Social Strategy for Media Publishers: How to Win.

Publishers need to be innovative with social to win readers in 2017. The Drum's Head of Social shares what that means for the award-winning news site.


Adam Libonatti-Roche
December 9, 2016 - 4 min. read

Adam Libonatti-Roche is Head of Social at The Drum, a global marketing news website and PPA Digital’s Media Brand of the Year 2016. Here he talks about how the brand brought its social strategy into the future. 

A (social) empire state of mind
As brands change and experiment with new technologies–Real Madrid moving their TV channel to Facebook Live is a great example–publishers need to be keeping up as well as reporting on it. At The Drum, we report on every change in social media marketing and how to make difference to your future social strategy.

What makes that statement eye-opening is that until recently, the social content distribution model at The Drum was pretty standard. There was no thought about how we were publishing our content on social media. Instead, it was pretty much ‘pay and spray’ with frequency superseding quality.

But that is all in the past. The future of publishers now very much depends on their attitude to social media.


The broadcast mentality leads to (community) bankruptcy
Shouting about your brand without listening to what your social community is saying back will only lead to potential customers leaving in droves. This happens all the time when brands reply to customer service engagements with automated replies. It’s impersonal and sometimes offensive.

At The Drum, we were just shouting into the ether, never taking notice of what our consumers were saying back to us, and this was just wrong. Instead of shouting, we decided to listen, engage and act.

Applications like have helped us to analyze the content that works and more importantly, find the  individuals who really enjoy our content. It’s a reason why we have evolved our social media activity from a broadcast channel into a forum for our readers to engage and interact with us. 

Define: social platform
Take our Social Buzz Awards channel. Prior to our change in thinking, “buy your ticket now” style messaging dominated the stream, which made it hard to differentiate the account from common spam. A necessary change was needed and after a few jugs of coffee, a new direction was decided on.

We turned Social Buzz Awards into an educational resource that teaches social media professionals the best way to further their career. The #SMBuzzChat TweetChat provided a platform where the community can showcase their talents and learn from peers. This mindset is present across all the Social Buzz Awards’ channels: the Facebook page, LinkedIn group and the video series based on the TweetChat.

“At The Drum, we were just shouting into the ether, never taking notice of what our consumers were saying back to us, and this was just wrong. “

Adam Libonatti-Roche, Head of Social, The Drum

Instead of being ‘just another awards channel’, Social Buzz Awards is now seen as an educational commodity, and the #SMBuzzChat hashtag is used globally by individuals wanting advice, opinion and more from the world of social media.

Why have a social media manager when you can have a social media…company?
Bear with me here. That title is not the best but I refused to change it because one, I was not sure what to change it to and two, it’s actually what we are trying to do at The Drum.

We want to socially activate every member of The Drum; from marketing to sales, HR to events, each employee should be more than competent when it comes to utilizing social media.

As the term social media marketing slowly moves into just ‘marketing’ and into ‘everyday actions’ instead of being just a niche action, a company needs to ensure that their staff understands its true power and potential.

Business Insider has managed to introduce a ‘have a go social’ mentality in all of their reporters. Writer James Cook used Facebook Live to interview Milo Yiannopoulos while his colleague, Lara O’Reilly, streamed interviews and updates during Cannes. If social media can instilled throughout a company, then that mindset will only benefit the company as a whole.

Always innovate
Do you remember when social media wasn’t really a platform ready for sharing publishing content? It was the same period in internet history when MSN Messenger was really catching on and you were still hanging about in chat rooms in irrelevant arguments with strangers. The internet keeps moving on; how long do you think it will be until some new platform dwarfs Twitter?

When brands are innovating on social media, publishers should be taking note; keeping up rather than catching up or, in some cases such as Mashable, Business Insider, The Next Web, actually leading the charge. 

Facebook Live is the current trend but a lot of brands are using it incorrectly with dull and disinteresting content. Make sure to experiment. Find out what works on every platform. Who knows? That’s where your audience could flock to next and you need to be ready to cater for them.

Innovation can be risky business, so my advice here (and it’s something every scientist knows) is to start small and always have control. At The Drum, we’re lucky to have a large number of products that we can experiment with and compare. Not every company has an expanded portfolio of products to try these ideas – which is why we at The Drum are always pleased and keen to report on the possibilities.

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