In this day and age the only thing that remains constant is change. In order to remain relevant and current, businesses must be willing to adapt to change. Magazines are not an exception to this rule. As the world continues to become more and more reliant on the internet, magazines are finding that they have to adjust to the internet trend and can no longer rely solely on their printed product as a means of retaining consumers. Interactive website features as well as social media integration are important to continuously engage supporters. This is something that magazines targeting Americans have learned and implemented and now magazines targeting audiences abroad are following suite.
“According to a research report conducted in 2010 by the Internet and Mobile Association of India and market research firm IMRB, the total number of internet users in India is 71 million. Also, the amount of time that people spend online has increased from 9 hours to almost 16 hours a week.” Magazines such as Forbes India, Vogue India, GQ India, and Outlook India have heeded the warning and begun interacting with consumers/readers on their websites as well as in the social networking space. An article, on Indian Social, highlights how the aforementioned magazines are successfully keeping up with the online trend. The author states that magazines should be aware of the following concepts:
◦ Real Time Information: Readers don’t have to wait monthly, weekly or daily for new information. (i.e. website features, Twitter, Facebook)
◦ Open Exchange of Ideas/Opinions: Create a platform for discussions (i.e. Facebook discussions, engaging and interacting with “fans”)
◦ Monetizing Social Media: Utilizing social networking in a way to create a profit for the magazine. (i.e. Advertisements, Mobile Apps, cross marketing with other brands through each other’s social networks)
◦ Expanding Content: Additional and supplemental content different from what is in the magazine. (i.e. Polls, games, event coverage, etc.)
I agree with the article and believe that it is important that these four areas are highlighted and implemented within a magazine’s website and social networking integration. Contrary to the author of the article, I’ve decided to focus on only one magazine, Forbes India, and critique its use of the criteria above.
Real Time Information: Forbes India understands the importance of adapting and created a website (www.business.in.com) that serves as more than just a storage place for old articles, but a home for new features/stories (“web only specials”), live budget updates, blog and Twitter feeds, podcasts and exclusive content for business schools.
Open Exchange of Opinions/Ideas: Forbes India’s Facebook page provides links to new articles on their site as well as any updates, campaigns, and special events. Readers/fans can leave their opinion or comment on their wall. In my research, I only saw a few incidences where Forbes India actually replied to a comment. Forbes India should consider more frequent engagement with their fans/readers as this engagement creates a sense of community and belonging amongst supporters. In addition, the content that Forbes India is introducing on their Facebook page is not interactive, and mostly just links of articles, which could be a reason why they only have 11,491 “likes”. However on Twitter, Forbes India does a better job of interacting with its 14,851 followers, through replies and retweets. Forbes India also developed a creative program to increase followers on Twitter. “Twinterviews” is a platform of live chats with business leaders (Rajiv Bajaj and Mehmood Khan) that take place on twitter and then the interviews are featured on the website.
Monetizing Social Media: Forbes India’s website does not have any outside advertising banners. I also tried to research and see if a Forbes India specific mobile app. existed and had no such luck discovering one. This leaves me to believe that this is an untapped sector. Contributing more efforts to developing this into a revenue generating effort could result great profits. Especially since over 2 million people in India access the Internet through their mobile device.
Expanding Content: In addition to its regular content, Forbes India’s website has a separate space entitled “Web Exclusive”. This area on their website houses magazine extras, and exclusive downloads; information you can only get on their website. There also is a tab entitled “Conversation” which houses the various blogs and podcasts available on their site. The Daily Sabbatical has its own space on the website and this is where business students/schools can go for relevant information. Forbes India does a nice job of creating web-exclusive information to entice readers and supporters to begin and continue online engagement.
In an article Forbes India published, “Long Live Socia(media)ism!”, discussing their online endeavors they mention how they don’t have a special staff to oversee their social networking:
“There are no special staff to do this, mainly because we believe in a lean, multi-tasking organisation (and — woo-hoo! — we get to do this on office time!), but also partly because we think most social media ‘experts’ are scamsters.”
Forbes India should hold off on down playing the skills social media experts could bring to the table as they are only inhabiters in the social networking space, their followers/fan numbers alone show that they still have a large amount of work to do. Forbes (USA) has 136,615 likes/fans on Facebook and 384,537 followers on Twitter. At the rate that technology is altering, who’s to say how long print magazines will still exists? What if Forbes India only existed online? Are they prepared? I’d hope they would look into consulting with some “scammers” to enlighten them on how to optimize their online platforms in order to gain more consumers, readers and supporters as well as stay ahead of the competition. If the consultation advice yields positive results, then did you really get scammed?!