My goal in this specialist study is to investigate how online lifestyle magazines target their audiences. My hypothesis is that social media is one of the main ways in which online magazines target their audience, although they still use other techniques such as design, content and style.
To test my hypothesis, I have used various research techniques such as primary, secondary and a combination of academic and cultural sources.
A key point is to know who your audience is first, doing your research on them and this will lead to progress.
Jay (1996) stresses the importance of understanding your audience for commercial success and how businesses benefit from using social media. He included information to get beginners started with details on all aspects in marketing. However, the relevant information to myself was when he mentioned: “If you’re easily frightened, it’s quite terrifying how much impact seemingly tiny factor can have on the way your customers view you.” (1996, pg 192). This quote briefly enlightens the readers to be aware of what content is published and what it involves that can affect the audience.
There are a lot of subjects that can offend a person which writers should be wary of. This quote helps me think in a very broad manner. Content could affect how your audience thinks of you, a simple mistake could ruin the reputation for one. Besides this, Funk (2011) also mentioned “many things you might say without a second thought among friends might not be appropriate for your business.” (2011, pg 23). Taking everyone in your audience’s feelings into consideration is really important as it could be damaging in ways such as reputation and financial state.
Funk (2011) highlights the fact that “60% of Facebook users who become fans of a brand are more likely to buy the brand’s products”. Which is why it is crucial to have the best set up on social media, to engage your audience and have them become a consistent follower. He also mentions “74% of consumers are influenced in their buying decisions by the input of others on social networks”. (2011, pg 6) This is mainly because of the reviews and feedback you can access on social media from customers who have actually tried and tested products. Others that you interact with on social media can unknowingly become an influence for your online actions. Reviews are a great way of doing so, when someone you follow shares a blog or news post that you are interested in, you automatically want to read it so you go on their website. Another reason why it is crucial for online magazines to have a share feature.
My primary research has shown me how various lifestyle magazines such as Cosmopolitan and Glamour have gained access to a broader audience via social media. For example, followers count on Instagram. How they have advertised themselves over other social networks and even have their own section in Snapchat Discoveries. This also links back to how Jay (1996) mentioned social media is an advantage for businesses to gain more recognition. Most businesses now have a social media page, even if it is a simple e-mail, it is all online to make everything as simple as possible for the customers and the business owners. This can include processes from contacting owners to researching reviews for a product. Everything is much more organised and helpful such as reviews on pages like Facebook and maybe even businesses own websites.
To give an example, one of the online magazines I researched was Cosmopolitan. This is a lifestyle magazine which sells thousands of copies each week in print and digital. “Cosmopolitan has a combined print and digital circulation of 405,308 and its website, cosmopolitan.co.uk, engages more than 4.6m unique users per month”. (Hearst UK)
Cosmoplitan on Facebook have over 8 million likes keeping all these followers updated on everything they post, which is usually around 50-100 posts on social media per day.
If that wasn’t enough, they also have additional pages on other social sites. They have 1.6 million followers on Twitter and 1.9 million on Instagram. Cosmopolitan have more followers on Facebook, the most important way they target audiences is that they post more content on Facebook because they reach out to more people.
Online lifestyle magazines target their audiences very correspondingly. The main target audience are females around the ages of 16-25. The design is usually kept simple yet professional with a theme of black and white as a popular choice. The articles fill you with information while keeping content interesting such as adding interactive media, layout of the page, layout of the text, images and so on. They all connect with their audiences through social media as oppose to writing letters or e-mails. This easy process gains followers and subscribers on social media, leading the business into more success.
Comparing Cosmopolitan, which has been around since the 1960’s, to Zoella (2009), Zoella has successfully made her way to the top in social media. Cosmopolitan is also successful within their social media however, Zoella made a much quicker progress. She has 12 million subscribers on Youtube which means she is doing something right. I have looked further into this and found that she shares snippets of her content from her blog on every social media account that she has. This brings more readers and builds her recognition. “Laura Mercier is definitely one to have a look at if you’re shopping for that perfect gift!” (2015) Sugg talks to her readers like she knows them, which creates a bond between her fans and her.
The benefit online magazines achieve from sharing posts on other social media sites is that they share the content they have published on their site, to a larger audience. Speaking from experience, a simple image from the post they have published brings the readers to their website because they find the image interesting, a one sentence caption doesn’t fill them in and they want to know more, as I mentioned above.
Additional information I found on Click Consult (a digital marketing company) is that you have to target the right audience through social media. “Be sure to focus your marketing efforts on the sites your customers actually use.” Click Consult (2015). Expanding on this, the creator of an online lifestyle magazine, cannot delude an audience by making their page theme on radio for example, when it is about lifestyle.
In conclusion, referring back to my hypothesis, it is obvious to see that social media has a huge impact on online lifestyle magazine audiences. The benefit is not just for the business but for the customers too. Social media accounts are regularly updated so audiences rely on them for the newest insights.
- Click Consult (2015) How Social Media Advertising Works [online] date accessed: 25/01/2017- http://www.click.co.uk/blog/how-social-media-advertising-works-2/
- Cosmopolitan (2017) [online] date accessed: 07/12/2016- http://www.cosmopolitan.co.uk/
- Funk, T (2011) Social Media Playbook for Business, Praeger
- Hearst UK (2017) Cosmopolitan [online] date accessed: 07/12/2016- http://www.hearst.co.uk/brands/cosmopolitan
- Jay, R (1996) The Essential Marketing Sourcebook, Pitman Publishing
- Sugg, Z (2015) Laura Mercier Christmas [online] date accessed: 07/12/2016- https://www.zoella.co.uk/2015/12/laura-mercier-christmas.html