How do you maintain Playboy’s unique voice, outlook and culture across so many disparate media, from print and video, to Facebook and Twitter?
It’s a challenge to ensure that all of our mouthpieces are aligned in terms of voice, tone and messaging. Back in the day, the magazine was it.
Each of these platforms must stick to the brand’s identity and [they] are constantly monitored to make sure they’re on-brand and in line with Hef’s vision and our editorial director’s ideas.
That said, each platform communicates and publishes differently and may also have separate audiences, so the way they represent/interpret the brand may differ slightly.
What’s the goal of Playboy’s social media activity, and how do you measure success?
We have a number of goals in social media. First, building celebrity for our Playmates and models. Years ago TV was the only way for a Playmate to make the major step from centrefold to household name. Pamela Anderson and Jenny McCarthy are prime examples, but since we know that every Playmate with some charisma and a story to tell isn’t going to end up on TV, social media is the way to grow their audience.
Each new Playmate goes through our social media training and is introduced to our fan base (5 million+ on Facebook, 250,000 on Twitter) when her issue comes out. Within days she’ll have a thriving fan base of her own and we’ll work with her to create content and identify digital influencers to interact with. There are over 90 Playmates actively using Facebook and Twitter with a combined following of over 2 million, giving Playboy the sexiest army of digital brand advocates in the world.
Second, increasing engagement with our fan base beyond the pages of the magazine. We create specific content franchises for each platform in order to properly use each channel and not just post content for the sake of having a presence on a certain site.
Third, generating revenue. A few years ago, managing social media for a brand was mainly focused on growth, engagement, listening or some other buzz term. Monetizing was a nice-to-have but certainly not a primary objective.
Now once we reach a certain scale, revenue is a must in order to justify the existence of jobs like mine, right? True success in this space is quantifiable.
How would you describe the quintessential Playboy reader, and have your perceptions of him or her changed as you’ve engaged with readers online?
In terms of our social media audience, it spans beyond just the obvious, which is the guy who appreciates beautiful women.
Some of the other types we see include people that love the brand and its history, women that became fans after watching The Girls Next Door on E!, women who are aspiring Playmates, and people in search of men’s entertainment and lifestyle content.
We all know that Top 10 lists and sexy photo galleries are good for traffic, but Playboy has made its reputation on long-form articles and in-depth interviews. How do you attract eyeballs without sacrificing the quality of your content?
It’s important for us to recognize that there are many different types of people that come to Playboy.com via many different entry points. For example, if someone gets to the site to check out the latest Playmate, how can we make them aware that there’s a great interview or gaming feature they’d be interested in?
Or if they got to Playboy.com from a site that linked to an interview, how can we keep them on site to enjoy the eye candy? The “link-bait” may bring in more visitors, but the “long form” is what will build a true audience for a site.
With the Playboy mansion, you guys were pioneers in extending the “magazine experience” into the real world. Do you think being involved with things like events and nightclubs is an increasingly important part of what it means to be a magazine in the 21st century?
Absolutely. Playboy allows consumers to interact with the brand and experience the Playboy lifestyle through parties and experiences at the Playboy Clubs. In 2006, we opened a multi-faceted entertainment venue in Las Vegas. More recently, we’ve opened Playboy Clubs in London, Cancun and Macau and look forward to continuing the expansion.
The Playboy brand has always been representative of “the good life” and we have always offered exclusive opportunities to enjoy that good life via nightclubs, parties and special events.
Playboy.com features a mix of free content and premium stuff. Do you think you’ve struck the right balance between the “open web” and “walled garden” approaches to online content?
Playboy has a number of web properties that aim to reach different audiences. Playboy.com includes a mix of girl features, entertainment stories and longer articles.
The Smoking Jacket, Playboy’s safe-for-work site, includes shorter posts, lists, “quick hits” that you’d want to pass along to your friends, and non-nude girl features. Playboy’s subscription sites offer extended girl content.
Our sites aim to attract different readers and viewers; we work to give fans a variety of content, both free and paid.
When people think of Playboy, they obviously think of your founder, Hugh Hefner. How have you brought Hef’s considerable legacy and personality into the online space?
Hef is extremely active on Twitter and it has become a part of his daily routine. People always ask if it’s really him, and it is Hef on his iPad from the Playboy Mansion. A lot of his tweets are answering fan questions, good or bad, so Twitter truly is an engagement platform for him.
Photos courtesy of Playboy