Oprah has this page at the back of her magazine that’s titled: “What I Know For Sure”. It’s filled with wise Oprah words, helping you along to the ultimate Aha! Moment. There’s one thing I know for sure about digital – hardly anything is “for sure”. You have to try things, push the best content out there and hope for the best.
A few home truths first: Teenage girls are fickle. They’re discerning. They’re vocal. They’re trying to build an identity for themselves. They love boys.
In the past 12 months we’ve had our biggest digital wins on the mobile front. There are no big surprises here considering the size and activity of the mobile universe and that 77 percent of seventeen readers (approximately 1,000) polled in mid- 2008 said they simply cannot live without their phones (this is defnitely an underestimate). We launched a MXit contact for seventeen and after six months we had 100,000 subscribers. That’s only 3 percent of the approximately 3-million teenage girl subscribers on the platform, but it’s nearly three times the number of girls who buy our magazine (seventeen’s total paid circulation is 34,563, ABC, April – June 2008; total circulation: 35,157). Subscribers have downloaded over 700,000 pieces of content in those six months and here again we focused on the things we did know (yes, there are some) – the boy advice feature (“Love Doctor”) is a hit and so are all the cute wallpapers with skulls and hearts and anything that’s even vaguely inspired by Miley Cyrus.
Seventeen.co.za re-launched in August 2008 and in the few months thereafter we could see a solid pattern of favourites emerging: the win section is the top scorer (only after the home page) – everyone loves a freebee. Then, quizzes (remember girls want to know who they really are): we focused on themes like, “What kind of roommate would you make?”; “Does your guy flirt too much with other girls?”. The focus on boys is always large. Our annual hotties campaign is shameless in its intention: hot boys and voting for them. The way it works: girls submit pictures of their hottest hottie/ friend/ boyfriend – we load the pictures on the site and users get to vote. Voting is very popular amongst the girls and we found boys voting for themselves too (the prizes were cellphones and airtime).
Girls want to be famous. They love reading seventeen, but they love being in the magazine more. We ran a successful coverlook competition with Maybelline in August 2008, where all competition entries were submitted online and all voting happened on the site. It does great things for traffic and the hype builds beautifully. This campaign was driven by mobile shout-outs – we sent text messages to the seventeen mobile base – and we could track the spike in traffic on the site almost immediately afterwards.
Going forward, our focus will definitely be more on mobile projects coupled with efforts to keep building our website traffic – especially with the promise of better bandwidth in 2009.
Natalie Dixon is digital publisher at 8 Ink Media. Her work spans across mobile and web projects for all titles in the stable.
The broader aim of our digital projects/products is to build an engaged audience first and then monetise this in a clever and creative way. This sounds like the holy grail and it does mean lots of experimenting, but we’re lucky that teenage girls are particularly active new-media consumers. The magazine and digital operate completely in tandem and we find some of the best successes with digital campaigns is when there is a big push in book. We’re not living in false hope that digital activity will miraculously increase sales on shelf for the mag – all we’re doing is recognising the shifting landscape of media consumption amongst our readership. We need to be active in the arena as a new breed of media product.
- This article first appeared in The Media magazine (February 2009)