In this week’s episode we hear from LADbible Group’s Operations Lead Jake Strong-Jones on how the group’s verticals make best use of social platforms. He works with teams across the business on new launches, distribution strategy and operations, as well as the content strategy and insights on LADbible Group’s social platforms.

He takes us through everything from how they go about making discerning use of platforms to find new audiences, how its use of TikTok allows it to reach two-thirds of adults in the UK, and what trends the group is keeping an eye on over the next 12 months.

How publishers have approached social media platforms over the past year will be one of the chapters we explore as part of our upcoming Media Moments 2023 report. Find out more and pre-register for the report here.

Here are some highlights from the episode:

How LADbible Group has evolved

LADbible Group is a lot of well-known brands. We have LADbible, Tyla, which is women-focused, we have FOODbible for everything food-related, Furry Tales for all your animals and pets’ needs! We’ve got a massive, massive range of top-performing brands that are publishing all the time. We’ve also just gone and acquired Betches, which is a wonderful fit for the company, and very excited to see what we can build there over the coming years.

So the company is not what it was when it launched. When it launched it was much more about, can we grow? Can we scale? Can we bring these people in? But it’s been 10 years, we’ve got nearly 500 people in the company, we’re across every social platform. It’s absolutely enormous. As a company and the work we do, we are some of the biggest Facebook pages overall, and in a lot of really important verticals. So we have a lot of scale.

And we have a really, really diverse audience, but they’re not just people who subscribe to us. They’re also people who we’re very experienced at finding through the recommendation algorithms. We go where the people are, and we publish what we know that they are interested in seeing.

Seeking out audiences

We have a panel in house called LADnation, which is a youth-focused panel, which is really, really helpful for us getting quick insights that are really, really high quality in terms of our audience; who’s out there, what they want, what they’re looking for, and where they’re being underserved.

We’re also there using all sorts of social listening tools. We’re reading the numbers; we’re very, very data savvy and data-lead, in terms of which verticals we think we need to explore and where we need to double down.

But also the number of brands we have is enormous – we have a lot of core brands. And with those core brands and the scale we have across them, we already have a lot of this data. We know who’s engaging, we know what they’re engaging with directly across what we’re publishing. But we also test enormously, like it’s nonstop. We know that if something’s doing well, double down on it, absolutely commit, because in this world, the platforms change fast. Their algorithms change fast.

It means you have to be ready to pivot, but also ready to commit. And that means you’re not just doing one thing. You’re also in the background, you’re aware of what might be shifting, you’re aware of why these platforms might be [courting] creators or audiences or publishers in a particular way, because you need to make sure that you’re leaning into that. Otherwise, you’re going to miss the boat.

LADbible’s success on TikTok

So TikTok’s biggest strength has to be its recommendation algorithm, which it got first. It absolutely nailed how to personalise content feeds for its audience. And it has such a broad audience, much broader than you often think.

We know that the other platforms have spent a lot of time catching up, they’ve been investing heavily in how content is served and how it’s personalised. And we’re seeing this across Reels, across YouTube Shorts and elsewhere. But TikTok were the first ones to really force that change and make sure that everyone else caught up.

For us, it has to be a place that we are engaging a really young audience. We have a young audience across our platforms absolutely. But it’s a really, really important one for us, just to make sure that we are at the cutting edge, that things that we publish completely land. But we’re making sure that as we tailor for TikTok, as we work with them and keep publishing on there, that we keep seeing a return.

Deciding which platforms to focus on

There are so many places you can spend your time and spend your energies learning. I think if you are a small team, if you are working in a big company, but there’s 1, 2, 3 of you having to manage every platform, you just don’t have time. And so you have to go where you’re going to see the biggest returns.

But if you’re a publisher – and this is again, where we have the benefit of the 500 people [at LADbible Group] – we are doing so much in so many places, then we’re able to leverage that expertise and leverage those teams to make sure that you really can go in all those sort of relevant opportunities. Because, yes, they will change, yes, they’ll grow. And you don’t have an unlimited amount of time. But if you have content, if you’re creating things, it’s a small amount of extra effort to increase the distribution opportunities that you’re really experimenting with.

I think that’s where you need the time to try it. But also, if you’re creating the content, if you have that in-house already, you’ve won half the battle. You’ve done the most difficult bit. And then you just need to figure out how these platforms work by posting and by looking at the results and remaining in the data.

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