Warner Bros. Discovery’s Thriving Journey into Social Media Monetization


In an electrifying revelation at the Digiday Publishing Summit, Rashidah Bashir, the Director of Editorial and Audience Development at Warner Bros. Discovery, unveiled their groundbreaking strategy for tapping into the wealth of social media platforms to engage audiences and boost revenues.

Heading: Unleashing the Power of YouTube and Threads

Year after year, the revenue stream from YouTube has surged, reaching double-digit growth. Bashir’s inspiring presentation showcased how the magic happened. By dedicating themselves to crafting tailor-made video content for YouTube and consistently posting up to four times a week, Warner Bros. Discovery witnessed unprecedented revenue growth.

While YouTube spearheads ad revenue, Facebook and Instagram have emerged as surprising champions in referral traffic and engagement. Carousel posts and videos, in particular, have set the stage on fire, igniting likes, comments, and shares galore.

But the real surprise comes from Threads, the budding star in the social media constellation. Despite its infancy, Threads outshines even the mighty X (formerly known as Twitter) in user engagement.

Recent reports from Digiday indicated a sharp decline in referral traffic from X to publishers’ websites over the past year, a trend mirrored by Warner Bros. Discovery. Despite Elon Musk’s $44 billion acquisition last October, the engagement rate per follower took a 40% dip and hasn’t yet fully recovered. Consequently, Bashir’s team adopted a “keeping the lights on” approach for X, focusing on engagement-driven posts and stepping back from link posts that weren’t pulling their weight.

Bashir remained unfazed by this decline, emphasizing that X contributed a mere 0.1% of their referral traffic. Her focus remains firmly on other promising avenues.

HGTV, a Warner Bros. Discovery brand, refrains from promoting paid media content on X, citing concerns about the negative comments they attract. This cautious approach has led the HGTV team to shift their resources towards Meta’s newest social platform, Threads, with impressive results.

In its first week on Threads, HGTV amassed 270,000 followers, equivalent to 5% of its Instagram audience. The engagement rate per follower on Threads skyrocketed to 36 times that of X, even with fewer posts. Despite a slight drop in user activity since Threads’ July launch, HGTV continues to gain new followers, now totaling 370,000.

A comparison test between X and Threads revealed a resounding victory for Threads, with a fivefold increase in total engagement. Warner Bros. Discovery isn’t alone in reaping the rewards of Threads; other publishers, like BDG’s The Dad, have experienced similar success.

Threads’ youthful exuberance has allowed Warner Bros. Discovery to experiment with a fresher, more contemporary brand voice compared to other social platforms. They’re sharing memes, celebrity images, and thought-provoking questions to engage users and solicit valuable feedback.

However, while Threads holds immense promise, Bashir noted that there’s been no word from Meta regarding future monetization options or analytics for publishers.

In Bashir’s words, “Threads won’t replace X. What makes X special is its hint of anger, and Threads is simply too nice for X enthusiasts.”

This article clarifies that Bashir’s discussion centered on HGTV’s audience development strategy, not Warner Bros. Discovery as a whole. Additionally, HGTV’s YouTube posting frequency was clarified as up to four times a week, not five.

Warner Bros. Discovery’s Thriving Journey into Social Media Monetization

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