Journalist Spotlight | Interview with Scott Purcell and Frank Arthur, co-founders of Man of Many
Today, Medianet is joined by Scott Purcell and Frank Arthur, co-founders of Australia’s largest men’s lifestyle site, Man of Many. In the interview, they provide the insights and strategies Man of Many has utilised in order to thrive in a rapidly changing digital landscape.
Can you tell me a bit about how Man of Many was conceived? What were your initial objectives in creating a publication catering to men’s lifestyle/interest and how have they evolved?
Man of Many was conceived as a response to a noticeable gap in the Australian market for a comprehensive men's lifestyle platform. Our initial objectives were to curate and share products and topics we were passionate about, particularly in technology, finance, whisky, fitness, and lifestyle. This project quickly evolved from a part-time hobby into Australia's largest men's lifestyle site. Over the years, our objectives have grown not just to showcase curated products but also to be the leader in providing quality content, innovative strategies, and a commitment to authenticity and independence.
As a cross-platform publication, how does Man of Many determine which content to delegate to which platform/s?
At Man of Many, the process of determining content delegation across various platforms is a strategic and data-driven endeavour. This process is rooted in a deep understanding of our audience, achieved through collaborative efforts like partnering with Google's SHIFT News Consumer Insights and conducting comprehensive Reader Engagement Audits. These initiatives help us recognize evolving digital habits thereby allowing us to harness the power of social media more effectively.
Our approach is bolstered by leveraging surveys and tracking reader behaviours through tools like Google Analytics and Google’s NCI Shift tags, allowing for enhanced data collection and insightful analysis. Key findings from our research have been instrumental in shaping our content strategy. For instance, we discovered that 72% of our content is shared via "Dark Traffic", surpassing social networks, which are at 28%. This insight emphasises the importance of creating content that encourages sharing through direct and personal channels. We also noted that limited mobile attention spans require innovative reader retention strategies. Videos on our site have significantly increased user retention by 88% as well as ad revenue.
A crucial observation was the 10% drop in Gen Z news consumption, highlighting the need for more compelling content to engage this demographic. We've also seen a shift in social media news consumption patterns, with platforms like YouTube, WhatsApp, Instagram, and TikTok becoming increasingly popular. Notably, TikTok has emerged as a news source for 1 in 10 Australians, aligning with the global average. Additionally, podcast usage in Australia exceeds the global average, and 56% of the population shows interest in positive stories.
Our response to these insights focused on two main pillars: Social & Short-Form Video Engagement, and On-Site Engagement and Audience Retention.
The results of this strategic focus have been phenomenal. In less than 12 months, our social following grew by 75%, reaching nearly 700,000 followers. This growth was accompanied by a staggering 1,230% increase in overall engagement levels. On Facebook alone, our engagement surged by 978%, a testament to our effective content and community strategies. On TikTok, where we concentrated our efforts on emerging trends and platform-specific content, we achieved significant milestones, growing our follower count to over 94,000 and accumulating more than 77 million video views within a year. These figures underscore the success of our engagement strategy and reflect the resonance of our content with the audience on these dynamic platforms.
This comprehensive and adaptive approach to content delegation across platforms is fundamental to our success. By analysing and understanding audience behaviours, preferences, and trends, we have effectively tailored our content. Our dedicated teams, and innovative strategies in social media and video production, have enabled us to create compelling, engaging content that retains our existing audience and attracts new followers, solidifying Man of Many's position as a leader in the men's lifestyle digital space.
In the third issue of MoM’s the Word - Man of Many’s newsletter - you’ve mentioned how native content is an edge that trusted publishers have over influencers. How does Man of Many ensure that their advertorials remain authentic and objective while promoting brands/branded content to their audience?
Man of Many upholds authenticity in advertorials through a meticulous and transparent approach. Our content creation is driven by expert journalists who specialise in crafting engaging and trustworthy material. To maintain our audience's trust, we ensure transparent disclosure of sponsored content, seamlessly integrating it with our consumer product-focused content strategy.
Our in-house planning and strategy team collaborates to deliver custom advertising initiatives and unique partnerships. This synergy results in premium content offerings, providing an exceptional opportunity to reach our discerning audience of enthusiasts, tastemakers, and influencers.
Adhering to our strict editorial policy, sponsorships undergo rigorous guidelines to ensure integrity, transparency, and accountability. Every piece of sponsored content and coverage requires approval from our editorial team, maintaining a clear distinction between sponsored and editorial material. We are committed to clear disclosure of advertising and sponsorship, ensuring material is unmistakably marked for transparency.
As a trusted source of product information and coverage, Man of Many dedicates itself to producing approachable, authoritative, and well-researched content. Our independence, funded through advertising sales on various platforms - including websites, apps, and social media - allows us the freedom to co-create content with sponsors or present their creations, which are always clearly labelled for transparency.
Our editorial team reviews all written advertising content, maintaining the right to reject, cancel, or remove ads for any reason. We prioritise our readers' interests, refusing any content that contradicts our ethics or editorial policy. Our ads, distinct from editorial content, are unambiguously identified.
Man of Many stands out for its commitment to being a premium, approachable, and independent voice in the media landscape. We are Australia's largest men's lifestyle site and a pioneer in sustainable media practices as the nation's first carbon-neutral publisher. Our credibility is bolstered by Australian Press Council memberships and ACMA registration, reflecting our dedication to ethical journalism and exceptional customer service.
Our journey, inspired by US publications and guided by our understanding of our audience, has evolved uniquely under the stewardship of our editor-in-chief, Nick Hall. This evolution reflects over a decade of hard work in building a sustainable media business that resonates with our audience and upholds our core values.
Man of Many emphasises on meaningful audience engagement with their content, the main metric of which is the time spent engaging with said content. But how does Man of Many navigate/utilise short form content production without sacrificing audience involvement?
Man of Many navigates short-form content by creating high-quality, engaging videos and posts tailored for platforms like TikTok and Instagram. Our dedicated team ensures these pieces foster community and discussion, enabling us to maintain deep audience engagement without compromising the value of our content.
For Social & Short-Form Video Engagement, we invested in a dedicated social and video production team to develop original, in-house short-form videos and platform-specific content and strategies. Our goal was to generate thought-provoking content that fosters discussion and community engagement. We embraced innovation in our engagement methods and traffic-driving mechanisms, capitalising on emerging short-form video platforms like TikTok and YouTube Shorts. For instance, our Australian Fashion Week vox pop video garnered over 3.5 million views, demonstrating the impact of our strategy. We produce up to 10 original videos weekly, using interactive techniques to drive website traffic and deepen our connection with our audience.
With new technologies like Google’s Search Generative Experience (SGE), how does Man of Many stand out in a saturated media landscape among other trusted publications?
In an era where digital landscapes are continually reshaped by advancements like Google’s Search Generative Experience (SGE), Man of Many distinguishes itself with a suite of unique selling propositions that resonate with our audience and the industry.
At the core of our identity is the blend of premium quality with an approachable demeanour. We pride ourselves on offering a high-end experience that remains grounded and relatable to our readers. This balance is central to our appeal and accessibility. Our proudly independent status fuels our ability to produce unique and unbiased content. This independence is not just a trait but a guiding principle, allowing us to create content that stands out in its originality and integrity. Recognition in the form of numerous awards like Best Media Platform at the B&T Awards or Website of the Year at the Mumbrella Publish Awards in 2023 underlines our commitment to excellence. These accolades are a testament to our hard work and dedication to the craft of digital publishing.
As Australia’s largest men's lifestyle publisher, we lead the market in reach and influence. This prestigious position underscores our ability to set trends and standards in the nation's men's lifestyle content domain. Our commitment to sustainability and social responsibility is exemplified by our status as Australia's first 100% carbon-neutral publisher. This commitment reflects our dedication to positively impacting society and the environment. Credibility and trustworthiness, as mentioned, are pillars of our brand. With over a decade in the industry, our memberships in prestigious organisations like ACMA and the Australian Press Council, and a team skilled in diverse fields, we have built an unparalleled level of credibility and authority.
Our role extends beyond publishing; we see ourselves as a full-service partner. With in-depth reporting, insightful analytics, and dedicated campaign managers, we provide exceptional customer service, ensuring a premium experience for every client.
Are there any new projects, ventures or content from Man of Many that we should keep an eye out for?
Man of Many is thrilled to announce some exciting new projects and ventures that our readers and peers should definitely keep an eye on. We're gearing up to launch an exclusive range of Man of Many merchandise, a step that symbolises our growth and connection with our audience. This merchandise isn't just a product line; it reflects our brand's ethos and commitment to the men's lifestyle domain.
Additionally, we're venturing into hosting events. These aren't just ordinary events; they're designed to bring us closer to our readers, creating opportunities for direct engagement and community building. These initiatives are pivotal in deepening our connection with our community and exploring innovative avenues within the men's lifestyle space.
This is an exhilarating time not only for us but also for our peers in the media industry. The landscape is ripe with opportunities with the rapid evolution of AI, the emergence of new social networks, and the shifting dynamics of personalization, subscriptions, and video content. Embracing these changes and continuously iterating our strategies is key to our success and growth.
Our mission is at the heart of everything we do to empower people to make positive investments in themselves and their communities. This guiding principle shapes all our initiatives. While we have achieved significant milestones, such as surpassing GQ Australia in Australian website traffic, our journey towards brand recognition and recall is ongoing. Our vision is to become a household name and a trusted authority in premium lifestyle content. Staying true to our values, we're confident in our path to achieving this goal and continuing to make an impact in the digital media world.
And lastly, what do you look for in content pitching?
In content pitching, we look for clarity and efficiency. I think providing all necessary information upfront, ideally in attachments, is key. As publishers and editors are often inundated with emails, concise communication supplemented with comprehensive information makes the process more efficient and effective. Our preference is for straightforward yet thorough pitches, minimising the need for back-and-forth communication.