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How b2b publisher Research tripled twitter followers in one year

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WilliamBC twitter

Many b2b publishers are keen to use twitter to reach influencers in their industry, but are not sure how to go about building a following or how to convert it into business value.

Research provide newsletters, analysis and an online database for academics looking for research funding. A small independent publisher, founded by William Cullerne Bown, their resources were limited, but they have grown their twitter following three-fold in just over a year, and have joined the shortlist for the 2012 Media Pioneer Awards. 

Ricky Warren, Marketing Manager at Research, explains how they did it.

Ricky Warren 2

"As publishers of specialist media, we have many formats for the output of our information. However as a for-profit business we do charge for this information – our dilemma was how to get more people who don’t currently buy our content to actually view it and then subscribe to it. We also wanted to sell more of our event tickets through promotions and recommendations. We decided to focus on twitter to build this reach.



Background and strategy

We have 5 different twitter accounts for each of our main areas:
Research Fortnight @resfortnight
Research Europe @researcheurope
Research Africa @researchafrica
Research Events @resevents
William Cullerne Bown @williamcb (company founder)

In September 2010, we decided at a strategy level that we wanted to measure twitter following and the sales made from that as a KPI of success. At that moment, our total following across all accounts was approx. 2300.



How did we increase the following?


Through marketing, we began to promote the twitter accounts heavily in relevant media that we published, for example banner ads and links to our twitter accounts were added to email alerts, marketing emails, our print publications, our event programmes, email signatures, etc. From email tracking software and other mechanisms we saw little bursts in the following after each piece of media was sent out.



How did we increase engagement?


In order to increase following and engagement, our editorial team began to tweet more and more. We began to write updates with a bit more contention to them, in order to solicit responses from people, as well as asking questions. We began re-tweeting others and using hash tags to join relevant conversations. We also began posting free news stories from our publications and updates on our events such as speaker details and programme changes.

We tried posting discount codes and offers exclusively on twitter, for example we gave away 10 free 6 month subscriptions (internally we saw them as long term trials). We posted up a competition for renaming a European funding programme worth 80 billion euros over 6 years (horizon 2020) and submitted the suggestions to the body who control the fund.

We live tweeted quotes and take aways from our own events.  Finally we’d also post up relevant articles and quotes from other people and publications to stir discussion.



How did we measure conversions?


By using discount codes and by monitoring the followers that joined us, we could see who had purchased a subscription or event ticket through seeing our twitter accounts.



What were the results?


One year later in September 2011 our following had grown threefold, reaching over 8000 by January 2012. During this period we had sold a large number of event tickets and many subscriptions, helping us to ensure we achieved revenue targets that year."




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TSMS Pioneer


We are delighted to welcome Audience Media as sponsor of the 2012 Media Pioneer Awards.

Audience Media reflect the values of the Media Pioneer Awards. They provide an innovative and flexible web-based SaaS content management system that publishers can use to create, manage and publish content, advertising and subscriptions across print, web, mobile and tablet, social media and other platforms, and, amongst other capabilities, manage their digital assets and reader data across all channels. Audience Media’s solution is designed to suit the needs of niche publishers and  with low set-up fees (which includes development or redevelopment of the website and apps), it is available on an affordable and all inclusive monthly subscription fee, and can grow as the publishers’ business expands.


Audience Media will offer winners of the Media Pioneers Awards a free project build for one of their brands, which will include the design and build of the CMS, new website, native HTML5 iPad app and a free 3 months trial.


For more information, or to book a personalised online demo, contact cobus.heyl@audiencemedia.com

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