Approaching Multiple Platforms with Consistency
Written by Joy Beachy
Once upon a time, the strongest interaction a publishing brand had with its audience was the publication it produced. These days, brands are buoyed across channels of streaming content, from websites to social platforms to email and beyond. The challenge is in finding ways to deliver the same quality content in a consistent way so everyone has the same experience with the brand.
Not everyone succeeds: according to a survey by Accenture, 78% of customers have a fragmented experience with brands as they move across channels. This paints a fuzzy picture of the brand for the customer, and when it comes to the race of providing content, brand loyalty matters. At the same time, using multiple platforms is a great tool for connecting with and building an eager audience. According to a survey jointly supported by Nxtbook Media and Folio: magazine*, the top three reasons for looking to online communities for target audiences include:
1. To encourage a connection between audience members and our brand
2. To boost our readership numbers
3. To develop a personality or voice for my brand
When talking about building a consistent, platform-ready brand, it takes a strategy, planning, and concerted effort.
Does “consistent messaging” mean the same message across every channel?
No. Matter of fact, if you say the same thing across every channel, you risk overexposure, or frustrating your audience with either irrelevant or repetitive content. When we talk about consistency, make sure the tone and personality is the same across any channel. The words you choose, the colors, the images, everything should have a distinct quality that points to your overall brand.
It’s a difficult concept to nail down, but let’s look at the brand Zappos. Ostensibly, they sell shoes, clothes and fashion items. This makes them just like a million other brands, give or take a few. What makes them one in a million is that they realize – and advertise – that they aren’t really a fashion company, but a service company. Because they believe that “delivering happiness” is the #1 priority, it sets them apart from the rest. Zappos profits from delivering a superior experience, and in the process sells more product. That is their messaging, which the disseminate across each channel with their signature Zappos vibe.
How can I be sure I’m getting the right messaging to the right audience?
Great question! You’ll need to look to your metrics to see where you’re pulling your audience from before you start any targeted campaigns. Let’s give a “real” example of audiences and where you might pull them. Let’s assume you have a digital travel magazine you’d like more people to find and use. Your audiences might be found across these channels:
– Your current readership base (sourced from your fulfillment center)
– Passengers who frequently purchase travel online (sourced from 3rd party travel site)
– Travelers who use large hotel chains in the areas you cover (sourced from 3rd party data)
– Members who have high engagement in your blog or newsletter (sourced from your email database)
– Travelers who posted/tweeted about areas of interest that you cover (sourced from social media)
Some of these audience-development channels are capitalizing on your current audience (current readers). To these members you’ll want to send upsell messaging, such as new special editions, renewal rates, extra video coverage, and so on. But you’ll want to keep the upsell messaging to channels touching your current audience base as those promotions are irrelevant and frustrating for those unfamiliar with your brand. Other channels are more appropriate for acquisition posts, such as social media or 3rd party sites. On these channels you should focus promotions geared toward getting someone familiar with your brand and what you offer.
Obviously this is an example that only touches the surface of how you should consider marketing to different channels. As you get more adept at dissecting the important data collected from each channel, you can refine your messaging to be more personalized and specific to that audience.
What if I have multiple publications: how do I maintain brand consistency?
You have a couple of options. If you want to keep the publishing brand the focus, rather than the individual publications, you can. In that case you could keep all of the branding tied to your overarching brand. In keeping with the travel example, Virtuoso is a brand that keeps their name tied to each publication, and their branding as well, even though their publications span nations and topics.
To add a note of warning, be careful that you are severely aware of your segmentation: while your brand name can shine through, you will want to make sure you deliver the right audiences the content they find relevant. There are the obvious examples of this – like making sure the right publication is delivered to the subscriber – but then there are the nuances, like making sure that if you’re using social media groups outside a 1st party relationship with your brand, that you’re sending them appropriate messaging. To go back to the general travel magazine example, if you have a publication for California, Nevada and Hawaii, and you reach out to a social media group formed to discuss the best beaches in America, don’t try to drive them to your Nevada magazine.
On the flip side, you can also set up separate campaigns for your various publications. This allows your readers to connect fully with the magazine brand’s tone and specific content offerings. Plus, if you’re hoping to use search as a strong driver of new readers, and your publication’s name is a known search term, that could boost your “findability” with search engines. Welding Productivity, published by TechGen Media Group, is a good example of this. While readers might be searching for more information on welding, they won’t likely type “TechGen Media” as their first search term. TechGen Media has a number of publications related to fabrication and the manufacturing industry, but they choose to create separate channels for each magazine.
The downside to this style is that there’s a risk readers won’t discover TechGen Media Group’s other publications, which cover related topics. TechGen meets this challenge by cross-promoting his publications within the digital editions.
Each publisher’s strategy is going to look a little different according to their brand personality, their goals, and their available resources. While this blog can get you started, it’s important to consider things like content schedule, platform differences, and metrics. (For examples on how to approach platforms, read Principles of Multi-Platform Publishing.) You should also look for a partner whose feet are already wet. The competition for attention is fierce, and brand fragmentation could cause a reader to lose faith in your brand and opt for another source for content. Consider partnering with a firm like Nxtbook Media to help create a strategy that fits your brand purpose and resources, and that will help your brand forge a lasting connection with your audience.
*More survey results to be revealed in the next issue of Folio: magazine.