I like the moniker; I like believing that Ode readers and subscribers are informed, invested and involved in changing our world through their combined efforts. I think of Ode as a young, progressive organization and I expected this attitude to be reflected in its use of social media. After a quick review, however, I am disappointed with the scope of its engagement thus far.
Ode’s website mirrors the look and feel of the original print publication, with a bold, colorful design. The home page features teasers to recent magazine articles, blog posts and tweets and the navigation bar includes familiar icons for linking to Ode profiles on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, as well as subscribing to RSS feeds and Ode’s online newsletter.
On the surface, the magazine seems to be in all the right places. But upon further review, Ode’s level of engagement with its readers appears limited; it seems to be failing at establishing two-way conversation—a crucial ingredient in successful social media campaigns.
Ode hosts three separate blogs: Blog, written exclusively by founder Jurriaan Kamp; People, Passion, Possibilities, written by a staff of 25 bloggers; and Exchange, written by readers. Gauging by the scarcity of comments, none of the blogs have been very successful at engaging readers—either with the publication or with each other. Could having three separate blogs be an issue?
Ode’s Facebook presence tells a similar story. Ode has only 9,124 fans—a relatively small number for a 12-year-old magazine that claims a worldwide readership of over 100,000. The page is not very busy, with only four or five posts per day. The good news, however, is that Ode replies to several readers and creates a warm and friendly persona.
Just over 9,000 people follow Ode on Twitter. (Could these be the same 9,000 Facebook fans?) The positive sign here is that Ode follows almost as many people (8,750). On the downside, however, the tweets don’t seem to offer anything more than links to Ode articles; only one or two were in response to a reader. Establishing a two-way conversation with its readers seems to be taking a back seat to Ode’s self-promotion--a definite no-no in the world of social media.
Back to Basics
My final assessment would be that Ode magazine is cognizant of the potential for social networking and wants to build an online community. Right now though, it seems unable to really engage its audience or to create a unique presence using social media. It looks as though Ode hasn’t answered some strategic questions, such as
- Why are we building an online community?
- What will people do there?
- Who will be the caretaker and how can we spark conversation?
- How are we going to be involved; what is our role in this new community?
Ode must understand that its current social media strategy is falling short. I’m afraid if it doesn’t answer these basic questions and step up its involvement, the window of opportunity to engage its readers may close.