Websites Gone Wild!

 Hearst's Ellard and Johnson talk digital media with students.
Hearst’s Ellard and Johnson talk digital media with students.

Traffic, page views, SEO, widgets and click – this is the type of fast-talk Chris Johnson, VP of  Content  and Business Development for Hearst Digital Media, and Beth Ellard, Content Director  for Hearst, threw out to Summer Publishing Institute students  on day three.

“For better or worse,” said Ellard, “you know every day how well your content is working with your users. You get immediate feedback.”  During their hour-long presentation, Ellard and Johnson  laid out the tactics used to make the online magazine experience ultra-interactive and engaging, while also driving advertising and print sales. For Hearst, which creates online multimedia content for magazines like Esquire, Redbook, Marie Claire, Good Housekeeping and Seventeen, this  means everything from creating key words for Google searches to knowing what type of content draws crowds.

“Optimizing each piece of content for search is essential,” said Ellard. And once you get readers where you want them, you better know what content will keep them interested. Cosmo’s “Photo Wars” widget in which viewers can rate which celebrity hairstyle they prefer or which shoe style is more fashionable was a big draw.  “You can just lose hours choosing which shoe style you like best,” said Ellard.

And don’t forget social media. “Mostly all of our brands have a presence on Facebook,” said Johnson, adding that  Facebook, Twitter and other sites are great ways to reach new audiences, and get the conversation rolling.

Hearst's Dan Roberts spells out social media

Next up was Hearst Senior SEO Strategist and Analyst Dan Roberts, who told the very engaged audience that “new media is now ‘now’ media.”  He really raved about the power of the site Digg, which he called “crack” on the web. Roberts stressed the importance of using multimedia tools to promote your brand – e-newsletters, social networks, mobile apps and more. The key is ease of usage:  “I can teach my parents how to use Facebook.”

But all the cool tools in the world won’t substitute for substance. “Kick-ass content is kick-ass content,” said Roberts.  “Send them the kind of stuff you would like to be sent.”

by Phil Schillaci Kropoth

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