The Aud Dev Digest / July 27, 2021

Three things and a tweet / Today’s is short and sweet

Samantha Zabell
3 min readJul 27, 2021

This week, a WSJ article is making the rounds, but the Twitter conversation is arguably more interesting/important than the piece. Also, Substack continues to grow and The New Yorker has a game that’s the perfect blend of trivia and snark. Let’s go!

1️⃣ Here’s a quote that made me nod vigorously: “There’s still this idea that every­one uses so­cial me­dia, so it must be easy.” Credit to Alana Visconti, social media marketing at Verizon and supreme truth-teller.

Maybe now we can finally agree that it is not easy and it is not a one-person job and it is not normal to have one of the most impactful departments at a company also be the lowest-paid? And let me be clear on one more thing (which many people are echoing across Twitter): I do not think that there should be any sort of master’s requirement involved in getting a job in social media. Instead, those departments should be better-staffed and -resourced, and we should trust that young professionals who are embedded in social day and night know how to develop meaningful, impactful strategies. Some more eloquent thoughts from Lainna Fader on this, or look at the quote tweets from this reply! Full story at WSJ:

2️⃣ Substack makes a major podcast investment with the launch of Booksmart Studios. I think I’m really curious to check in with Substack in a year, after the advances are spent and the revenue share becomes much more significant. Will creators still see value in the work without the same level of income? Will readers/listeners hit a point of “content burnout” with all of these individual subscriptions? What does a Substack bundle look like when it includes newsletters, audio, and all of the bells and whistles that each promises paying subscribers? How long does “bonus content” remain a compelling reason to pay, and how often do readers actually consume said bonus content? (Actually, that last question is the most interesting to me, pretend that’s the first one I asked). More details on Substack’s audio launch from Axios:

3️⃣ The New Yorker created a new quiz product called “Name Drop” and it is an absolutely brilliant play at engagement and loyalty. A lot has been written about how games are a smart retention tool, and I admire the NYer team for creating one that is so uniquely their brand and voice.

It demonstrates real understanding of the New Yorker audience, from the type of quiz they’d find interesting, to the amount of time they’d be willing to spend, to the language that will keep them trying and trying again (I played a few times and couldn’t score more than 2–3 points, and the Quiz Master persona was kind of snarky about it, which made me want to keep playing). Even more interesting — how the team is thinking about the paywall and continued reader engagement through games:

After an initial trial period, Name Drop will fall behind The New Yorker paywall, and each game will count as one article read. (The New Yorker lets unsubscribed readers access four free articles a month.)

When possible, the quiz will link to a New Yorker profile of the character whose identity was in question. With the curiosity of the reader theoretically primed by the teasing questions, they will be likelier to read the article, the thinking goes.

Read more from Mark Stenberg in Adweek:

This week’s tweet is both timely and made me actually laugh out loud. Audience editors will get it.



Samantha Zabell

Audience development strategist, previously at Medium, Time Inc., Real Simple