or Iron Curtain: New Sharing Customs with speaker Samantha Grice, Digital Managing Editor for Chatelaine magazine.

There’s no denying that social media platforms offer a variety of exciting opportunities for print media to engage with readers in new ways, but is it possible that we’re revealing too much in the digital space? As publications ramp up their social networking activity and increase online transparency, are we in danger of scooping ourselves?

The benefits and pitfalls of these new sharing customs were the topic of conversation during a digital session at Magazines Canada’s annual MagNet conference in Toronto on June 7. Speaker Samantha Grice, digital managing editor for Chatelaine magazine, shared her publication’s best practices and highlighted some of the problems and issues that can arise in the social media space.

As Canada’s leading women’s magazine, Chatlaine has found great success by engaging with readers on a variety of social networking platforms. Editors upload “behind the scenes” snapshots from photo shoots on Instagram, link to recipes on the Chatelaine website via Pinterest images, and post trailers for feature stories on the magazine’s YouTube channel to tease to content in the print edition before it’s released.

Grice described all of these social media activities as a way for the magazine to build anticipation for print content rather than spoiling it. “We think of our social media presence as a brand extension; we’re offering a sneak peek and giving our fans and followers an exclusive look into our creative process.” When readers feel like they are in the know and have this behind the scenes information, they’re more inclined to feel like part of your editorial team and their loyalty to your publication (over competitors) increases. Posting snippets of editorial content on social media ahead of the print edition can also give articles a second life explained Grice. “We’re teasing readers first with a short article online and then delving deeper into the material in the print.”

With so many social networks out there, Grice emphasized that editors should try to focus their time and resources on what works best for them. Rather than posting identical content across a variety of platforms, determine your goals and what you want to achieve through social media and then figure out how you can leverage each platform to your specific needs. For Chatelaine, Facebook is valuable for reader engagement and creating a dialogue while Pinterest produces the most traffic referrals to their website.

Certain channels are better than others when it comes to reaching out and communicating directly with readers. Grice suggested crowdsourcing opinions on upcoming story ideas or news items through Facebook. “People love to weigh in; ask your readers to help make editorial decisions – if you’re considering two different features, set up an online poll to ask them what they want to see.”

Social media not only allows publications to connect with readers and show off their unique personality, but these platforms can also help editors create a new level of trust and transparency between the publication and the reader. “We’re building our community by sharing exclusive content and revealing who we are,” said Grice, “and this insider infor