GQ Places Major Bets on Instagram (and Wins)

One of the nation's glossiest print publications is a leader in making money on social media.
GQ Places Major Bets on Instagram (and Wins)
Image credit: Emma McIntyre | Getty Images
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Entrepreneurs have a thing or two to learn from GQ’s Instagram presence. Famous for its slick imagery, the Conde Nast’s publication decided to leverage its inherent asset on the hottest platform. They figured out a way to bring in major cash from “advertorials “of sorts. GQ charges some of the biggest brands to get a mention, or a placement, in their Instagram content. What worked particularly well is the fact that these advertorials look native. You would be hard-pressed to pinpoint exactly what content is sponsored and what isn’t.

 “We work closely with our sales team to identify partners who feel like a good fit for our Instagram audience and who can convey a marketing message through beautiful photography, which makes Instagram an ideal platform for brands ranging from men’s style to travel to liquor,” said Mike Hofman, GQ’s Executive Digital Director.

In 2016, Instagram brought in 7 percent of GQ’s total digital revenue and a whopping 70 percent of its social media revenue. The team, however, didn’t stop there and rest on laurels. They took that same approach to other platforms, like Facebook and Snapchat.

Because of their audience size and reach, Instagram also enabled GQ, along with some other verified profiles, to have live links in their Stories. The magazine quickly found use for the new feature and already produced “first shoppable Story” for Michael Kors.

We learn from this success.

Go all in to get money out.

GQ already mastered the platform, so they were simply looking for a way to monetize it. The magazine boasts the largest follower base on Instagram than any other platform. Clearly, it is easier to monetize larger audiences. Whether you are selling ad space, or buying it, numbers speak for themselves; and they can be a great leverage point for dictating prices.

Related: 8 Tips to Attract Your First 250K Instagram Followers

Leverage your core strengths.

GQ’s undeniable core strength lies in imagery. It’s haute, stylish and posh. The publication wouldn’t see nearly the same results they’ve seen if it weren’t for this imagery. For one, people wouldn’t recognize that same GQ they come to love and respect. But what’s more importantly, Instagram is the place for this core strength. So, not only GQ leveraged what was already great, they found a perfect match for it. You see amazing results when those two things happen: your expertise meets its perfect audience.

Related: How to Make Your Instagram Account Impressive

Create a proposition that feels right.

“We keep a close eye on what resonates well with our audience in terms of content and composition. We take those themes and apply them to sponsored Instagram posts so they don't seem too out of place within our feed. The last thing we want is a jarring, unpleasant experience for our followers. The ideal scenario is creating a post that's engaging and communicates the right message on behalf of the client while staying true to our ethos,” said John Lockett, GQ’s Engagement Editor.

Lockett also added: “Overall, the biggest tweak has been more collaboration between our editorial and business teams to deliver the highest quality product that appeals to our audience. We really made an effort in 2016 to offer creative input from the very beginning. That ranged from ideating concepts to sourcing photographers we've worked with in the past so that everything looks and feels like it belongs in the GQ universe. Engagement on branded posts has increased, and clients have been thrilled with how their campaigns have performed on social, so it's definitely a model that's working for us.”

Related: Why Instagram Won 2016 and Snapchat Didn't

The magazine made all the right moves in all the right places. This instance of success shows just how powerful and profitable your account can be even if you don’t sell your own product. Leverage your core strength on the right platform and watch the money roll in.