Social Media Helps Publishers Reach Millennials, Gen Z

Whatever their potential pitfalls in terms of ownership of content, social media platforms are an extremely effective way for publishers to reach younger demos, according to an expert panel speaking on the second day of MediaPost’s Publishing Insider Summit in Asheville, NC. That’s especially important for legacy publishers seeking to introduce their brands to new readers as part of their broader digital reinvention.

Eric Schwab, executive vice president of sales and marketing at The Enthusiast Network, publisher of Motor Trend among around 60 other titles, noted that out of a total digital audience of 150 million, roughly 100 million come from social media, adding that the flagship magazine “has an average age of 57-58 [in print], digital is in the 30s, and socially throughout our audience we’re [reaching an average age of] 27.”

Schwab continued: “A big thing for us is this is a totally untapped audience that we haven’t been able to harness with these legacy automotive and enthusiast brands in our publishing suite.” At the same time TEN is also building its millennial audience with new brands that began online, most notably Roadkill, a YouTube series promoted via Facebook that proved so successful it is now a print magazine.



Similarly, Playboy senior vice president for digital Robin Zucker, speaking in a separate presentation, noted the publication’s success in reaching a younger audience on Facebook, where around 70% of its followers are millennials. Playboy’s branded content efforts on behalf of marketers included a program for Redbull, following a stunt-filled tour of the iconic mansion by trial bike rider Danny MacAskill, accompanied by some of Playboy’s (clothed) beauties.

Maya Tanaka, a creative producer at the Mashable Collective, noted that Snapchat’s profile skews even younger: “Snapchat is by far the outlier, the audience is so different.  It’s a lot of Gen Z-ers which is the ‘new millennial.’” Publishers and advertisers hoping to reach these younger users need to partner with platforms like Snapchat, which will allow them to join the conversation in an organic way: “We have to go where they’re talking to each other.”

However Tanaka was quick to note that traditional ad approaches won’t work on these platforms: “This is a generation that has grown up with digital and is used to ignoring ads,” so high-quality, custom-created branded content is the way to go for brands which can produce it.

It’s also important to remember that social media age groups aren’t set in stone. On that note, Facebook audiences for some publishing brands are growing up with the platform, according to Jennifer Anderson, vice-president for audience development at enthusiast publisher Bonnier, who gave one example: “For our motorcycle group, we have definitely seen historically that audience skews younger -- males 18-24 -- and we’re watching it age [on Facebook].” 

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