Results at a Glance
The SocialTimes.com blog network (now AdWeek) covered all things social media, and under our guidance grew by 63% over two years as well as increased its writer base from 2 to 12 writers. The site went through a redesign and expanded into YouTube video, where the project scored over 4,000,000 views. The site was acquired by AdWeek and became their flagship social media property, absorbing other successful blogs such as AllTwitter, AllFacebook, InsideSocialGames and more.
% traffic growth over 2 years
followers across Facebook and Twitter
million video views on SocialTimes YouTube channel
Challenge: Expand the Social Media Blog Network
The Mediabistro blog network had expanded to acquire the fast growing AllFacebook blog with 1m+ monthly unique visitors and newly formed SocialTimes blog with 150k monthly unique visitors. They wanted to expand the SocialTimes blog by hiring new writers, improving and increasing the quantity of content, improving the focus and redesigning the site.
Approach: Improve Team, Process, Quality and Quantity
We took a methodical, problem-solution approach to growing the SocialTimes brand. We started by looking deeply at the goals for the site.
Goals: Grow Traffic and Increase Quality
We started by prioritizing the goals: the main target was to grow traffic and increase quality. With that as the target, we looked at the site’s trend up until that point.
SocialTimes had been focused on cutting edge news about the rapid developments in the social media space. It covered a broad range of topics, from technology to business to culture. The key was to separate each of those streams, which were currently being written by one writer, and to find specialized writers for each beat. This would allow us to build audiences within each vertical.
We refined the streams and better defined the audience. To distinguish the site, we established the mission statement as “emerging social network news.” We refocused content on fast growth social networks, such as Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn as well as covering smaller networks that popped up monthly and international networks like Tencent, QQ, Mixi and Line.
We defined attractive content formats, including news, lists, guides, infographics, interviews, podcast and video content.
Using analytics, we saw the audience were mainly tech professionals in New York, Los Angeles, London who wanted to keep up to date with trends in the space.
Team: Build a Stable of Writers
Happy with the direction, the next step was to expand the team in order to grow the content and visibility of the blog. We were able to work with parent company mediabistro.com to put out a series of calls for writers and had a great selection of candidates from a variety of backgrounds. We chose writers specifically for each beat and built the roster up to six, and then later to twelve.
Process: Use Collaborative Editorial Tools
To manage the team, we implemented Yammer, a corporate social media tool, which would allow a centralized meeting place share pitches, comment on each other’s work and build a culture for the team. We also put together an effective new writer’s guide that got them up to speed within a week. A key part to our success with SocialTimes was leveraging a suite of tools, shown below, that allowed us to stay organized despite the breakneck pace of social media news.
Yammer for collaboration.
Chartbeat for real-time analytics.
Google Analytics for visitor statistics.
HootSuite for social.
WordPress for publishing.
Content: Produce High Quality Content
With our process and team in place, we upped our daily post count from one or two to between four and six. We did a few feature length articles per week in addition to news articles, and we quickly gained traction. We had a few articles that got thousands of shares, and we were regularly featured on techmeme.com, a content aggregator that collected insights about social media from around the web. This became a strong source of traffic for us.
We worked on a complete site redesign, which helped organize the site into its current layout, with clear categorization for the various verticals of the site. We also helped Megan O’Neill, who had a deep passion for the viral video trends of the web, create a video division and YouTube channel covering viral videos. The channel achieved 4 million views and was a huge success.
Distribution: Connect with the Audience using Social Media
As we grew, the challenge was to continue to evolve and beat out the competing blog networks. This meant we had to write more feature stories, so we hired more feature writers and started writing longer pieces. This decision was informed by our analytics and tools such as Buzzsumo that identified popular posts in various topics. We utilized social media obsessively, both posting and engaging with our fans and other publications in the space, and increasing our social followers to over 25,000 Twitter followers and 90,000 Facebook likes
Results: 60 Percent Traffic Increase Over Two Years
SocialTimes traffic increased by 60% over two years which surpassed expectations. On the momentum of the growth, SocialTimes and the Mediabistro ad network were acquired by media heavyweight AdWeek. The various blogs were folded under the SocialTimes brand, and the new blog network continues to be a leader in the social media news space today.
Social media followers continued to grow and have continued at that momentum since we’ve handed over the reigns to AdWeek. There are currently 65,000 Twitter followers and 250,000 Facebook likes on the official pages.
“Insightful helped SocialTimes become one of the web’s leading sources for social media insight and analysis. They expanded content production, improved our social media distribution and managed the growing writer team with passion, creativity and skill.”
Chris Ariens – Editorial Director, Adweek Blog Network
We’re also proud that SocialTimes writers have moved on to writing and marketing roles in companies such as CBS and Animoto, as they were able to use the experience to hone their understanding of new networks and learn how to effectively work in a fast-moving online environment.