There is much talk this week of a print comeback. After years of Magazine’s decline both in ad pages and title count, this year a turnaround seems afoot with a handful of major September issues (Elle, Marie Claire, InStyle, People Style Watch) all set to weigh in at their heaviest on record. While this news is heartening, there is no question that the future of magazine content will still be primarily digital. And that doesn’t just mean putting print articles online or maintaining a well-kept blog. In our Digital IQ Index: Magazines report, released Tuesday, one of the areas our researchers focused on was magazines’ ability to extend their brand reach through Twitter.
Of the 80 magazine brands included in our second-annual report, the average Twitter account boasted 450,000 followers, an increase of 69 percent over last year. While impressive, this figure only measures one dimension of Twitter reach: the magazine’s central account. But a magazine in today’s social media world is much more than just a name, it’s a name shaped by all the names on its masthead. Editors, writers, photographers, even assistants and interns–it’s these authentic personalities, revealed daily on a platform like Twitter, that become indistinguishable from the brand itself. For example, there is The Atlantic, and then there is Alexis Madrigal. There is Lucky Magazine, and then there is John Jannuzzi. There is The Economist, and then there is Tom Standage (yes, we can thank Twitter for “outing” the names behind the news weekly’s phantom bylines). If you follow these journalists on Twitter, there is no way their daily observations haven’t influenced your opinion or shaped your understanding of what their respective publications stand for. And that complement has worked to magazines’ great benefit, which is why almost two-thirds actively promote contributors from the main account.
Also important to highlight are brands’ “secondary” accounts, which allow users to subscribe to a magazine’s more specialized updates, be they tied to a particular blog (New York Magazine’s “Vulture“) or an offshoot feed tailored to a topic (GQ’s “Politics“). Of those included in the study, more than half (54 percent) maintained active secondary accounts. Contributor and secondary accounts attract on average 29,000 and 37,000 followers, respectively. Though far fewer than most brands’ main account, these feeds in aggregate amplify a magazine’s influence exponentially.