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September 14, 2012

MPA Study Concludes Social Media Use Enriches Magazine Experience, Shows Room for Growth

Marie Claire magazine September 2012 issuePrint or digital? A new study suggests we may not have to choose, as social media can add value to print magazines. But are they doing enough to keep up with readers?   

The Internet was supposed to be the end of magazines. Didn’t happen. But it slowly but surely changed the way we consumed our news, got our beauty tips and stayed updated on celebrity gossip.

Then social media came along and changed it even more. No longer do we have to search the ‘net for the magazines we love or the topics we want to read. Through a myriad of up-to-the-minute feeds, we can follow tweets, subscribe to status updates, pin things to boards and stumble our interests.

But according to a recent study released by the MPA, the Association of Magazine Media, social media may be doing more to boost magazine engagement than it does to hurt it, particularly among Milennials, readers aged 18-34.

You might think you could thank a new generation of e-readers and digital issues for that. But of the 40 percent of the more than 1,000 study participants who identified themselves as “avid magazine readers,” 95 percent still prefer print. Less than half of that number—43 percent—opt for the digital versions.

Among general social media preferences, Facebook leads all others for study participants. Ninety percent of all respondents and about 90 percent of the avid magazine reader group use the site. That’s followed by YouTube (61 percent), Twitter (40 percent) and Google+ (33 percent).

In terms of magazine engagement, Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook lead the charge. Fifty-six percent of respondents follow a title on Twitter. About the same number follow and re-pin magazine content on Pinterest. And 52 percent keep up with a magazine in their news feed.

Those numbers indicate there’s a lot of room for growth in terms of magazine engagement on social media. According to the study, already-engaged magazine Facebookers and tweeters are looking for exclusive deals and opportunities to interact with their favorite titles to enhance their subscriptions.

But Bonnie Miller, a former magazine editor-in-chief who launched HollywoodLife.com, wonders if women’s magazines aren’t missing out on reader interactions more fundamentally. In an article on AdAge.com, she says Millennials are looking for up-to-the-minute news and insights, particularly on magazine websites—content that would ultimately make it to social media anyway.

Miller used the example of Time’s controversial breastfeeding cover. She cited numerous online sites and blogs who jumped into the conversation, while women’s magazines were silent on the issue. That has more to do with how magazines approach digital content as an adaptation of print content, rather than the more up-to-date and fresh content of a blog.

How many ways do you keep up with your favorite magazines? What content do you hope to get on their social media sites?



About the Author

Michelle Ryan
Michelle Ryan
Michelle Ryan is obsessed with good food, great shoes and Alabama football way down South in Savannah, Georgia. She hasn’t met a kitchen gadget she hasn’t at least thought about buying (trying them is another story) and devotes her time to Bikram Yoga, baking and trying to overcome long-held finicky eating habits.