How to Post Each Issue Online & Engage Your Audiencein Community Content Engine
You're a print publisher and your publication just went to print, now what should you do? This is the position a lot of local publishers find themselves in. You know you need to post content online and that you should probably schedule some sort of email newsletter and Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest is beckoning you to post something. So where do you start?
If you’re in this position then digital is clearly an afterthought and you've already left some real opportunity to engage the community on the table. Follow this plan to when deciding what to post online in order to engage your audience, work smarter and grow your revenue.
Identify Opportunities & Plan Ahead
Review you print lineup and identify extra content that got cut from print and could be used online such as extra photos, recipes or unused sidebars (the "cutting" room floor). Additionally, you should evaluate each story for opportunities to expand them online via contests, Q&A with a local expert, videos, a list of upcoming events, etc. Just like in print, you should begin planning these online extras at the same time as you print lineup and they should be included in your editorial calendar. This way you can ask writers, photographers and even business owners to provide extra content as your having the original conversations about each article.
Implement the Print-to-Web Strategy
It's not enough to just post content online, you have to let people know about it. Each issue should incorporate thoughtful calls to action (CTA) in print to encourage your print readers to go online for related digital content and to continue their experience. We call this the Print-to-Web approach because the simple act of including thoughtful (prominent and visual) CTAs can extend your readers experience beyond the page and get them interacting with your brand in a positive way. Think about it this way, if they want to know more when they've finished reading an article and you don't offer them a way to do so then you will lose them to the Googleverse. A lost opportunity...
You should also include a page in every issues that highlights your website, email newsletter and other social profiles. We call this the business basics page.When growing your audience why not start with your current readers?
Follow the In-This-Issue Approach
Once you've completed your print edition (with your CTA's and business basics page) and shipped it off to the printer, it's time to post your content online. How you go about doing this will have a significant impact on traffic and engagement. The common inclination is to simply post a digital edition (aka a flip book) and call it a day but there are several reasons why this alone is a bad idea.
First, most digital editions aren't searchable by Google so not posting each article as an individual article will have a significant impact your traffic over time.
Second, many digital editions are hosted on a 3rd parties website which again will affect your search rankings. Third, it makes it difficult to thoughtfully incorporate your online only content.
Our suggested way of posting content is called the In-This-Issue (ITI) Approach and it goes as follows:
- Post your print content online as actual articles. The extra couple hours of work it will take to post each article as text will yield tremendous long term benefits. If that seems daunting, try starting with only your featured articles and then adding other articles as you get comfortable posting content online.
- Post any online only content you identified above. In the case of the "cutting" room floor type of content, it may make sense to simply include it along with the original article or if there is enough to justify a separate article you can post it as such and link out to it from the end of the print article.
- Create a new article that introduces the issue (kind of like a publisher letter) and link out to all related content from steps 1 and 2. This is the ITI post. It's also a great place to embed your digital edition if you are so inclined.
- Add the ITI article to your home page and place a sidebar graphic prominently in the sidebar to drive traffic and attention.
- Update your archives page to include the new ITI post.
- Each issue should have it's own hub, the ITI approach consolidates content and grows engagement.
Engage the Community
Now that you've posted all your content online, it's time to promote it! Start by crafting an email to your loyal readers/email subscribers. The email should highlight the print and digital content from the issue (hint: reuse the copy from the ITI post by copying and pasting it into the email. It may require some basic formatting but it will save you from having to retype everything) and should link back to your ITI post.
Including your top stories in the subject line is also a great way to increase your open rate. It's also a great opportunity to remind business owners and event hosts to post events and claim their business on your website (assuming you offer such services). Remember, many of your readers are also business owners which is a dynamic that is unique to local publishers.
You should also make sure to share the ITI post to Facebook, Twitter and any other social profile you use regularly. You can also share individual articles, events, and business profiles over the next several weeks giving you a way to continually drive traffic to your site between issues. Make sure to let any individuals or businesses know if they were referenced in print as well and encourage them to share it with their customers/audience.
For more audience development tactics, check out our recorded webinar on audience development for local publishers.
Download the Print Publisher Checklist
This checklist will prepare you to post your next issue online and help ensure every issue makes an impact.