If you haven’t yet heard of Susannah George, prepare to meet the brains behind fast-growing lifestyle site, The Urban List. The company she founded and directs is poised to expand internationally when it cracks the Auckland market, and looks set to scale even loftier heights. But what exactly are the secrets to Susannah’s success? She lets us in on what gives her the edge…
The Urban List is a recommendation source – a curated guide to optimise your life in the city. But it’s also much more than that. The Urban List is about trust. It’s about selectivity and integrity. It’s about finding hidden gems – places and products we can hand on heart endorse – and sharing them with readers – our Urban List family and friends.
Given that position, there’s no doubt that the influence and engagement we’ve built with our social media audience is one of the strongest assets for The Urban List brand. Here are just a few of the secrets to my success…
- Content is king
I think we can all agree, it’s hard to predict precisely where the industry is going, but one thing is for sure – content marketing is a huge growth sector. Last I read, 60% of marketers are planning to increase their spending on content in the next 12 months.
What that says to me, is that standard content strategy isn’t going to cut it anymore. To secure your clients’ loyalty, and their business, you need solutions that are punching way above their weight. Content that’s reputable and memorable. Content that stands out.
As the Facebook algorithm has changed, organic social exposure has been increasingly difficult to achieve. But despite Facebook’s best efforts, the quality, relevance and value of our content has ensured that we’ve maintained our engagement levels.
Still today, more than half of our entire audience is the result of readers sharing, and engaging with the content that we publish across our social media channels.
- Social media engagement is paramount
As a start up, with little to no marketing budget, creating highly sharable, social content was the growth strategy for The Urban List. Our hit lists were specifically devised to be shared, liked and commented on – spreading the word and building notoriety as the definitive guide to the city.
From 2011 to now, we’ve built an audience of devotees who trust in our recommendations. We have 1.2 million unique visitors per month and 300,000 social media fans. Not only do they trust our recommendations, they actively pursue them – more than 80% of readers try a suggestion we make at least once a month.
And don’t think it stops there. Those million readers are also sharing our tips with their own social networks – extending the reach, endorsement and influence of The Urban List far beyond the realms of our own audience base.
Content sample: Check out The Urban List on Facebook or Instagram for great examples of shareable social content….
Given that position, there’s no doubt that the influence and engagement we’ve built with our social media audience is one of the strongest assets for The Urban List as a brand.
The entire population of the cities we exist in – Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane – is about 10 million, with just under two million in the target demographic: men and women aged 25-45 with a high income. We talk to 50% of them every single month, which equates to over 100,000 engagements each day. If I’m a business or a brand, and I’ve got an offering that appeals to this demographic, I definitely want a piece of that.
- Video represents the wave of the future
Moving forward, as things get more competitive, the publishers that will come out on top are those that are nimble, humble, inquisitive, creative and above all, great listeners to their audience. Enter video; a medium that is quickly growing and is delivering results.
Video content is fast becoming imperative in any brand’s content strategy. And consequently, it’s an imperative in ours. With consumers 64% more likely to purchase a product after seeing it on film, and people watching three billion videos on Facebook every day, if you can’t deliver video content to your clients, or to your readers, you don’t deserve to have them.
In the U.S., 2015 marks the first year since the digital revolution that users are spending more time each day engaging with video rather than social media. If we use the last one hundred years as precedent, I think we can be confident that Australian audiences will be there very soon too.
Content sample: Check out this video, produced by The Urban List as part of The MINI Edition, in partnership with MINI….
A recent article I read sums up why I think it’s important to play in this space. For instance, the average adult now spends 55 more minutes watching digital video than they did in 2011. This has led to a media landscape that now sees users spending more time engaging with video in comparison to any other digital platform.
Susannah George is the Founder and Director of The Urban List.
Check out our interview with Susannah: The CMO Show: The sharing economy