While there is no clear king of social publishing, no one disputes that Mashable is a contender. Mashable gets social, and with that deep understanding they have been able to bridge the gap between building communities and monetizing them in an authentic way.
The team at Mashable has figured out the digital value exchange built into a repost, and they have applied that knowledge to create a highly successful community-first social strategy. Jon Resnik, our chief creative officer, shared with Digiday exactly why this strategy works so well.
“Personal reach is the true currency of all social platforms, so letting people submit photos and get recognized is only going to lead to more people following. There’s an incentive to share your stuff with Mashable for the social currency that comes from that recognition.”
Mashable’s method of playing the social currency market has bought them a solid Instagram following: quadrupling to 120K followers in roughly a year.
The overall community-first strategy has manifested itself in a variety of tactics. Mashable’s Instagram is known for hosting weekly photo contests, featuring other amazing Instagram accounts, and reposting photos users submit with #MashPics. Each of these tactics is an exchange of social reach: both accounts involved are exposed to new eyes, and both communities grow. It’s a win-win.
However, Mashable is now taking its funds in the bank of social currency and converting them into real dollars—the kind that pay the bills. There’s always a risk when publishers and influencers attempt to make this transition. If content from a trusted source suddenly becomes too promotional, that source loses the credibility it has spent so much time and energy building up.
Mashable has found a way to monetize their community while preserving their integrity by allowing brands to sponsor the community-first initiatives they have already built. As an example, check out this contest with Hyatt Place:
The concept stands on its own, which keeps the promotional content authentic. The partnership between Mashable and Hyatt Place is merely perceived as bringing in an expert to judge the contest, which in fact boosts the credibility of both parties.
The currency of content may be community reach, but the currency of commerce is still dollars—an important thing to remember. Only brands that are able to implement a successful conversion process will be winning at social.