Nail the social media channel mix with Cosmopolitan Magazine 🍸

There are so many social media channels out there these day that we’re spoiled for choice. Also, if we’re not careful about where we focus our efforts and diligent enough to use each channel properly, we’re in danger of spreading ourselves and our brands too thinly and undermining our own work.

In short, you’ve got to get the social media channel mix just right. Just like Cosmopolitan Magazine, for example, who have millions of dedicated and loyal fans across their different profiles.

Our guest for this episode is Cosmo’s social media manager Lauren Smith, who joins me to offer her wisdom on nailing that potentially difficult mix. We talk about reaching millions of people on Snapchat Discover, about why Facebook is still a vital channel for Cosmo and why their Instagram feed might just contain more memes and #foodporn that would expect.

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Show notes

Lauren Smith is the social media manager for Cosmopolitan Magazine. You can find her on LinkedIn and follow her on Twitter.

When it comes to social media, Cosmopolitan has plenty of followers! They’ve got 2.3 million fans on Facebook, over 680,000 followers on Pinterest, 337,000 followers on Instagram, 371,000 followers on Twitter, over 9,000 subscribers on YouTube and – as part of Snapchat Discover – they can reach around 500 million people per month. Their main focus is the same as the magazine’s – millennial women – so roughly the 18-35 age group.

In Lauren’s role, she only looks after organic social media.

For Cosmo, Facebook is still absolutely a useful channel – it’s still their biggest social traffic referrer. They share a lot of links, as well as around three videos a day and lots of memes. In terms of how often Cosmo posts on Facebook, it really depends on what’s going on in the news each day.

Our social strategy has always been about building a loyal community and fostering engagement – especially with the way the algorithms have changed, if your content isn’t being engaged with then no-one will see it. In my head it’s always been engagement first, and the traffic will follow.

Moving onto Instagram, the majority of Cosmo’s content is actually memes and tangible content – rather than the glossy, aspirational images one might usually associate with a magazine. This is partly because Cosmo’s brand is big on having a sense of humour and also because Instagram is a crowded space for magazines, so the memes actually make them stand out.

In fact, most of the ‘high-end’ images on Cosmo’s feed is actually #foodporn – handily, Lauren is quite into looking at food porn anyway, so sourcing those images and posts is quite easy. They also use a tool called CrowdTangle to help find posts that are going viral.

We don’t base our strategy around algorithm changes, it’s more about how can we stand out as a brand and how can we stay true to ourself as a brand. Our audience is hungry for a mix of content from us.

Since Instagram Stories has become so popular, Cosmo has really embraced them – usually posting to their story around 10 times per day. It’s become a really great source of traffic for them.

When it comes to Snapchat, Cosmo is in a fortunate position as it is part of the group of elite brands that make up Snapchat Discover. They’ve been on there since 2015 and have built up some incredible numbers.

Not only that, it’s allowed Cosmo to reach a whole generation of women they might not have otherwise reached as a brand.

There’s a story our magazine editor likes to tell; she’ll be at an event and teenage girls will come up to her and say ‘oh, I didn’t know Cosmopolitan was a magazine’ because they’ve discovered us as a brand through Snapchat Discover. For that generation, that’s the way things are.

The engagement on Snapchat has also been incredibly rewarding; over 60% of Cosmo’s audience comes back to their editions at least three times a week. It’s a big audience, but it’s also a very engaged and loyal audience.

On Snapchat Discover, your content has to work harder than on other channels – you really have to think about the mechanics of Discover and embrace the playful nature of how you can present your content on there.

No social network is easy. There isn’t a quick-win; you’ve got to know your audience, you’ve got to spend time testing stuff out.

Cosmo treats each channel differently and makes the effort to post appropriate content on each space. And, their audiences react well to this mix. They would also know if Cosmo weren’t making the effort on each platform.

Having said that, Cosmo does definitely worth cross-platform – particularly cross-posting memes or repurposing video content.

We have a cross-platform approach for topics – that cross-platform element is always in our heads.

Lauren’s top three tips for nailing the social media channel mix

Find your USP on the platforms you’re on – what makes you stand out as a brand?

Stay true to yourself and your brand

Don’t be afraid to adapt


5 apps on your phone you use the most

The obvious social media apps plus Fitbit, Natural Cycles, City Mapper and Touch Note.

4 people you’d like to invite round for dinner

Chrissy Teigen, Ru Paul, Graham Norton and Helen Mirren.

3 words to describe what it’s like working for Cosmopolitan Magazine

Fun, educational and inspirational.

2 places/events in the world you’d really love to visit but haven’t been able to yet

Austin, Texas and New Zealand.

1 social media platform you love more than any of the others

It’s impossible to pick! My dad would pick Instagram though!

Find out more

Lauren Smith is the social media manager for Cosmopolitan Magazine. You can find her on LinkedIn and follow her on Twitter.

Thanks to #ASDIE18

The Native Podcast is brought to you by ASDIE, the Annual Summit for Digital Innovation in Education, which takes place in London on Thursday 19 July. Book your ticket now, and use the code POD10 to get a 10% discount!


The Native Podcast is hosted and produced by Dave Musson, our editor-in-chief.

Our music is by Broke For Free and is used under Creative Commons.

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