By Heather Carney, managing editor of Gulfstream Media Group

As a leading publisher of luxury, city/regional lifestyle magazines for 50 years, Gulfstream Media Group knows what it takes to make a magazine, and a company last. But despite all that experience, it’s no surprise that the digital age has challenged our company, and many others as well.

Rather than run from social media, Gulfstream has embraced the world of online publishing, as well as social media promotion and branding. It started as trial and error. We made a lot of mistakes. But overtime, it gradually transformed into a growing and successful experience for our team. We’re excited that our content reaches a larger audience, and so are our advertisers.


So here are a few things that helped us along the way:

1. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. We experimented for weeks with the best time of day to post (the morning seems to give us the best traction); whether to post a link directly from our site, from our digital edition or to post a link using a shortened Bitly link (posting a link directly from our site was the winner); and with whether to include a photo or not (we realized that photos almost always help). But this took time, and luckily our management wasn’t scolding us when one post didn’t go over as well as we had hoped.

2. Keep it relatable. As much as we try to reach a larger audience, content works because people can relate to it. We have found the content that receives the best reaction is hyper-local and focuses on a specific market, whether that’s Fort Lauderdale, Boca, etc. Something that goes over well in Fort Lauderdale, might tank in Boca.

3. Tap into additional resources. Curating online content, editing posts, scheduling posts on Facebook, and finding relevant and engaging photos all takes time. We have worked with enthusiastic, creative and knowledgeable part-time employees and interns to help us through this process. We have a small team, so finding the time to focus on digital rather than print was a challenge, and still is. Everyone should be chipping in. This isn’t a one-man job, unless you’re able to dedicate a whole position (or team) to social media.

4. Find the platform that works best for your audience. We have Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest accounts, but we’ve focused most of our efforts on Facebook because that is the platform that gives us the most traction. It doesn’t mean we ignore the other accounts, but we have to prioritize. Otherwise, our efforts are stretched too thin across all platforms.

5. Keep learning. Social Media is always changing, whether it’s the algorithms, the hashtags, or the way an audience perceives a certain platform. As soon as you find a sweet spot, something changes and you’re back to square one. Don’t get frustrated. You must be willing to learn about the changes, and change your strategy as a result. It’s an evolving and fluid process.
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Heather Carney is a graduate of the University of Miami and is originally from North Potomac, Md. She joined Gulfstream Media Group in 2014 after starting her journalism career at the Naples Daily News and the South Florida Sun Sentinel. As managing editor at Gulfstream, her duties include overseeing the editorial content for each issue, working with writers and photographers, editing stories, and managing the company's online content and social media platforms. In her free time, Heather loves exploring art festivals, trying new restaurants, finding a good happy hour and testing out new running trails. During college football season, you’ll find Heather cheering on the Miami Hurricanes every Saturday at Sun Life Stadium.