August 17, 2011

Two Cases of Successful Use of Social Media to Increase Audience

By Stephen Laliberte

Over the last couple of years we have seen customers implementing Facebook pages and LinkedIn Groups that are delivering measurable audience development benefits in terms of e-newsletters registrations and subscription sales.


Whole Dog Journal

Whole Dog Journal is a “Consumer Reports” for dog enthusiasts. The core of the brand is a monthly paid publication. Their website has a free side and a paid side, and the conversion architecture begins with registering unknown readers for a free “Tip of the Week” editorial e-newsletter, after which they can be monetized through subscription, e-book, and book sales. In the spring of 2009, Whole Dog created a Facebook page and in two years grew a following of over 26,000 Facebook members. The journal’s facebook page includes:

  • Info, a page introducing the publication.
  • Wall, on which editors can post messages and on which readers can comment. This content includes news and opinion, but not the in-depth content available to paid subscribers.
  • A reader who “likes” the page receives email alerts that bring followers to the page when new content is posted. The editorial staff has committed to posting to the wall once each week.
  • Photos, Notes, Videos and Events aremedia channels.
  • Subscribe is a customized page promoting subscriptions to the website and publication.


Page views originating from Facebook now account for 1% of the journal’s web traffic and the Facebook subscribe page has resulted in a significant number of subscriptions.


American Banker

American Banker is now featuring social sharing widgets on its home page and on article detail pages. The design also incorporates a Twitter feed on the home page, and the publishers are seeing a significant level of participation on Twitter and LinkedIn.



Measuring the Impact of Social Networks

One of the challenges of social media is measuring results. One measure is web analytics, which lets you see if your site is getting page views referred from the social networks, but page views don’t necessarily translate to readership. To determine whether a publisher’s conversion architecture is converting social media viewers to readers, iProduction has updated automatic source code tracking to include the popular social sites. When a reader accesses your site, iProduction assigns tracking cookies to identify the source that sent the reader to the site. Many of our publishers use these codes to track pay-per-click advertising used to build circulation. When a reader comes to the site from a link that does not include tracking codes, IProduction automatically sets these codes. In a recent release, these codes have been updated to include social networks, and new codes can be added easily.

The social sharing icons have been featured in the article detail page and limited to the big three.

The design also incorporates a Twitter feed on the home page.


Codes follow the reader throughout your site. If the reader registers, completes a lead generation or a sale, the codes are recorded. Codes from new audience members are stored as unchanging “originating” codes and appear in sales reports tracking the lifetime value of a reader. Codes are also linked to sale or lead generation activity indicating the impact of social media on sales and lead generation activity.