Social Media in 2021

How Publishers of All Sizes Can Embrace Social Media in 2021

It’s time to pivot your strategy and embrace social media in 2021.

Digital publishers were among the first to embrace social media, but in 2021, nearly every publication has gotten on board. Across social media platforms, and particularly Twitter, both digital and print publishers have gone all in on their social media strategies.

Publications like Vox and The New York Times have developed a unique voice for their social media accounts, lending an air of credibility and authenticity to each of their posts. Of course, news media publishers don’t have to be all business to grow their followers on social media in 2021. Some of the biggest news accounts on Twitter post a healthy mix of breaking news, entertaining video, and retweets of viral memes.

A lighthearted approach to social media won’t be the best fit for all digital publishers. It can be hard for a local news publication to be taken seriously if its Facebook page and Twitter feed are full of memes and TikTok videos. In other words, to emulate the social media strategies that top legacy media companies have adopted, publishers will have to take a close look at who they are trying to reach and what their organizations represent.

Many digital publishers don’t realize the impact that having a strong presence on social media in 2021 can have on their bottom line. In today’s media space, readers look at social media to get a feel for the publication and better understand what the publication represents. Many readers might come across a publication for the first time on social media, usually after someone has re-posted or retweeted the publication’s content. Readers like to see how active a publication is on social media to get a sense of what perspectives they are offering. Some readers might even be using social media to get a better sense of what the publication covers on a day to day basis, before clicking over to the publisher’s website and deciding to subscribe.

For smaller publishers, it can feel downright impossible to have a social media presence that’s on the same level as top tier media organizations, like The Washington Post or The New York Times. It’s more than just manpower in these situations. It’s also strategy and innovation. Those take time and financial resources to develop.

The most entry-level social media strategy for a local news publisher is to simply post links to news articles on Facebook and Twitter. One step above that is to add a sentence or two describing each article in a way that makes people want to click-through. Beyond that is where true innovation and creativity in social media strategy come into play. That’s the level that today’s digital publishers should be looking to reach.

Attributes of the Most Followed News Accounts on Social Media

What do the top media publishers on social media have in common? Take a look at the top 10 most followed news accounts on Twitter and you might begin to notice some trends.

Most Followed News Accounts on Twitter

  1.  @cnnbrk
  2. @CNN
  3. @nytimes
  4. @BBCBreaking
  5. @SportsCenter
  6. @ESPN
  7. @BBCWorld
  8. @TheEconomist
  9. @NatGeo
  10. @Reuters

Some of the publishers on this list make logical sense. Breaking news accounts like @cnnbrk and @BBCBreaking are well suited for social media in 2021. That large media organizations like The New York Times and CNN have big followings on social media is no surprise, either. What might be more surprising is to see National Geographic and The Economist on this list. How did they reach the top 10 most followed news accounts on Twitter?

National Geographic is a great example of a niche publication that’s been able to translate its foundational values for social media. National Geographic regularly posts links to its latest articles, but the publisher also engages social media followers by hosting hashtag campaigns and celebrating holidays that are relevant to its mission. (For example, #NationalPengiunDay and #EarthDay this month.) With more than 25 million followers on Twitter, the strategy is paying off.

The Economist’s social media strategy is also top notch. Posts across Twitter, Facebook, and other social media channels are designed to drive people back to the publication’s website to subscribe. The strategy to drive traffic from social media to its website, where visitors can register and subscribe, has led to an increase in monthly referral traffic from social media platforms by 180%. More than one-third of The Economist’s website traffic now comes from social media.

Embracing Social Media in 2021 – Key Takeaways

  • It’s not too late for publishers to jump on board and embrace social media in 2021.
  • News publishers should have clearly defined social media strategies in place.
  • Hashtag campaigns encourage engagement on a publisher’s social profiles.
  • Magazine publishers are finding success driving people from social media back to their websites to subscribe.

To learn even more about how top publishers are using social media to drive website traffic and subscriptions, check out The 5 Best Twitter Strategies for Local News Publishers.