Social media
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Using social media can be a powerful tool in not only interacting with online communities, but also gaining a greater understanding of their current interests.

This was approach taken by De Agostini, the publisher of Cake Decorating magazine. In fact, chief executive of the company Alessandro Belloni told the FIPP Congress today that the internet is "becoming the starting source of all our research".

Using the internet, in particular social media, to follow what people are talking about, helps publishers "discover trends", such as cake decorating.

"Cake design was already happening in the blogger community, on Facebook and Instagram," he explained. Having established the growing interest in this area, the publisher then sought "expertise from the outside".

Ahead of launch, the team focused on SEO, as well as producing promotional material and spreading the world on social media platforms.

This included setting up a Facebook page, the UK version of which appears to have almost 120,000 likes. Belloni said across the Facebook pages for all countries, the count totals more than 500,000. It also has a Pinterest board with more than 4,400 pins, more than 5,500 likes and 9,200 followers.

The magazine website also features an online gallery and an online shop, where readers can buy accessories to complement the magazine subject. Following launch, the magazine also released a free 'rate my cake' app to encourage further interactions between brand and reader, and a YouTube channel features video tutorials.

The magazine launched in the UK in March last year, and has since been launched in a total of 17 countries.

Belloni said there was "immediate interactivity from the readers", who were "uploading thousands of videos, comments and photos". He added that Facebook in particular "was the perfect platform for executing this strategy".

In the UK, the magazine has sold 110,000 subscriptions, Belloni said, with 85 per cent of said to be "coming from the web". He added that more than 70 per cent of revenues were from subscriptions.

The magazine also sold 640,000 copies of the first issue on newsstands.

He explained that 25 per cent of the magazine's website users are on mobile devices, adding this is "becoming a very important platform".

"We're learning more about how to capitalise on that."

Returning to the role played by Facebook in helping to support the magazine's launch, Belloni said 30 to 40 per cent of those who liked the Facebook page went on to become "unique users of the website". He added that 2 to 5 per cent of those converted to subscriptions.

"So not only did Facebook play a very important role in terms of content sharing, and also user-generated conent, but also we were monetising it," he told

He added that a new global digital team is "overseeing all the analytics", and they are "learning how to track" this data and "work with the various agenecies in order to understand what will be the result of a multi-touch campaign".

In his presentation, Belloni added that the company is now "negotiating for a TV programme based on cake decorating techniques", he said.

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