by Sara Guaglione, Staff Writer, November 3, 2016
While some publishers are turning to social media platforms as a way to distribute their content to new audiences, Mike Dyer, president and publisher of The Daily Beast, relies heavily on his own journalists and platform to build the brand.
“Our journalists and their expertise are our single best source for building a consumer-facing brand,” he said.
For years, The Daily Beast has invested in the “meaningful exposure” of its journalists by having them participate in TV shows. You will often find a Daily Beast journalist making a guest appearance on CNN, for example.
“While we are a digital publishing brand, it is also the case that having our writers and editors on TV helps drive awareness for our brand,” Dyer said.
He believes the biggest challenge facing publishers today is the focus on scale “for the sake of scale,” instead of “brand health or vitality.” The “scale era of digital publishing” over the last decade has obscured and “de-emphasized” the “the timeless attributes of journalism… which are influence and loyalty,” Dyer said.
Too often digital publishers have rushed to repackage content to fit a social platform, rather than focused on building their own platform and voice. This has resulted in the “lost art of brand building,” Dyer said.
In order to build a strong publishing brand, “you have to create a destination that people want to seek out, rather than put your content where people will bump into it,” he said.
For this reason, The Daily Beast doesn’t take advantage of social media assets like Facebook Instant Articles or Snapchat Discover.
“Being everywhere is being nowhere,” Dyer insisted.
He doesn’t think all social platforms are bad, however. For example, The Daily Beast does use Facebook Live, because “it allows us to retain our voice and accentuate our advantages with our expert journalists and make them available in a different way — rather than repackage [our content] as a buzzy or social headline.”
When referring to loyalty as a valuable asset to publishers, Dyer means having an audience that comes directly to the publisher for its content, instead of “accidentally ending up” on the Web site.
The Daily Beast has about 18 million unique visitors a month, and direct traffic is nearly 50% of that. Thirty percent of their traffic comes directly to the homepage.
“For years people have thought the homepage doesn’t matter, which is synonymous with [saying] the publisher’s brand doesn’t matter,” Dyer said.
Dyer describes a segment of The Daily Beast’s audience as “loyal Google users.” A notable percentage of The Daily Beast’s traffic comes from readers who type into Google search “daily beast…” followed by a topic, such as “Trump” or “Game of Thrones.”
“People are looking for our point of view on a topic,” Dyer said. “We don’t want to give up that point of view for the sake of off-platform growth,” he said.
The expertise that Dyer touts among his journalists also influences the company’s advertising business. He believes Daily Beast journalists should not be a part of the branded content side of the business. Instead, he employs freelancers to work on specific campaigns.
For each unique campaign, The Daily Beast will hire an “expert in that field.”
“Expertise matters just as much as it does on the advertising side as it does on the journalism side,” he said.