Category Archives: Who Does It Better?

Magazines and Social Media: Runner’s World

For this week’s post, I’m looking at how a consumer magazine is using social media: what platforms are being utilized, what information is being provided, and how successful and social the magazine is in relaying its messages and interacting with its publics. I’ve chosen to focus on Runner’s World.

Runner’s World (RW) has many platforms. It’s on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr and has forums and multiple blogs. Beginning with the first three, there is very little dialogic communication that occurs. Tumblr just posts pictures of their magazine covers, beautiful running-related pictures, or pictures with running-related mottos and quotes. While this is fun to look at occasionally, there’s not much going on there.

Facebook and Twitter pretty much post the same information: links to articles, blog posts by fellow RW employees, quotes, tips, and basically everything you’d expect from a running magazine. RW occasionally asks questions, like what was your favorite sign you’ve seen during a race, to engage its public. There are many fans that comment, “like” Facebook posts, and retweet amazing, motivational stories provided by RW, but RW doesn’t reply. Rather, it just spills out information and the public responds. I find the employment of these social media platforms okay and mediocre. The stories provided are interesting and inspirational, but RW could use more two-way communication to pump runners up. However, RW does make up for the lack of dialogic communication in different ways.

Though RW’s twitter is only informational, it does direct you to employee twitters or another division of RW. For instance, RW directs you to RW columnist Alex Hutchinson, who provides information on the science of running and will reply to any questions. He also has his own blog on the RW website. RW also has the twitter account @RWHalf, where people can talk about the Runner’s World half marathon in Pennsylvania. So while the general RW social media platforms are mainly informative, you can find twitter accounts that are catered to certain areas like health and training, which are more dialogic.

In addition, RW does blogs really well. Instead of having one blog, it actually has a specialization of blogs. There is a blog for beginners, trail running, nutrition, blogs where you can asks questions, and so forth. You can find them here. These are helpful as you can narrow down which blog you actually want to read about. Some of these bloggers have twitter accounts as well, so you can go and talk to them directly. Aside from blogs, there are also forums on the RW website, which have different categories. There, fellow runners help each other out and share stories.

Being the biggest and leading running magazine company, I think RW does a good job. It’s not excellent, but if you’re a running fanatic, you’re probably following their social media to be hyped up and motivated by reading such articles like this and reading tips. If they want to really chat with other runners, RW does direct them to the right people. It just takes a little more work to find, but it’s not that difficult.

The only other running magazine I can compare RW to is Running Times, which has a Facebook,  Twitter, and a few employee blogs. Running Times utilizes Facebook and Twitter the same way, however they have less activeness by fans. While Running Times has about 27 likes on a Facebook post, RW will have likes in the thousands. Though this may have to do with Running Times being a much smaller magazine. The blogs on Running Times aren’t specific either like how RW has a blog for such topics as tips, nutrition, and trail running. Running Time blogs are more general.

Twitter Observation: Politician vs. Entertainer

For any readers outside of my class, this week’s PR assignment was to follow the Twitter accounts of a politician and an entertainer, and compare their feeds.

To be perfectly honest, I don’t follow politics. I know I should, but I haven’t yet gotten into the habit. Therefore my choice of politician is based on basic knowledge I know and a little bit of randomness rather than keen interest and activism. So who is the lucky politician? Cue the drumroll… it’s Lt. Governor of California, Gavin Newsom! And as a juxtaposition, I’ve chosen late night host and comedian, Conan O’Brien.

I’ve mainly focused on the tweets that have been made available in the past week, although I’ve also glossed over older tweets to get a better picture of what kind of topics they tweet about and what their twitter persona is like.

Newsom tweets about what event (conferences, benefits) he is currently at to promote change and awareness in California. As of late, the majority of his tweets are about education and college tuition fees. For instance, he mentions the UC Regents meeting and expresses how frustrated he is that there are no alternatives to prevent a tuition increase if Prop 30 fails to pass:

He also retweets statistics and other people that are covering the meeting, doing a kind of mini live-coverage of the Regents meeting. In addition, he tweets about his campaign against bullying in San Francisco schools and promotes College Track, an afterschool program that works to increase high school graduation, college eligibility and enrollment, and college graduation rates. All his tweets, including retweets, reflects how important education is to him and emphasizes his wish that something needs to be done immediately.

Observing Newsom’s twitter feed as a whole, it appears he doesn’t reply to any tweets. I wonder why this is. Aside from the fact that he is a busy man, I assume it has to do with media control. That is, to prevent any misunderstanding he may have with a fellow follower, causing a political uproar. Regardless, I’m surprised how often he tweets. It’s not a lot, but it is more than one a day, and you can tell it’s really him who tweets and not someone working for him. Overall, his twitter serves to  send a message of awareness, keep people informed about policies in education, and to express a few opinions. Though there were a few tweets about Joseph Gordon-Levitt, The Dark Night Rises, and Looper, which I found to be outliers.

In contrast, Conan only posts one tweet every single day, with the occasional two related tweets to finish his thought. His tweets are basically witty one-liners or short jokes. Most of his tweets poke fun of recent current events (whether political, social, economical, etc.), although a good majority of them are jokes made at his own expense. He also attaches photos from time to time of himself being silly.

Just like Newsom, Conan does not reply to anyone. It seems the purpose of his twitter account is to only entertain, with his tweets having the appearance of having been planned out and scheduled ahead of time. I’ve often wondered if he himself is actually tweeting. Aside from the tweets in which he talks about himself, I’m sure he has writers on the side composing his funny one liners.

Looking at the Twitters of both Gavin Newsom and Conan, neither of them seem to utilize Twitter as a two-way interaction between themselves and their followers. While Newsom uses his twitter to inform and promote his politics, Conan’s twitter exists to provide a joke a day and make light of current events.

Tapping into Web 2.0

As discussed in the previous post, there are many social media outlets that the average individual can choose from. However, what about companies? How can they begin to utilize social media to bring forth consumers and be part of Web 2.0? According to the Groundswell, two ways: the Social Technographics Profile and POST (People, Objective, Strategy, and Technology).

Taking together the Social Technographic Profile and POST, I thought I’d apply it to two types of writers I follow on Twitter and see whether they promote their works effectively. The first is a novelist and the second, a comic writer. Lets assume that both are virtually unknown. That is, they’re not popular as say Stephen King.

The Novelist:

I did not follow the novelist on Twitter, but rather she followed me, probably based on computerized mumbo-jumbo that took into account my profile stating I’m a “Literature enthusiast” and the fact that I follow writers. Out of curiosity, I followed her back to see what she had to offer. Suffice to say, I was not impressed. All she does is autotweet the same generic advertisement of her novels. The purpose of her twitter is to sell her novel, which is fine, but she does not apply POST. The first three steps are very important here. How she targeted me was purely random, not taking into consideration what genre of books I may be into, but that I liked books overall. She doesn’t realize that I may also be a blogger who likes to write reviews. Her objective may be to sell books, but her strategy is nonexistent. She doesn’t try to establish a relationship with followers like me in any way. And it’s obvious she doesn’t read our tweets from time to time to figure us out and how she can cater her twitter to us. There’s no communication at all. Her tweets don’t acknowledge her thousands of followers and in turn, followers don’t read her tweets. She seems to only utilize O and T, which is ineffective. Of course, this is all speculation and I’m sure some of her followers may pick up her novels. But me? I ignore her tweets. In fact, I don’t know why I continue to follow her. Time to unfollow, perhaps.

The Comic Writer:

Unlike the novelist, I chose to follow this writer first, but for a specific reason. For anyone curious, he doesn’t write for DC Comics or Marvel, which comes with them stature and decent living, but a smaller company called Image. The only reason I knew of him was because I read a short article about his new comic book about Peter Pan in WWII. Being a Peter Pan fan, I blogged about the series and my anticipation. I then tweeted the title and link of my blog post. Days later, this same writer retweeted me and tweeted me directly, thanking me for blogging about his comic and hoping that I enjoyed it when it came out. I was impressed. He was actually searching tags about his comic and making an effort to promote it. I followed him after this incident to see what he had to offer.

This writer definitely applies POST and considers his audience. He doesn’t follow thousands of random people. He follows fellow comic writers, artists, reviewers, bloggers, and the like who can help him. The people are the fellow writers and reviewers I mentioned, but the people also consist of his fans. His objective is to market himself by talking and listening to both groups. His tweets don’t simply say, “Buy my comic!” He tweets sneak previews, sends us to his blog that go in depth about the process, engages his fans by making them excited, pitches other writers, gives advice to aspiring writers, and better yet, he talks directly to his fans. His strategy is therefore to energize writers and fans alike, and get feedback. By applying POST, Twitter (and blog posts) works for him. I’m now a huge fan and promoter of his works.

Granted these writers are different, being from different genres, but how they use their Twitter to market their work was important to me.