Now that your Instagram business account is set up, and you’re posting like a pro to grow your audience, it’s time to make effective use of Instagram to increase revenue.
While Instagram might not seem like an obvious revenue stream for magazine publishers, the growing numbers are encouraging. According to the Association of Magazine Media, Instagram became the second-largest social media audience for magazine publishers in 2018, bumping Twitter into third.
And while there aren’t many publisher-owned accounts in the top 100 most-followed, their audiences are engaged. And, audience engagement attracts brand advertisers. “Normally, brands work with publishers for distribution. But on Instagram, they have distribution,” explained Mariana Rittenhouse, director of brand strategy at Instagram intelligence company Dash Hudson.
Magazine publishers have an advantageous position in the social space. As health and wellness publisher Mindbodygreen’s CEO and founder Jacob Wachob explains, “We sit at the intersection of content, community and commerce. A lot of brands want to play in this space.”
So, what’s the best way to get started? Read on to learn how to drive the audience growth and engagement that, in turn, drives revenue.
Focus on your target audience
Unfortunately, there are no audience building shortcuts on Instagram. If you have name recognition, you have a leg up on others. But, for the most part, you need to build your audience from scratch.
Magazine publishers have a couple key advantages: Content and good design.
It’s important to remember that Instagram is a content-focused platform. In order to grow followers, you need to connect with people through the right visuals – know your audience and what they want. One great way to engage with your audience is by creating a community and directly interacting with your followers.
Go to follower feeds that are in line with your category to see what they’re posting. Leave comments or better, ask for permission to repost their content and tag them in it, which builds relationships, drives interactions and increases engagement.
Owned media versus Earned media
According to findings shared by Digiday at their Content & Commerce Conference in 2018, “owned” media (your content) and “earned” media (mentions, tags, reposts) have equal importance.
In order for publishers to successfully monetize Instagram, owned media and earned media work together to cement leadership status.
Owned media = the content you produce
Owned media is what you produce, and the more strategic you are, the better your chances to increase audience reach and engagement. This is what ultimately makes Instagram profitable for publishers.
Here are a few tips for owned media success:
- Get around the algorithm. If you aren’t sure what that is, here’s a helpful article.
- Analyze what works and what doesn’t for your followers by looking at the success or failure of each post. Did one have higher likes, but another had more comments? If there were similar visuals, but different captions, which one was more successful? This allows you to cultivate an account that people want to see and appeals to paid advertisers who will clearly see you know how to captivate your target audience.
Earned media = word of mouth
Earned media enables your account to grow organically. Most people discover new Instagram accounts through tagged content in their current feed. This means that publishers need to be getting tagged in other people’s posts to increase their chances of being discovered.
Here are a few ideas to promote earned media success:
- Interact with those in your community – people like to feel special. As mentioned above, commenting on and liking photos and reposting user content of those who follow you and those within your category, are great ways to build relationships and engagement.
- Create authentic partnerships. Team up with other people and brands that line up with your focus. For example, if you’re a food magazine, conduct an interview with a category influencer. Once the interview is done, you post about it on your account (tagging the influencer) and the influencer does the same (tagging you in the post caption), with the mutually beneficial effect of driving traffic to each other’s feeds.
Product placement, affiliate links + e-commerce
Many publishers have found success with product placements – an advertiser’s product is photographed, you create a post about that product, tag the brand and publish it to your feed. To take product placement one step further, it’s also possible to profit from followers purchasing it by using affiliate links and e-commerce strategies that push consumers directly to stores.
For example, you can publish a brand-focused post on Instagram, then drive to a related post (seeded with affiliate links) on your website via a link in your Instagram bio section. One note about branded content like product placements – be sure to cultivate these posts according to what resonates most with your audience, use the same types of images and language.
Although more complex, influencer marketing is another way to monetize Instagram and big publishers like Cosmopolitan and The New York Times are beginning to understand how to utilize these powerful individuals in their marketing efforts. For regional publishers, this means reaching out to individuals in your area who are not only in line with your brand, but who also have sway and pull enough to drive traffic to your feed. Creating original content together is an emerging trend that can be more successful than the typical branded content.
Within the publishing industry, Instagram is still a growing trend with so much opportunity, especially for those who embrace a particular niche. Though the ins and outs of how to best monetize are still being discovered, one thing is certain: the more unique the community, the more authentic the interactions, and the more cultivated the content, the higher the engagement is. And that’s when the monetization magic can happen.