Hearst’s Latest Social Launch: A Redbook App For Father’s Day

Hearst is best known as print publisher, but this year its digital arm has been making a big push into social media. Its latest effort is a Father’s Day themed Facebook app for Redbook magazine.

In order to use the Father’s Day app, people need to “like” the Redbook Facebook page. Once you’ve done that, you can bring up a list of all the dads in your network. Then you can post a Father’s Day message to any of their Facebook Walls, and optionally, on yours too.

I was a little surprised to see the app coming from Redbook, which targets young married women — not necessarily the first audience I’d think of when it comes to celebrating Father’s Day. However, Brian Madden, director of social at Hearst Digital Media, points out that the emphasis is on thanking not just your father, but all the dads you know, whether it’s your husband, your brother, your uncle, or whomever. He also says this is a way for Redbook to leverage its fans to get into “the feeds of other like-minded women.”

While I was interested in hearing about the Redbook app, I also wanted to get an update on Hearst’s general social strategy. Apparently Madden’s team was just created in February, and it’s focusing on two main strategies — increasing social sharing from Hearst websites, while also creating social network-specific experiences to engage fans.

“The philosophy right now is to make sure that we have social strategies that pay,” says VP of Digital Grant Whitmore. “And when I say pay, I don’t necessarily mean in a monetary sense. We know that our social strategy can’t just be about counts of fans and followers, but it has to be tied to some measurable engagement.”

When it comes to measurable engagement Hearst says the numbers are going up. In the first quarter of the year, on-site sharing was up 74 percent, and in April, Facebook drove a record 2 million visits to Hearst site. During that month, the reach of Hearst publications’ Facebook posts and pages also increased 30 percent compared to March.