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Reader Solidarity

Posted on Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 10:14 AM

Strengthening your publication's bond with readers.

Some magazines have readers who think of themselves as part of a group. They relate to one another in some sort of way. Other magazines seem to lack that kind of connection. The magazines that engender reader solidarity may have something going for themselves. Not renewing a subscription becomes tantamount to leaving the group!

What makes the difference between magazines that have reader solidarity and those that don't? A tactic used by a number of magazines is to carry content that allows readers to get to know one another.

It doesn't take a degree in psychology to recognize -- and understand -- the fascination held by some readers for learning what ever they can about the feelings, attitudes, and lifestyles of others with interests similar to their own. When given the opportunity to share their thoughts on the topic or to divulge something personal about themselves, many will likely jump at the chance. That's because many readers want to see themselves as part of a group.

One technique for promoting solidarity involves celebrities. Not necessarily the Hollywood kind, but people in your field whom readers know and admire. Quotes from such well-known people or opinion leaders can be a point of interest. Guest articles from them can be popular, too. An editor told us, "Our readers are always interested in the leaders in our field. They want to know about them. They can relate to them because these people are real, and share some of the problems and concerns of us all."

Readership surveys are also an excellent way of garnering solidarity-building content. They are one of the best ways to satisfy the penchant readers seem to have for achieving a sense of group identity. Articles based on readership surveys help to give readers a chance to see where they fit into the group.

A comprehensive survey can be a considerable project, however. One editor who recently completed one told us, "Putting one of these surveys together can be a very involved process. Ours took months to do. First you have to come up with this survey. You have to make sure that it's a statistically sound survey. Then, you've got to gather all of the responses, and have them evaluated. The whole thing has to be written. It's very complex."

But, she added, "it's very worth doing."

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