Ask not what Twitter can do for your magazine

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Make magazine is an odd bird — we're a magazine in print and online, but we're also a yearly event called Maker Faire, with more than 65,000 attendees, and an online store called Makershed.com, a site with 3 million unique visitors per month. Some know us as the public television show and weekly Web series, makezine.tv, which has more than 2 million views a month and a top iTunes video podcast. And, some just know us because we're on Twitter, a short messaging service that's primarily used by millions of people to just say “what's going on.” We have about 4,000 “followers” to our Twitter feed at twitter.com/make.

Some of our readers on Twitter or the site don't know we're a print magazine, and that's okay. Our brand goes to the places our Makers go: some are kids who watch our videos on YouTube, others just follow us on Twitter to see what's new in the world of “making.” Over time, something sparks, and they join the Make community and do more with us.

When Twitter launched, we decided to do something new with it and launched customer support over Twitter. For readers who have questions about their subscription, or for customers who order an electronic kit from Makershed.com, Twitter is a way to instantly message us and have us answer back within minutes.

As we help customers and soon-to-be customers on Twitter, many of the interactions are public, meaning there's exponential reach for what we provide: useful information, support, daily news and a peek at what our editors are up to. Each week we also "tweet" a special code that gives anyone who follows us on Twitter a discounted subscription. When we do this, we get many new subscribers.

We have another Twitter account just for the Maker Faire event (twitter.com/makerfaire), and tens of thousands of attendees use it to see what's on the day's schedule and to coordinate with friends.

When I look at all of Make's efforts online and off, including Twitter, I see we're putting more value into the “Maker” community than we're taking out. We're useful, we're chock full of information, we're a friend, and we're a utility, all of which make us very valuable to our readers.

Twitter isn't a new place for banner ads — it's a place for relationships.

Phillip Torrone is a senior editor for Make magazine. Reach him at pt@oreilly.com.

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