There is no debate that the web forever changed the face of publishing. The greater question is how and there are a few answers beginning to emerge. As a publisher who is moving into to the digital world, it’s natural to think that you should simply convert the beauty, design and content of your print publication into a web version. But, what we’re learning is that it’s not print to digital, it’s print AND digital.

A recent panel of magazine executives (representing Time Inc., Hearst  and Conde Nast, to name a few) confirmed this notion when they participated in SXSW Interactive: Digital subscribers are typically new to the brand, while existing subscribers are provided with opportunities to enjoy both print and digital—and expand their relationship with the brand. For these publishers, it’s more about a growth opportunity than a transition.

How do you make the most of this growth opportunity?  Here are a few simple tips to get you started:

1)    Don’t throw the baby out . . . Just because plopping your print format onto the web isn’t effective, doesn’t mean you have to start over. You have content, talent and processes that work. Take the best of those and build on them for the web—so your readers experience some familiarity with your content and design, but with appropriate presentation on their specific device.

2)    Understand your audience.  Practice context awareness and gain insight into what your users want and how they want it.

3)    Help the audience find you. All the tools and social networks out there are built on the idea that you will be found—not on the idea that you have to go looking for readers. Once you understand your audience, you can build an experience that they are looking for and lead them to you, using what the web so graciously supplies.

4)    Foster collaboration. Utilize the same designers, writers and editors, no matter the device, but bring them together with IT and other web experts to ensure that content, style and functionality work seamlessly.

5)    Build your Brandividuals. Chances are, you already have a few individuals who your audience associates with your brand. This is one case where you can really build on your existing resources by supporting your brandividuals in thier use of social media, to expand their following and yours. Make sure they are savvy and make it easy for the audience to build on and expand their individual contact with these personalities.