Integrating Social and Print – The Right Channels At The Right Time.

Print is dead. Right?

No, that’s wrong. Print is alive and well, and an increasingly important part of an integrated content marketing strategy.

The real question is the integration.  How do you best integrate a social and print content strategy to fit today’s modern marketing mix?

Print Content is Alive and Well

It’s certainly no secret that digital – and especially social – platforms have captured the imagination of marketers for the last decade.  By some estimates Google and Facebook alone now command almost 40% of total advertising spend. And when it comes to Content Marketing, social media has been the primary source of the effort for most brands.

CMI’s content marketing research found that Social Media Publishing and Email are the primary technologies that marketers are using to assist with the management of content marketing efforts, with more than 80% of them citing it as their top technology.

However, there are distinct signs that print is alive and well for forward leaning brands.

For example, AirBNBMag is the newest print publication from the travel and leisure brand.  The magazine features user-generated stories and feature articles on travel destinations all over the world. Additionally, there are companies like Lincoln Electric that are bringing a print sensibility to industries like welding with their Arc Magazine.  And Casper, the new startup mattress provider has actually gone as far as to go “print-only” for their content marketing platform Wooly Magazine.

The commonality amongst these is they are deftly integrating both digital and print into their strategy, to create a more integrated and measurable experience.

The Three Best Practices of Integrating Social and Print

So, print is wonderful, and can certainly create a differentiated experience for a brand. And social media is great for reaching today’s younger audiences. And, of course, digital (broadly speaking) is a much more measurable approach.  So how can we begin to mix these ideas so that these tactics, together, can provide a much more cohesive marketing approach.

Here are three best-practices we have seen truly work

Integrate Content And Calls To Action Across Offline and Online

One of the wonderful things that Lincoln Electric does with its Arc Magazine is to leverage digital calls to action in the print magazine, and vice versa. Within the print magazine, the brand features URL’s for deeper exploration of content, or where the reader might find extended resources for a particular article.

For example, a feature covers story might also feature links to their resources section where subject matter experts are online to answer questions asked by readers.

Additionally, the company is not just publishing a print magazine, but writes each story in a way that can be extended through digital and social channels.  As they create content, they create more “lengthy” versions of a story, or with “behind the scenes” features that can be featured for the Web, mobile, or social aspects of the content itself.

As Craig Coffee – the leader of this program for Lincoln has said– “we measure every conceivable thing related to the online and digital footprint of the magazine and draw correlations between what we see there and what we think we know about the print side. We balance a lot of qualitative and quantitative data to validate our efforts.”

  1. Use Digital & Social To Leverage Promotion and Distribution

    By its very nature, physical distribution is expensive and hard for print publications. Therefore, getting your print piece into the right hands is even more important. This is where digital and social can play an important role.

    For example, Four Seasons Magazine is a wonderful print magazine published by the global hotel chain. It has been published for years but used to only be available to guests who would pick it up in the room.

    However, the hotel saw an opportunity to use its content to bring in new guests as an awareness generator.  So, the magazine developed a digital “content brand” for the magazine, giving it its own digital web site, email newsletter and integration into the social media feed.  So, now the company is driving subscription – and distribution – to the print magazine through its digital channels.

  2. Create A Content Creation Process, Not A Channel Publishing Process

    One of the most toughest to implement business practices is to get out of the channel or format first mentality.

    We are classically taught as marketers and communicators to think channel/platform first. And then ask ourselves how will we fill that platform with content. We start with the statement “I need an email”, or “I need a blog post”, or “I need a print ad”. We then proceed to design and create content that will fill that channel or platform accordingly.

    In order to add more linear types of platforms such as print, we have to get out of that cycle.  We must start with “what’s the story” and then follow a content creation cycle that takes ALL of the channels and platforms that may be fed by this particular piece of content into account.

    This is what feeds the two best-practices examples mentioned above.  When Lincoln Electric goes to create a feature story on a celebrity, they not only interview the featured celebrity. And also capture video content of the celebrity. All of the created materials will need to fill the content across print, digital and social.  They realize that if they measure twice and cut once, that building reusable components can help them create an efficient channel strategy.

Print In The Marketing Mix

Ultimately, print provides a wonderful opportunity for brands to differentiate on experiences that many have, given up on.“Inefficient”, “too expensive”, or “dead”are some of the most common reasons for giving up on print.

None of these things have to be true if we actually integrate the key pieces of social media and/or digital channels to help us create a truly cohesive content strategy.

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