Twitter remains one of the great ironies of the digital era—a cultural fixture, a political force and an addiction for key influencers. What more could a media platform want than to be the daily trumpet of the leader of the free world? And yet, it struggles to expand its base and ad business. In its last quarterly report, Twitter showed meager growth with four million new users after an early year bump of nine million. And its ad revenue declined.
This all speaks to the behavior Twitter requires of its users. While there have been some interesting innovations here (like the Moments feed along with embedded and live video), it remains a messy media environment that isn’t universally appealing like Facebook or even Instagram.
But it’s still notable that Twitter is not just for the president or journalists looking to build their own brand. Our social analytics in September see a range of non-newsy magazine brands with astonishing engagement growth. Family Circle led with blistering spike in engagement (+5,2805%), but with only a 16.18% growth in followers.
While it starts from a modest base, Meredith’s Family Circle has been adding hundreds of Twitter followers. Interestingly, some of its most popular tweets are headline images like its #WednesdayWisdom from September, “My Kid Is Turning Out To Be Exactly Like Me. Well Played, Karma. Well Played.” Social media editor Sugey Palomeras tells Folio: that FC has been testing the approach on a weekly basis to increase engagement. But the Latina sites as a group lifted their Twitter profile as the country engaged the DACA (Deferred Action for Children Arrivals) issue, the Mexico earthquake and, of course, Hurricanes Irma and Maria. People en Espanol (1.4 million Twitter followers) saw 1,320% engagement growth from special DACA coverage and a hashtag campaign. A cover story “We Are All Dreamers” dropped with what People en Espanol tells us was the first non-celebrity cover in its 20 years of publishing.
The issue was supported by a #TodosSomosDreamers tag that attracted personal stories from Dreamers and celebrity participation from John Leguizamo, Karla Souza, Dascha Polanca, among others.
For the earthquake and hurricanes, the brand was posting at a feverish pace. But it was People en Espanol’s compilation of the most chilling video clips from Mexico City’s earth- quake that proved the top post for the month.
Meredith’s Siempre Mujer only has 13,278 followers but one of its goals for the year has been to increase that (up 10% in September) and engagement (up 6,013%). “This is a popular source of information for U.S.-based, bilingual Millennials, a group we are focusing our efforts on,” says general manager Beatriz Cuartero. “Covering live events such as the Emmy Awards, Premios tu Mundo or TV Shows premieres, is helping us to increase the engagement with our followers.”
Despite all this, Instagram is where the magazine is seeing meteoric growth, from 6,501 followers in 2015 to over 83,000 today, where it gets monitored and passed along by a number of celebrities. SM takes a unique approach to the Instagram channel. “[It] is currently being used to document our lives as editors at Siempre Mujer,” says Cuartero. “We try to make this platform more informal & fun and update it daily. We also share photos of products that we like and accessories that the editors like.” They are also finding success here by porting the morning inspirational quote from Facebook and using Stories for content that is exclusive to that sub-channel.
Twitter has also proven a ripe platform for enthusiasts, Bonnier is finding. Its Boating brand saw a striking 2,192% increase in engagement while Dirt Riderenjoyed a 515% increase. For the latter, coverage of Bonnier’s own Endurocross Moto event drove growth. The company bought the event last year and the company says social has exploded since.
At Boating, the spike came from its exclusive boat reviews during the month. Editorial director Kevin Falvey says, “Each boat was a brand-new model, and we were the first to board and run them. The immediacy of Twitter is great for providing our audience with the news before those not following us get it. We were rewarded for empowering the audience.”
Across the board, Bonnier’s social media footprint has been expanding as a result of structural changes in its editorial approach to platforms. VP of Moto Group Andrew Leisner tells us, “”In 2017 we restructured our content production from a brand-based strategy to one where content is produced across our 13 brands by centralized channel-specific teams. This included a social-specific team that specialized in and strategically executed social media programs for all of our brands. All brands saw a lift in social engagement and resulting web traffic, with Dirt Rider seeing the most year-over-year increases.”
And of course, at Playboy, part of the 477% engagement increase came from the magazine’s saddest post, Hef’s passing on September 27, which attracted over 191,000 retweets and 4,700 comments that, like all things Playboy, sparked heated debates about the value of it and Hef’s legacy.