Magazines have been rushing toward the web in search of the golden ticket, a way of making money off the unlimited potential of the Internet.
While print publications have been fruitless in their efforts to cash in online, providing free content for online users, social media has served a substantial purpose in increasing readership and uncovering some of the advantages locked in the web.
Sports Illustrated Makes the Plunge with the Swimsuit Issue
Sports Illustrated (SI) is leading the way with a solution to the online content problem—they’re finally charging for it. It’s surprising that it took so long for this to happen. The magazine is now selling digital magazine subscriptions on the web and for the Samsung Galaxy and Android smart phones.
Readers can now choose to get both the magazine and digital versions for $4.99 a month, or digital only for $3.99 a month. iPhone and iPad users can download single issues of Sports Illustrated for $4.99.
According to Mashable.com, the digital publications include bonus features. For February’s Swimsuit issue there will be extra photos and videos across the different devices.
Magazines Tweeting to Compete
Thus far, print publications have utilized social media to draw new readers in and stay relevant on the web. Today all publications have the ability (and many subscribers would say the obligation) to spread fresh content throughout the day in a plethora of formats. The people like choices today and plenty of them.
While newspapers have become accustomed to going head to head with online news sites, magazines have not felt the same pressure of real-time updating until recently. SELF Magazine has now begun tweeting about New York’s Fashion Week to provide readers with a look inside this A-list event.
Magazines can also use instant news sharing to connect to their users during events. Rolling Stone had a live blog going during the Grammy’s which allowed readers to share their thoughts and take polls throughout the show. When The Suburbs by Arcade Fire won Album of the Year, they linked to a Rolling Stone article on the band.
In addition to using Twitter to promote their own articles and experiences, magazines have also shared the content of other relevant sources. It’s important to have the most up-to-date information and stories, but also to give back to your readership and acknowledge other professionals. Perez Hilton is constantly responding to readers and sharing their thoughts on his page. Even the number one most followed magazine on Twitter (People Magazine) promotes interesting stories. Just the other day, People posted a link to a Time Magazine article on the 100 all-time greatest toys. Coincidentally, Time is the second most followed print publication.
More web power comes with the ability to incorporate images, videos and other visual elements into articles. Sports Illustrated is tapping into this by adding extras to their swimsuit issue.
We think SI is on the right track with the incentive of added features to encourage online subscriptions, but only time will tell if this is the key to monetizing the digital magazine realm.