34 take-aways from Folio: Show 2011

November 11, 2011

Creative Director Jen Smith and Art Director Heather Winkel occupied Times Square for three days of magazine immersion at Folio: Show 2011. Didn’t get to join them? Don’t worry, here they share with you the top take-aways from the event.

On Circ/Subscriptions

Don’t snub pass-along circulation. Your readers know who will like your magazine more than a list broker will.

If you have a higher subscription cost, the onus is on you to make a higher quality product.

Let your readers help promote subscriptions. They read your pub, so they can recommend it.

On Content

If you want to get out of the realm of free content, make something worth paying for.

Your goal is to be aggregated, not be the aggregator.

What’s your content’s “arc of consumption”? Know when and where your readers are accessing your content. Mobile during the morning commute? Browser during lunch? Tablet in the evening?

Invest in editorial optimized for search online. Searchable archives create long-term value since readers fishing the Internet will find your content (if it’s properly optimized) time and time again.

Place value on your content, but remember to create content worth paying for.

engagement = content + technology

On the Tablet

Nobody knows what a perfect digital magazine is yet, says Mike Haney from Mag+. We’re all experimenting. That goes for content, design, strategy and sales.

Most tablets never leave the house. If you want readers to access your content on their tablets, make it a worthwhile read during their leisure time.

Most consumers are still using a mobile browser to consume media content. Go ahead and make your app, but don’t forget how important your mobile site is as well.

Got an iPad magazine? Think of Apple as your subscription service. The more you make your content work with the device (read: interactivity), the more promotion you’ll receive.

Price tablet advertising the same as print. It is just as valuable if not more. Your tablet content could be more valuable than print because of the engagement level of interactivity. In other words, don’t make the same mistakes we did when web sites were invented.

Whether your app is issue-based or a constant feed, use push notifications wisely. Constant text messages will turn readers off but an alert now and again will help them remember you.

How much more work is there to be done? 1 page in print equals 2.5 pages on an iPad, which equals 4 pages on a Nook.

Don’t sacrifice creativity for delivery download times. Download times are becoming a non-issue.

On technology

Peter Moore, editor of Men’s Health says: Follow the trends but don’t commit to just one. There will always be new shiny things. Do what’s right for your reader. Also: “I want to be startled by ideas, not technology.” Words to remember.

Analytics aren’t about numbers, they’re about actionable insights. Insights that aren’t communicated are useless. It’s about sharing the story around the data.

Understand your market, don’t get in front of it.

Even if you’re not working on apps yet, pay attention to your website on mobile devices and tablets.

Developing the right technology means giving a premium experience every single time.

Just because you have all the tools doesn’t mean you have to use them all!

Remember, it’s technology. Be practical and keep it simple if you need to.

On social media

When promoting social media, give readers a taste of content. Don’t just say, “Follow us on Twitter!” Give an example of an interesting tweet for reference.

Create followup content from your magazine to use as exclusive content on your blog or social media.

On Infrastructure

If your content is across several platforms, consider the staff collaboration and oversight. Time, Inc. created a General Manager role that fosters collaborating across all platforms.

Overcome reactionary work flow (ie responding to emails when they pop in your inbox) by creating windows of non-stimulation. Make a separate to-do list for long-term ideas and use those windows accordingly.

Organization is a competitive advantage so spend energy on staying organized.

Measure the value of meetings in action steps. Meetings should be actionable. If they’re not, maybe it should have been an email, not a meeting.

Emails with three sentences have a 60% higher reaction rate. Try communicating actions in your subject line: FYI, ACTION.

On Leadership

Scott Belsky says “leaders talk last.” Let your team mates voice their thoughts, opinions. By consistently offering yours first, you are not allowing them a voice.

As an organization, learn to tolerate failure. It will foster innovation.

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