The Atlantic’s social media strategy

Students visiting The Atlantic. Photo by Sandy Suh.

In November 1857, a group of writers, including Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, gathered to publish the first issue of The Atlantic Monthly, a print magazine. One hundred and fifty five years later, The Atlantic faces the challenge of re-imagining itself in a world where news travels at the speed of light and social networking controls the flow of information.

Instead of ignoring the trend toward social media, The Atlantic has embraced it. In 2009, the magazine joined Facebook, closely followed by the formation of its Twitter page the same year. The Atlantic also has a Tumblr page, which was created in late June 2008.

Its sister network, The Atlantic Wire, a website that collects and condenses news from other sources, also has a Facebook page, which was created in September 2009. It tweets frequently on its Twitter page with up to 40 posts daily.

The magazine has spent recent years focused on remodeling itself as digital media becomes more relevant. By engaging in popular social networking sites, The Atlantic strives to reach out to a larger audience and gain maximum exposure for both the website and magazine.

“The biggest challenge for The Atlantic is to figure out how we can keep growing TheAtlantic.com,” said John Gould, Deputy Editor of TheAtlantic.com.

As readers gravitate toward digital media, The Atlantic attempts to reach them on a variety of digital platforms.

The magazine’s Twitter page frequently posts article headlines and links to The Atlantic‘s stories. With more than 100,000 followers, the magazine’s Twitter page encourages followers to visit Atlantic’s website or buy the current issue to see the articles mentioned in the tweets. The Atlantic also posts exclusive content on its website that is not available in the magazine, which draws more attention to its works.

“Nothing is faster than Twitter,” Gould said.

The magazine also uses Twitter to gain immediate access to breaking news and story ideas by using trending topics to learn about the general public’s interests.

In addition, The Atlantic has embraced Facebook, with about 108,000 likes on its page. On this page, the magazine usually posts questions, followed by a link to a corresponding article from The Atlantic. This method attracts visitors to its site, because posting questions enables the comment section below to become a discussion board where readers post their opinions. The Facebook page also includes recent photographs and funny posts, echoing the light-hearted nature of this page.

The most important aspect of the Facebook page is the number of shares each post receives. By sharing a page, fans of The Atlantic‘s page  link the magazine’s post to their personal Facebook wall. This allows all of his or her friends to see this link, which brings even more traffic in for the magazine.

“The way digital media moves around is by people deciding it’s cool and sharing it,” Gould said.

On its Tumblr page, the magazine posts recent graphics and photos from its In Focus Gallery with links to The Atlantic and The Atlantic Wire‘s websites.

All of The Atlantic‘s social media websites are edited by a social media editor, which ensures that each site doesn’t overload visitors with the same information on multiple sites. According to Gould, social media currently drives more internet traffic than anything else, making it a vital tool to the success of the magazine.

When the magazine was created, its mission became to be “the organ of no party or clique.” Just as The Atlantic strives to reflect a variety of opinions, it also uses a variety of platforms for people to access its content. By embracing social media, The Atlantic can fully execute its mission statement.