Being the only Vogue Living title in the world has its advantages. “It means we do punch above our weight. There are fans in Australia and all around the world,” editor Neale Whitaker told Mediaweek.
The NewsLifeMedia premium title has the biggest following on Facebook in Australia in the news and magazines category, according to the Annual Facebook Performance report by Online Circle Digital. (Read more about the report here)
“It’s simple. We are producing beautiful imagery, and as we know from Instagram, Pinterest and all social media these days, people just love looking at beautiful images. It’s not an unusual or complex formula,” Whitaker said.
“It’s fair to say we know our audience very well – we know what they like. We are quite particular about what we post. We do a lot of editing before we post anything. So there is a high degree of editing and curating. We are very focused on it. For the last 12 months – certainly ever since I’ve been here – there’s been a lot of focus on growing our social media profile and our online presence.”
The one thing Whitaker plans to invest on in the near future is more video content.
“I am a very huge fan of video. I want to do more. Obviously video is something all publishers, not just news, have to think very carefully about because there is a cost of producing high quality video,” he said.
“I love the engagement we get from video, and we absolutely killed it with the Miranda Kerr video we did a few months ago.
“That was very, very exciting. I mean the Miranda Kerrs don’t come along every day.”
Is getting more star power for video content on Facebook on the agenda for Vogue Living?
“We are not actively chasing celebrities. Having said that, it’s a really interesting phenomenon that celebrities are putting more and more emphasis on their homes. Taylor Swift is a very good example of a celebrity who has a substantial property portfolio back in the States, and is known for engaging top designers to do her home. That is happening more and more. In the future, you are quite right to see Vogue Living and see a beautiful celebrity home,” Whitaker said. “If they come our way, then great, but we are not actively chasing them. What we do chase are beautiful homes in Australia and all around the world. It doesn’t matter to us who owns them.”
Speaking about how the success of its online properties brushes off on the Vogue Living title, Whitaker said: “There is no doom and gloom for us in magazines. Vogue Living is a very strong title. Next year we are celebrating our 50th birthday. We are in a very strong position.
“The print magazine has a more mature audience. Obviously, there is a very different audience between online and print. That is as it should be, we are perfectly happy with that. We are still producing the print magazine, the mothership, for a very dedicated, very loyal, mature and engaged audience, who still have that love affair with print and paper. We are talking about my generation. There is no doom and gloom in that premium and prestige end of the market.
“The exciting thing for us is all the other possibilities that have now opened up with all the brand extensions.
“As the editor-in-chief, I now feel like I am the editor-in-chief of a brand, not just a magazine. The channels that are now available to us are very, very exciting and stimulating.”
Lifestyle and home magazines are holding up relatively well in print and circulation figures. Asked why that is, Whitaker speculated on a number of reasons including the popularity of reality renovation shows like The Block and House Rules.
“Since the financial crash in 2009, there has been an upsurge in interest for anything to do with home. You can include food and cooking in that too. For a long time, people stopped investing in properties the way they used to before the crash. What they started doing instead is looking at ways they improve their homes – anything from a full scale renovation to buying a new set of cushions.
“It was about ‘what can I do to improve my home without having to invest huge amounts of money or buy a property or sell a property?’ That gave a real spike to magazines across the whole home sector. Second, as a direct result of that, television started producing more home-based shows like The Block and House Rules. All of a sudden there was a whole growth in reality with Selling Houses Australia on Foxtel, and that has educated the audience. There is a whole new audience out there now, who feel passionate about the home the way they didn’t used to.
“That has grown the audience for home magazines. It affects all of us, from Homes+ at one end of the scale, right through to Vogue Living on the other end of the scale.”