Business information written specifically for newspaper advertising departments

We at Above the Fold are big proponents of social media and the great things it can do for your newspaper and classifieds. As a result, we have offered many tips and tricks for building your business strategy. Much of this has to do with who should manage your social media, what they should post and how often. However, there is more to social media than content. Steve Nichols said the widespread focus on content is too narrow a view of social media. So instead, he offers his more holistic approach that he calls “The Three C’s” in an article for The Huffington Post called, “Why Most Companies Fail at Social Media – Understanding the Three C’s”. Nichols explained that “The Three C’s” not only include content, but also context and conditions. Below, we have synthesized the steps your ad department needs to take in order to implement Nichols’ approach to social media.

The articles we have brought you about social media and youthful hires may have sounded like we were giving you conflicting evidence. Although I recommend using a committed employee for your social media strategy instead of an intern, I also suggest that searching for youth is a possible way to get fresh ideas. I stand by both sets of advice, however, it was not until I came across an article from  that gave explicit advice not to hire a 23 year old, did I realize that my advice might have been somewhat confusing. This article outlined a set of stereotypes about today’s youth that are both non-factual and could be possibly discriminatory. 


For this issue’s paper spotlight, and in addition to our classified retrospective, we are examining the affect adding a pay-wall can have on your subscription revenue. Although we wont be examining a specific paper to discuss their innovative ideas, we will be taking a critical look at a common move many newspapers are making that intend to replace the lost revenue from adding a full and free version of the paper online. In the past, people would have had to pay for a single issue or monthly subscription to take advantage of your newspaper’s content, however, with information being widely available, people are using their pennies elsewhere and getting their news for free. 

If you are going to offer comprehensive and reputable advertising solutions to your advertisers, it’s necessary to go above and beyond printing their ads. You should be a resource through and through by offering tips, strategies and data to back up all of their advertising decisions. Case in point: search engine optimization (SEO). For your advertisers to really start seeing results and response from customers, they not only have to advertise (in your paper!), they also need to have an active, well-designed website with great online “searchability” — also known as SEO. Yes, this little piece of jargon gets thrown around a lot, but it carries a lot of weight. SEO refers to the search engine results for a website, depending on the effectiveness of its headlines, content and the keywords used. To make sure your advertisers’ websites have the impact they want and need in order to boost revenue, they need to format them in a way that will heighten its chance of showing up in popular search engines.

Although a pay-wall does exist for The New York Times, the content on its website is also decidedly social. Unlike other newspapers with pay-walls, The New York Times allows articles to be viewed for free if they are accessed from another news source or social media outlet. This presentation, while a seemingly bad idea for The New York Times, as they may lose on revenue, is a great idea for news itself. 

With all the buzz about social media, it’s easy to get intimidated by the jargon and rules. Well, here’s the dirty little secret: It’s not intimidating and there are no real rules. True, there are good ideas and bad, but real success with social media will be all about finding your own voice, regardless of the chatter. To get started, here are the five most important tips to help guide your social media strategy. Keep in mind, these are just tips, but they are, in essence, how begin building a successful social strategy.

Facebook has become a crucial aspect of marketing for all kinds of businesses across the spectrum, and real estate is no exception. However, it’s important to approach Facebook and other social media tools with an organized strategy, rather than winging it. While personal Facebook profiles are up to your discretion, when using it for business purposes there are both legal and social rules that you should know, understand and abide by. We want to share some do’s and don’ts for using Facebook to promote real estate listings. By having this knowledge at your disposal, you will be able to offer your real estate clients the best advertising solutions possible, and they will see your newspaper as a valuable advertising resource.

Colleen Reese is the Audience Development Coordinator for Philadelphia-based B2B publishing company NAPCO. She oversees several of the magazines’ social strategies and facilitates digital circulation efforts. She is also the social community manager for their annual publishing conference, Publishing Business Conference & Expo ( — the nation’s largest conference for magazine and book publishing executives.She can be reached at or on Twitter @colltreese.

Since the end of 2010 and the beginning of 2011, something has been happening across the Arab world that the media has deemed the “Arab Spring.” Much can be learned from the discontent that boiled over and mobilized thousands of people across these countries, taking the form of protests that sparked revolutions and even the overthrow of entire governments. It began in Tunisia in December 2010 and has since had a ripple effect on neighboring countries, including Libya, Egypt and Syria, but that’s only a few of the almost 20 countries that have held what ranges from small protests to entire governmental overhauls. Perhaps most interestingly is the use of social media during The Arab Spring as a catalyst and mobilization tool for many of these revolutions. These revolutionary uses of social networks can certainly teach your ad department about implementing a successful social media strategy. 

Now that you know the basics behind Instagram, it’s time to explore how using it at your newspaper can improve your brand image and maybe even generate some revenue from your advertisers. As we have said many times before, social networks are not mere Internet fluff. These conversations (and pictures) are happening in real time and have a real effect on your brand image and reputation, so give them the attention they deserve. Although Instagram is often used as a form of artistic expression best suited for creative and arts-related industries, corporations outside of this realm have also found branding success with the mobile app. We have set up some guidelines below so you can incorporate a successful Instagram account into your newspaper’s branding and marketing strategy. You can show your advertisers that this is an opportunity they will not want to miss, and offer to manage and monitor their Instagram account, or offer to post pictures promoting their business on your own account for a fee.

It may seem like a lofty feat to navigate the growing world of social media, especially when there seems to be a new network going viral every day. However, a few appear to have staying power, and your ad department should take notice and incorporate them into your marketing and revenue strategies. We’ve discussed Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest before, so now it’s time to talk about Instagram. Newspapers may more readily see the necessity in incorporating active and present Facebook and Twitter accounts into their day-to-day work schedule, while remaining more hesitant about this photo-sharing mobile app. Yes, Instagram is growing in rapid popularity since its inception in 2010, opening registration to Android users and not to mention the recent $1 billion buyout from Facebook. But there has also been substantial proof of other brands having success with establishing a presence on the app that may just change your mind. Below we break down the what, how and why of Instagram, so you will be prepared if you decide to take the plunge into this social network.

On June 14, campaign strategist David Axelrod held a Twitter town hall on the @BarackObama Twitter page following the President’s economic speech in Ohio. This is certainly not the first attempt at a Twitter town hall Q&A forum, but Mashable made the argument that it was the best effort to date. Although President Obama’s Twitter page is far from the average account (it has over 6.5 million followers), there are still lessons that can be learned from this social media event. As a newspaper ad department, it’s important to establish a strong Twitter presence for your newspaper, but you can also relay this advice to your advertisers. Occasional Q&A sessions are a great way to do this. Get the conversation rolling with your followers by answering any questions they may have about your paper, or in your client’s case, questions about their brand. Below we have expanded on five of these lessons that you could take with you when doing Q&A sessions on Twitter.

You may be getting sick of hearing about social media. Frankly, if you are, it’s understandable; social media has been in the news a lot lately, and people promoting the wonders of it have probably talked off all of your individual and collective ears. Of course, social media is a huge field, and can be leveraged in many ways to help both your and your clients’ brands. Well, a country — yes, and entire country — has decided to use social media to help boost their tourism. Sweden is passing off their Twitter account to a different citizen each week, to allow said citizen to say whatever it is that they want. 

As you no doubt already know, Facebook went IPO recently, making it possible for the public to buy stock in the company. It appears to have been a bad idea; Facebook’s stocks are tanking and there have been multiple lawsuits brought against the company’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg. Many believe that Facebook will fail, and I’m sure just as many people hope it does. However, the question does remain: Will the success or failure of Facebook merely be the result of financial difficulty, or will its fate be determined by much more — an indication that we no longer need it?

It’s no secret that social media is changing the way companies brand themselves and how consumers receive and respond to those brands. In the past 10 years, social networks, including, but not limited to, Facebook and Twitter, have put marketing through a complete metamorphosis. While companies used to only be able to present themselves and their products through a few, select vessels (i.e., newspapers, television and radio), now they have the expansive and never-ending Internet to deal with. Now everyone with an Internet browser has a voice — anyone can post a blog or comment either shouting their praises or screaming their dissatisfaction with a brand. These conversations are happening so fast that it may seem a bit daunting to keep up, but it’s necessary that companies monitor their online image and create their advertising based upon it.

While browsing the vast and never ending Internet to uncover interesting and juicy tidbits useful to Above the Fold readers, I came across and article called “Our Smartphones, Ourselves.” This article, written by Erika Morphy, a contributor discussed how out color choices when selecting smartphones is illustrative of our personality traits. Not only are 80% of these choices subconscious, but also they can help to describe much more that just behaviors. Apparently, users of different brands of phones smell differently too. Color me surprised, and also informed. Although, you, in the newspaper ad industry, cannot capitalize on the sale of smartphones, you can use this information to help your clients customize and tailor their ads to reflect consumer color choices and personality traits. 

When looking for new ways to boost revenue for your newspaper, you may want to take a page from The Texas Tribune, an Austin-based digital newspaper. April Hinkle, the Chief Revenue Officer, said that the non-profit and non-partisan paper’s goal is to “educate Texans.” The paper strives to present informative and unbiased news on politics, government and policies to Texas citizens. Although their presence is strictly digital (, they make all of their content free-of-charge and open for redistribution by newspapers, radio and television stations. For instance, they publish some of their stories in The New York Times on Fridays and Sundays. As a non-profit, The Texas Tribune relies on funding from grants, donations and the like. However, as of August 2011, the paper began implementing an innovative revenue source that has proven to be very successful for them.

It’s no secret that newspaper sales are down and the industry is hurting. In 2011, newspaper revenue decreased by 7.3 percent, which is equivalent to approximately $2 billion. Many attribute the decline of newspapers to its inability to adapt to the digital era. Although newspapers have put their products online, there isn’t a distinction between the print and online versions. While newspapers may claim that they have adapted (Look, it’s online! Look, we have a Facebook!), they’re not actually leveraging all of the capabilities and possibilities of new technologies by merely regurgitating a copy of the print newspaper online. Instead, newspapers need to emphasize the differences between print and online — and that should be reflected in their advertising as well.

Facebook, Twitter, Foursqaure, and now many newspaper professionals are talking about the next big social networking site: Pinterest. Pinterest — a virtual bulletin board that allows users to “pin” images of food, weddings, home decorations and the like — is growing in popularity at astronomical rates. Editorial departments of newspapers have made a fairly seamless transition on to the site by posting images of local restaurants or a scene from last night’s sports game, and then linking to a corresponding article on the paper’s website. There’s even a collaborative pin board for newspapers called “Newspapers Pinning.” However, ad departments seem to remaining on the sidelines, once again stumped as how to monetize this very new, very popular social networking site. However, it can be done, and it could prove very beneficial to the ad department and the newspaper’s advertisers.

With the mass exodus to online advertising, many are curious about the best way to organize advertisements on the newspaper’s website to ensure the best visibility and thus, a healthy click rate. Traditionally, newspapers and websites alike have a consistent visual format, which allows for the predictable organization of news and advertisements. While this encourages easy navigability, it also allows readers to bypass advertisements because the space that they inhabit is so easily anticipated. Like any everyday routine, predictability often encourages us to switch over to autopilot, thus overlooking the extraneous details that ask too much attention, ads are not exception to this.

How do we bring readers back to the newspaper? It’s a question everyone is asking as readers can turn almost any corner (albeit digital ones) to find an easier and faster way to consume media. Both advertising and editorial departments are seeking solutions to engage readers and then maintain that audience. Newspaper editorial staffs across the country have suggested making the newspaper hyperlocal and including user-generated content in order to create a stronger interaction between the reader and the news. Although editorial and ad departments don’t always readily see eye-to-eye, they are striving for the same goal. Therefore, ad departments, who are asking the same question, can also increase revenue by creating greater interaction and engagement between readers and advertisements. 


In the May/June issue of Above the Fold, we will discuss ways email can be used to boost advertising sales in the recruitment sections of newspapers. While exploring the issue, I began to contemplate the always new and always changing tools for communication provided by the Internet that appear to be replacing older methods such as email. A recent survey conducted by Ipsos last February proved otherwise, demonstrating that email is actually rivaling social networks like Facebook and Twitter in terms of usage. 

LinkedIn — in case you didn’t know — is a business-oriented social network. Since its launch in 2003, the site boasts 135 million registered users, and it is gaining popularity as a tool for both applicants and employers. LinkedIn is more than a job-listing site; it is a network of professionals. LinkedIn posts on their site that “executives from all 2011 Fortune 500 companies [are] members” of this network. The site uses multi-level contacts called Connections, and each user has a list of business Connections. Think of it like a Rolodex™; but (certain restrictions apply) you’re able to access all of your Connections’ contacts as well. They are your extended Connections and this maintains a chain of professional contacts. The site utilizes a “gated-access approach” to preserve privacy, but you can use these Connections to search for suitable candidates.

Although the editorial, circulation and ad departments in newspapers tend to be separated, each operating within their traditional structures, a new development in web circulation could have an impact on these very separate departments. This development is the paywall. If you don’t already have a paywall at your paper, then your editorial and ad content is free for users, allowing anyone to read articles and see advertisements. If you do have a paywall, there are a few different implementation strategies, ranging from all content being subscription based to limited free content.