Print + social media = #winner

Earlier in the year, Newsworks presented the results of its joint study with Twitter, #NewsOnTheTweet, underlining the symbiotic relationship between news brands and Twitter.

The research showed that 59% of the United Kingdom’s Twitter users follow a newspaper brand and that they are more active users of the platform – being 109% more likely than non-newsbrand followers to tweet daily. 

Considering this — and taking into account recent work by Guardian News and Media and Keller Fay Group, showing that newspaper readers are more likely to talk about brands than non-readers and concluding that “newspaper campaigns should be designed to stimulate sharing” whether that be “offline, online, in-home, at work, in the pub” — the compatibility of print ads and social media as an advertising formula seems rather good. 

I am not about to suggest that this strategy is a particularly new one, but perusing the newspapers each morning I have noticed a ramping up of activity beyond the standard placing of a relevant hashtag on a newspaper ad. Increasingly, print ads seem to draw on a brand’s social media presence, encouraging readers to interact with it and create shares, likes, and retweets among friends/followers.

For example, Lidl, a regular advertiser in newspapers, is currently running a #LidlSurprises campaign in many titles, which puts the views of its customers, as conveyed on social media, to the fore.

In Lidl’s own words, published in newspapers as a precursor to the campaign (including as a cover wrap of the Evening Standard), it said: “After today, our advertising will feature the authentic and unvarnished views of our customers, as expressed by them on Twitter, Facebook and other online forums. Please feel free to join in … Over to you!”

Posts are published both within the main body of newspapers as well as in their supplements, often alongside relevant “foodie” editorial. A clever use of social media to both create a campaign that exudes a trusted word-of-mouth vibe and encourages informal, friendly engagement between Lidl and shoppers.

Similarly, with Great British Bake Off fever at its annual high in September, Billington’s sugar began a campaign, featured in both newspapers and supplements, encouraging users to photograph and tweet their #Bakeface (what your face looks like immediately after biting into a delicious cake).

The weekly winner, who is voted for by visitors to the Billington’s Web site, receives a KMix stand mixer, while the top 100 get either an apron, mug, or recipe folder bearing their Bake Face.

The campaign is a great example of how print and social media can collaborate to spark interest among consumers and then organically gain momentum as tweets and retweets roll in.

Of course, it’s not just Twitter that is utilised in this way. At last year’s Newsworks Planning Awards, the winner of both “best use of content” and the “chair’s award” was a partnership between News UK and Virgin Holidays, encouraging readers to “show us your #holidaymojo” via pictures shared on Instagram.

The activity, which ran across The Times’ multiple platforms between May 5, 2013, and November 23, 2013, and included 24 single and double pages of print content. Each month the best holiday pictures were reproduced in the newspaper, with contributors having the chance to win luxury trips. In total, 2,916 photos were shared via Instagram, massively outperforming the initial benchmark of 700.

While this was a multi-platform campaign, it demonstrates how user-generated content sourced from social media can translate onto the printed page and underlines that print continues to be an important part of the cross-platform mix.

It’s not just advertisers in print who are using the medium to interact with social media. News brands themselves are making sure that their print products aren’t left out of the loop when it comes to Twitter, Facebook, and the like.

Back in March, The Sun became the first UK newspaper brand to start printing dedicated hashtags accompanying articles, while the Mirror’s “#MadeUThink” campaign (check out the manifesto explained in cat GIFs) has a strong presence in the newspaper; most memorably the hybrid image of Marilyn Monroe and Albert Einstein, which was both printed in the Daily Mirror and uploaded to YouTube to advertise the newspapers “intelligent tabloid” brand identity.

All of the above examples suggest that many newspapers and brands believe that creating a strong alliance between print and social media is a winning formula.

While my work inclines me to see this alliance from the point of view of newspapers, it should be noted that it’s far from a one-sided relationship.

As the #NewsOnTheTweet research shows, Twitter and newsbrands are mutually beneficial to one another, while Facebook’s page-flicking, full-page image displaying Paper app is a great example of a social platform taking inspiration from newspapers.

About Jessie Sampson

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