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The Big Brand Theory: Cosmopolitan

The early part of the 1960s is considered the dawning of the so-called Sexual Revolution. One event that helped to herald that time was the publication of the book Sex and the Single Girl written by Helen Gurley Brown.

Brown's success was a phenomenon, and in 1965 helped her land the job as the new editor-in-chief of once-staid Cosmopolitan. There, she introduced a more liberal attitude towards women and sexuality that permeates the publication to this day. 

Cosmopolitan is published by Hearst Magazines, has over 60 international editions and is printed in dozens of languages. It also has a team of social media community managers that share copious quantities of content in social media.

Elise Benson.
When Elisa Benson started her job as a community manager for the magazine a couple of years ago, she comprised a team of one. Today, that team has grown to a handful of individuals with Benson as the Senior Community Manager.

The team includes a designated social media editor, a fashion and beauty assistant who contributes to Instagram, a former intern who on a freelance basis helps maintain Tumblr, and an editorial assistant who helps with tweeting on nights and weekends.

With over five million fans on Facebook and over a million on Twitter, there can be a healthy response to many of the some 200 posts a day that the team publishes.  Benson tells me, "the coolest part of my job is that knowing whenever we want to talk to our readers about something, they're there, listening and waiting to respond and participate."

As a magazine, the team has a lot of content to pull from. Still, they often go beyond their own content with engagement. For example, in one recent post, the social team asked their audience to post their prom photos for #throwbackThursday. The response was enthusiastic.

In another example, the team recently had a viewing party, where in honor of the tenth anniversary of the movie The Notebook, they invited their Twitter followers to watch along and tweet at home.  Benson explains, "It was almost as engaging as when we were tweeting the Oscars. It was exciting to know that we don't need to be tied to the larger entertainment calendar. We don't need to wait for the Oscars to have a live social moment; we can create something based on what our audience cares about."

cosmopolitan magazine

Instagram

While Facebook and Twitter have been the predominant platforms for Cosmopolitan, the brand has also experienced some success on other platforms.  Benson says, "I think all of our networks as having their own personality. Different things perform better or in different ways on different networks. Certainly on Twitter and Facebook, one of our main goals is to get people back to Cosmopolitan.com. On Instagram, there's no way to really do that so we're not really thinking about that at all. Instagram is an end in itself."

Benson continues, "It's almost nice to not have the pressure to think about being measured in terms of traffic so that we can be really creative and fun on Instagram. We can shoot these really beautiful photos just because we want to have something visual and exciting. It doesn't necessarily have to tie back to a story."

For many events, such as the Oscars, a lot of the same images circulate across Twitter and Facebook. Benson says, "some of our readers who are following us on Instagram may not even be paying attention to those other spaces. There are definitely women out there who are using Instagram as their primary social network. So, when we post a picture of a dress, they haven't necessarily seen that in a million other places."

The Cosmopolitan approach to Instagram is the product of a concerted effort to post quality content; an on-staff photographer creates all of the images. Benson concludes, "The days of kind of snapping a photo around the office and posting it to Instagram are a bit behind us. We want to tell more of a Cosmo story."

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