When that two Australian stalwart publications, Dolly and Cleo, announced their editorial teams would merge into one team, everyone wondered how two magazines which such distinct audiences can realistically maintain their readership. It’s obviously a very sad time for staff who are likely out of jobs. It is also serves as a reminder of the changing nature of the media and raises the question – will it be possible for these magazines to continue to effectively target these demographics and if not, where will those readers turn?
Online killed the print stars
Video did it to radio and now online is doing it to print. As someone who works in digital marketing with a focus on blog marketing it has been interesting to reflect on the implications of this for bloggers and for businesses with a marketing budget. Clearly, when considering digital content blogs are at the forefront of this medium and so far we have seen the PR industry placing increasing importance on them as news breakers and they are now a growing consideration for the marketing and advertising world.
What happens next in the digital industry
With the growth of blogs and online publications and an increased understanding of the influence of blogs, I would expect that we will see an increase in the allocation of budget being spent on online publications and communities. What this means for bloggers is both an opportunity to grow the way that they monetise their blogs through advertising. This will, or should, bring with it a need for bloggers to to act professionally and to demonstrate influence especially where they want to secure budget allocation.
However, I also think that as we see a shift toward this market we are going to continue in a state of flux because advertisers and marketers are struggling to tap into the different rules of engagement for bloggers (and for the most part PR agencies continue to miss the mark). In addition bloggers are locked into the mindset of sponsored posts as the primary way to monetise their sites and their influence.
As a blogger myself I have seen a dramatic increase in the number of pitches I receive for PR and while there has been an increase in the number of quality pitches I am receiving, relative to the overall number 99% are in the form of impersonal mass communications. I’ve written before here that those communications can be useful to bloggers however it doesn’t change the fact that to really achieve success in the blogosphere any agency or business who wants to work with bloggers needs to understand the different rules of engagement in that world.
What are the rules of engagement?
1. It is a personal space. Anyone who is able to engage in a personal way with a blogger has a better chance of getting coverage.
2. Money is important. Bloggers are self employed and as they spend increasing amounts of time creating content on their blogs and other platforms, monetising is important for bloggers. Businesses and agencies need to understand that there are ways to pay bloggers that go far beyond the sponsored posts.
3. Sponsored posts are the default at the moment. I believe it’s a very narrow way for a blogger to monetise to monetise their sites but it is the dominant way. I hope that over tmie bloggers and busineses will find more interesting ways to collaborate together. I’ve got my eye on and am exitied to be working with Ngahuia Galligan from Agents of Influence and some of the models of influencer and native advertising that she is working on. Native content has been at the heart of my own vision for blogger engagement and I see a great future for this type of influencer engagement going forward.
4. Really businesses need to be social themselves and understand that social media is meant to be fun and engaging. And I still see a large majority of Australian businesses on social media purely to see. Don’t even get me started on how the majority are still linking their Facebook and Twitter feeds leaving Twitter followers with a stream of “fb/blahblahblah in their stream!” The best way to sell yourself on social media is not to sell. I realise that’s bit of a confusing paradigm for people unfamiliar with how social media works but it is exceptionally important that any business who sets up a social media presence understands how to engage with their fans, consumers and influencers, on that platform and if they don’t know how to do it that they find good people to teach them.
Agencies finding their online magazine options
Bloggers who want to make the most of the current opportunities need to be able to break down what their community looks like and where they have the most influence. This is where the opportunities lie.
Agencies need to educate themselves on how working with bloggers and digital influencers differs from traditional media and media buying. The fact that the latter is declining while the former grows should be indication enough that the spaces operate differently and a flag that their approach to marketing and advertising will have to be different in a digital context if it’s going to work.